Frank Willetts had it good in the automotive industry, at least good by standards that most seem to value. The Commerce Township native had the big house, the family and stature of running a plant in Mexico. His life was a whirlwind, but good living doesn’t come without a cost. Then his seven-year-old daughter said something that ripped him apart…
Willetts is a fly fishing guide today and owner of the Pere Marquette River Lodge, a popular Orvis-endorsed fly fishing outfitter that services the PM river, home to world-class brown trout and steelhead fishing. He recounts the story of finding his bliss, and angst he had to deal with until that time, during a 30-minute episode of “Guided,” a World Fishing Network reality television show that begins its second season Saturday. Show host and producer, Mark Melnyk, explores the life questions with Willetts as well as the spectacular fishing found on the Pere Marquette River.
“I knew I liked Frank Willetts the moment I layed eyes on him… standing well over 6 feet tall, rake thin and a pony-tail which rivals that of Willy Nelson, he extended his hand saying hello on that beautiful September day,” writes Melnyk in a blog post on Mark Melnyk Outoors . “The lodge was rocking! People were everywhere putting on waders, lacing up boots, buying flies and generally talking fishing. The shop was alive. Frank instructed us to ‘Get some rest boys, tomorrow is a big day’ – we all obliged.”
Be sure to check out Melnyk’s blog for more photos and videos. The Pere Marquette River Lodge episode airs several times. You will find it on the World Fishing Network which is carried by several television providers in Michigan.
Pere Marquette River Lodge air-times (eastern-time) on “Guided.”
- Saturday, April 19 @ 12:00 p.m.
- Saturday, April 19 @ 9:00 p.m.
- Sunday, April 20 @ 2:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, April 22 @ 11:00 a.m.
- Tuesday, April 22 @ 8:00 p.m.
- Wednesday, April 23 @ 12:00 a.m.
Too bad I don’t get WFN.
I had to watch this specific beautiful program ……twice! Frank’s life lesson story hit home hard with me and my relationship with my daughter as well. The years of long 10-31 day field trips traveling with the USFW sea lamprey control program all over the Great Lakes was very hard on my wife and daughter. That is true for my sea lamprey crew cohorts and their families as well.
The US and Canadian sea lamprey crews are not making any big money with corporations. Ironically, the dedicated F&W crews are actually sacrificing their family lives so Frank Willetts and all the Great Lakes sport fishers can enjoy the great salmon and steelhead fishing in the rivers we enjoy today. We made that life choice as veterans of the Great Lakes battle with sea lamprey. For that there will always be divorces for some of the SL crew staff. My marriage survived, but I did miss the hundreds of quality time events while not home. I watched my daughter grow up too fast between trips.
The Michigan Outdoor Writers Association had a wonderful annual meeting weekend a few years ago at the Pere Marquette River Lodge. I was able to enjoy the fine meal prepared personally by Frank and social time at the fireplace. For the fly fishers looking for the quality experience fishing Pere Marquette River, lodging, and great food, then Frank Willetts and the Pere Marquette River Lodge needs to be on your future trip list.
Thank you Frank, and to Howard for pointing this story out to the readers.
Tom. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience visiting with him. I agree. I thought the episode was very well done and gave great insight into who Frank is, not only as a fishing guide, but as a whole person. Kudos to to Mark Melnyk for capturing it so well – and to Frank for being willing to put it out there.
Looking forward to seeing the show. Question about that photo of Mark hoisting the steelhead: is that a Mystic Fly Rods? He’s very fashionable wearing that Mystic hat.
Hey Rich. As you would well know, of course. I think you’ll enjoy the episode.