ESPN radio host drops a line and lands a pike

FULTON – You can find Ron Semetis on the water fairly often. The longtime fixture in Dixon sports, from his time coaching wrestling and tennis to his time as Dukes wrestling’s official scorekeeper, enjoys his time fishing, often in his favorite spot on the Mississippi River near Fulton.

Last Saturday, he was out on the water with another avid angler, his daughter Mindy, as well as someone who hasn’t been out fishing in a long time: his son-in-law, David Kaplan.

Kaplan, the host of Kap and Co. on ESPN 1000 in Chicago and Sports Talk Live on NBC Sports Chicago, has picked up a fishing pole before, but it’s been a while. This was his first fishing trip since he was 7.

He had been out fishing a few times with his dad when he was young, fishing off a dock sometimes, but he wasn’t much of an outdoorsman.

“I’ll play a billion rounds [of golf] a year with you if you want, but I was just never a camping, fishing, hunting guy; it’s just not who I am,” he said. “But my wife loves it. Our kids aren’t at home any more, so when she said it and I’m driving to work, I thought about it and thought ‘I’ve got to do this.’”

The Aug. 1 trip was Mindy’s idea. She likes to fish for bluegill, so they planned to go after those, as well as pike and crappie.

“She calls and wants to know how the fish are biting,” Semetis said. “... I went Wednesday, and my fiancée and I caught about 20 pike. She said, ‘You know, I think I may try to get out this weekend.’”

At first Kaplan wasn’t going to join them, then decided to tag along. He called his wife to tell her he was in, and even told his listeners he was headed to the Sauk Valley to drop a line with Semetis.

“So we went, we hung out with Ron all day, it was awesome,” Kaplan said.

They headed out to one of Semetis’ favorite spots, pool 14 between Clinton and Davenport, a spot that offers up a wide variety of fish.

“We caught some nice crappies,” Semetis said. “We caught some nice bluegills and released all the pike. We caught about eight pike and missed about eight more. Some you get in, and some get away.”

The biggest catch of the day came from the least-experienced fisherman: Kaplan pulled in a 37-inch, 12-pound Northern pike.

He needed a bit of a refresher course before heading out onto the water, but luckily had a pair of veteran anglers to show him the ropes.

“Big pike make a run, and you’d better have your drag set properly, otherwise they’ll just break the line,” Semetis said. “So we went over what to do before we got on the waters. He played it nicely.”

Kaplan didn’t quite get the hang of all of it – taking the fish off the hook was a bit of an issue – but other aspects came easily.

“I was an athlete, so I feel like I can cast, and I was able to do that pretty successfully,” Kaplan said. “Just understanding that there’s different kind of fishing. He had me first casting and I got the Northern, and then he had me fishing with a jig and a minnow, and then we did this one where you’re hanging out with a bobber and a worm.”

“He’d always talked on his radio show that there’s no skill involved in fishing, it’s just luck,” Semetis said, “and maybe I changed his mind a little about that, because there were times that we didn’t catch any fish for 5, 10 minutes, and that’s the learning curve he had to pick up on.”

Kaplan liked casting because it’s active, but overall enjoyed just sitting on the boat, kicking his feet up, grabbing a drink and spending time with people he loves.

He’ll jump at chances to spend time with his father-in-law, coming to the Dixon area a few times a year to grab a bite at Arthur’s Garden Deli or play a round at Timber Creek or Emerald Hill, and hosting Semetis and his fiancée often.

“He and I are close. We talk sports and talk on the phone. He’s my guy,” Kaplan said.

So will Kaplan go out again for another fishing trip?

“Oh, 100%.” he said.