By John Johnson
BassFan Senior Editor
Mike Eutsler might not get to fish much himself these days, but he enjoys helping younger anglers derive as much enjoyment as possible from the sport. A big part of his role as field activation manager for Lew's is to attend the most prominent college and high school tournaments and display the company's offerings.
He'll be 69 in a few months, but he doesn't see himself giving up the gig anytime soon.
"As long as I'm having fun, I don't anticipate (retiring)," he said. "Something might change, you never know, but I enjoy working with people and being around the kids. The whole high school deal is really unbelievable – the amount of participation there is by the parents and grandparents. And to see those kids' faces, even if they come to the stage and they don't have a great big bag, there's a lot of excitement.
"They've found something they can really sink their teeth into and it's changed a lot of lives already. I hear that from the counselors and other people who are around them on a daily basis."
Deep and Varied Background
Eutsler arrived at Lew's in 2012 following a long stint with the Missouri Department of Conservation (eventually reaching the rank of district supervisor) and a much shorter one working in promotions at the massive Bass Pro Shops outlet in Springfield, Mo. He's also the former editor of Heartland Trails, the monthly magazine produced by one of the Midwest's biggest tournament circuits.
He used to do a lot of competitive casting himself – he was a regular participant in BFLs and the now-defunct B.A.S.S. Weekend Series in addition to Heartland derbies in his home state and also Arkansas and Oklahoma. He hopes to get back into that in 2019 on a limited scale.
He considers both Lake of the Ozarks and Table Rock Lake as his home waters, noting that he loves both and couldn't pick one over the other.
"I'm on the road a bunch – I think it was an even 30 weekends last year and it'll be a little less by the time this year's over, probably 27," he said. "Obviously, I don't do as much fishing as I used to; I do some pleasure fishing, but not a great deal. I hope to work in at least a few tournaments next year.
"There was a local trail I wanted to fish this year, but I was going to miss one or two of the events. But it's worthwhile taking care of the kids out there and going that route."
A Younger Crowd
Eutsler didn't know Lew's chairman Lynn Reeves, the man who resurrected the brand from virtual mothballs a decade ago, before going to work for the company. They met through a mutual acquaintance.
"He needed somebody to line out the pro staff and get everything set up, (such as) how guys were going to apply," he said. "I helped start the beginning process of that."
He ran the pro staff at all levels until last year, when Peak Rock Capital (the private equity firm that now owns the company) purchased Strike King. Now, Strike King's David May and Darren Jacobson handle the national-level staff, with Eutsler overseeing the mid-level, collegiate and high school programs.
He also attends grand openings, customer appreciation days and other special events at big-box retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods, Academy Sports + Outdoors, etc. His travels, on which he tow's one of the company's three display trailers (there are two smaller ones and a big one) might take him anywhere in eastern portion of the U.S., as far south as Florida and as far north as New York. He also takes charge of the maintenance for the trailers and tow vehicles.
Whichever destination he lands at, he generally has a good time.
"Probably what I enjoy most is the interaction with the anglers all over the country," he said. "(The pro-staffers) really help me out and they do a great job. It's just a lot of fun to be around them."
> Eutsler and wife Donna will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next June. They have two sons, six grandchildren and one great-grandson.