An Interview With Bill Janney Ė Musky Angler ExtraordinaireBy Craig Sandell © 2013
On November 15, 2013, I had the opportunity to interview renowned Musky angler Bill Janney. The interview was arranged by my good friend Rich Reinert who considers Bill a Musky mentor, as do many of the successful and competent guides on the Chippewa Flowage.
Bill was kind enough to invite me into his home that is situated on the shores of the Chippewa Flowage. Over a cup of coffee, Bill touched on a lifetime of guiding experiences, giving credit to such Chippewa Flowage greats as Bruce Tasker for Billís 35 years of guiding success.
It was a real pleasure to hear Bill recount the camaraderie between guides. Bill noted that the guides would congregate at Hermanís Landing and, over a beer and a bump, would share locations where they or their clients had action. Bill mentioned that back then the guides were as focused on the success of their fellow guides as they were on their own.
Bill also shared with me his insight on the productivity of the Chippewa Flowage from years past to today. One could not help but be impressed by Billís knowledge of the fishery based upon his first hand observations. It was interesting to hear that "winter kills" were not uncommon when the flowage was drawn down 11 feet in years past. Even though there were winter kills, the Chippewa Flowage continued to have productive seasons year after year; a testimony to the overall health of the fishery.
Our conversation turned to Musky lures as conversations among Musky anglers always does. The Chippewa Flowage has a reputation for surface bait action and Bill said that he had thrown his share of them over the years. Bill also said that he found bucktails to be a very productive lure. Bill mentioned that his bucktail, The Janney Tail, had been used by Billís clients as well as Musky anglers who purchased them at resorts like Deer Run Resort, Timberlake Lodge and tackle shops like D&B Bait & Tackle. Bill went on to say that making a quality bucktail was not something you did on a whim. Bill said that it took him many hours of testing and tuning his Janney Tails before he felt comfortable enough to offer them to his clients or market them to resorts and tackle outlets.
He recounted his conversation with Jim Chinook about the marabou feather bucktail that he was making in the 70s and early 80s. He said that after talking with Bruce Tasker, Bruce suggested that Jim was using more marabou than was actually needed. Bill said he decided, after getting Jimís OK, to experiment with the marabou and cut down on the amount of feathers to create more of a cigar shape presentation. Bill said that after a few attempts he managed to come up with a mechanically balanced bucktail with a visual presentation in which he was pleased. Billís approach to the marabou dressing proved to be very productive in the Spring and early Fall when water temperatures were a bit cooler.
I mentioned that there were marabou bucktails like the ones made by Mepps and some of the flowage folks that used a lot of marabou; giving the lure the look of a fluffy ball of fur. I mentioned that I was disappointed by the tangled mess these fluffy creations became once they dried out after being wet.
Bill said he hadnít heard that complaint from anyone using his marabou bucktails.
I asked Bill if he was still guiding, to which he replied that he was "semi-retired". He mentioned that he had some health issues and some family responsibilities that kept him from regularly guiding. Bill said that he is still available for guiding but he has reduced the number of guide days a bit. He said that although many of his guide days are taken by former clients, he still has some days available.
If you are interested in contacting him to book his guiding service, you can reach him at (715) 462-4427, but don't delay...his guide days fill up fast.
I also asked Bill if he would be making any lures for the upcoming season. Bill did not hesitate in telling me that he would be offering his Janney Tails to tackle outlets and resorts in the Hayward area.
We ended the interview with a brief tour of Billís lure work area and a stroll along his frontage property.
I have, over the years, had the good fortune to meet and fish with gentleman guides like Bruce Tasker, Wayne Gutsch and John Dettloff and shared stories over a beer and a bump with the likes Frenchy LaMay, Fred Hirsch and Jim Burns. Bill Janney is no less the gentleman and no less the accomplished Musky angler than any of these.