Evart hunter, fisherman keeps up with lifelong loves

TROPHIES: Fred Knopf of Evart stands near the trophies of successful hunts he has endured during his lifetime. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)
TROPHIES: Fred Knopf of Evart stands near the trophies of successful hunts he has endured during his lifetime. (Herald Review photo/John Raffel)

EVART — Fred Knopf grew up hunting and fishing in Mecosta County and enjoyed every minute of it. Now his hunting and fishing takes him to Osceola County where he resides near Evart and Sears.

And Knopf still enjoys every minute of it. He’s lived in the Sears area for about 28 years. He was born and raised in Big Rapids and grew up on Townline Lake. He grew up in a hunting and fishing family that included seven brothers and one sister. Fred was the second youngest. He currently works at Dean’s Foods where he’s been for 34 years.

Hunting and fishing are both popular pastimes for Knopf.

When it comes to fishing, Knopf will spend time on the ice during the winter. When the ice goes out, it’s time for steelheads. Then he journeys up to Big Bay deNoc in the Upper Peninsula with his brothers for some walleye fishing. “I’ve been going up there for 11 years now,” said Knopf. “I go up with my brothers and some friends. We usually have nine or 10 people go up there.”

Locally, Knopf likes fishing 8-point lake in nearby Clare County and other local lakes. Walleyes and bluegills are among his favorite targets.

“It’s been a pretty productive year so far,” he said. “We’re over at Saginaw Bay a couple of trips a year for walleyes. My oldest boy John has a big salmon boat. He takes a week’s vacation and goes over to Ludington.”

But Knopf prides himself on being a 12-month fisherman and has developed a deep love for ice fishing in area lakes. When he was a youngster, he and his brothers took advantage of their opportunities.

“We more or less went to Haymarsh and Townline Lake,” Knopf recalled. “It’s the same old hot spots.”

Knopf figures he was 5 years old when he first fished in the company of his brothers and has been hooked to the sport ever since.

When it comes to hunting, Knopf has friends that live around Newberry, giving him an opportunity to go up and do some bear hunting. He’s an avid bow, rifle and muzzleloading hunter for deer.

In this area, “it’s pretty slow,”Knopf said. “There’s not the deer there used to be. There’s too many doe permits. The deer numbers are down.”

A 10-point buck with 18-inch spread is the biggest local deer Knopf has ever shot.

“We do a little turkey hunting, a little partridge, a little rabbit and stuff like that,” he said, adding that when it comes to hunting and fishing, “My wife tells me I spend too much time at it.”

Taking a trip out west elk hunting is one venture Knopf said he’d like to make sometime.

Compared to previous years, “I think there’s more people hunting than fishing, I really do,” Knopf said. “It’s still fun. I have a lot of good friends I fish around here a lot of and do a lot of hunting. We always have a lot of fun even if we don’t get anything.”