Climb aboard for tours and fishing with 10 Dam Fish!

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Captain Dennis Hartig has logged over 600 fishing hours in three years on his twenty-foot Tidewater Center Console and will use that knowledge to lead his passengers to fishing success. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

For many, life along the Mississippi is idyllic. Fishing, bird watching, and leisurely boat rides are a favorite pastime for vacationers and locals alike – but for those without their own boats, the river can seem inaccessible. Captain Dennis Hartig and his wife, Susan, of Guttenberg, have decided to channel their river experiences into a business that makes those very experiences available to all.

After months of preparation, the Hartigs have embarked on their newest voyage: 10 Dam Fish! The business provides up to six passengers with the opportunity to sightsee, eagle watch, travel to area riverside restaurants, shuttle to and from a sandbar, or just cruise the river. Hartig will take up to three passengers on all-inclusive recreational fishing trips, even providing fishing lessons if requested. Participants need only bring their fishing licenses – the rest is on board. Children under 16 do not need licenses. “I love fishing with kids,” Hartig told The Press. “They are so excited and ready to learn.”

Captain Hartig spent summers on Esmann and Abel islands as a child. “As a family, we spent most of every summer here fishing and playing on the river. It was an amazing way to grow up,” he said. Hartig made his home in Sarasota, Fla., but has returned to the river lifestyle. “I had to come back. How could you not come back to Guttenberg?” said the captain, who still winters in Florida but considers himself a Clayton County resident. 

His river wisdom translates well into the navigation of this new venture, which supports his fishing habit. In April, Hartig earned his captain’s license after 11 nine-hour days of training, an extensive exam, passing a physical, drug test, and Red Cross lifesaver course, and receiving transportation worker identification credentials from the Department of Homeland Security. Two weeks ago, he also received a permit from the Upper Mississippi Wildlife Refuge as an eco-tourism provider, allowing him to operate within the refuge. 

“This is the kind of service business that will take a few years before everyone knows that it is available, but I am very confident that it is something that Guttenberg needs and will support,” said the captain. “Initially, I would think that folks staying in one of our local lodging facilities and campgrounds, or visiting friends locally, would be my primary market. There are a lot of local residents that do not own boats and would like to go on the river, or maybe they do own a boat, but just want to learn how to fish the area.”

Pricing for excursions with 10 Dam Fish! varies depending on the services requested. Fishing trips can be scheduled in four or eight hour increments at $225 or $375, respectively, and non-fishing adventures will cost $75 per hour with a three hour minimum. 

Fees help cover maintenance on the blue and white 20-foot Tidewater used for the voyages. The boat’s center console allows passengers to walk all around the outside and enjoy a wide bow, while the captain sits in the center of the vessel. 10 Dam Fish! will pick up passengers at Bussey Lake, the city dock, or from the docks of passengers who live on the island. 

“I hope that people will be creative and suggest exciting trips that they would look forward to,” said Hartig. In the midst of the warmest months of summer, there is no better time to enjoy the river with 10 Dam Fish!

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