SMC fishing team cleans up St. Joseph River

Published 12:16 pm Thursday, September 21, 2023

DOWAGIAC — Southwestern Michigan College’s bass fishing team hit Lake Michigan’s Silver Beach’s Friday, Sept. 15, cleaning up the mouth of the St. Joseph River as a community service project.

Though the anglers are often on the road, fishing in eight states during their first season, when the Roadrunners are home they want to contribute to their community.

Coach Bill Mathews said 19 of the 22 team members were able to participate. “A couple had class,” he said of the 9 a.m. to noon effort.

“We partnered with Mule Fishing,” founded in October 2019 to provide high-quality fishing gear and information to help anglers of all skill sets catch more fish.

“Their other main mission is to support waterway clean-ups,” said Mathews, who knows owner Ethan Dhuyvetter.

“He reached out to me and said he thought we could do something awesome that would be mutually beneficial,” Mathews said.

Dhuyvetter donated $3,000 to help support SMC’s program.

“All 19 of us spread out and went from one end of the beach (which is a Berrien County park) to the other,” Mathews said, “plus myself, Ethan and his dad. After that, we went over to the Benton Harbor river launch.

“We had an entire pickup truck filled with bags of garbage. We want to do an annual river clean-up. A lot of the team members fish the St. Joseph River for walleye, smallmouth bass and largemouth bass, so they’re helping make future fishing better. It was a beautiful day weatherwise.”

The Grand Rapids company’s philosophy is that fishing is often made over-complicated by companies and anglers, so its niche is bringing simplified pan fishing options to market.

If Mule seems an odd name paired with fishing, Dhuyvetter’s grandfather “has always loved mules and horses. Growing up, I always remember seeing the mules in the pasture when I visited my grandma and grandpa. The more I talk to my Grandpa Warren about his old mules, the more I realize how passionate he is about these animals. The silhouette on the logo is my grandpa, so when I work on the business, I am reminded of family and the values which truly matter.”

Mules are also known for how hard they work.

“This is exactly the way I want every item offered by Mule Fishing to be known. We want to provide gear that will always work hard for you on the water,” said Dhuyvetter, who competed in collegiate fishing for Kansas State University.

For every Mule Fishing order, the company gives back time or a financial donation to cleaning up waterways across the country.

As for the Bass Anglers, “Our first fall event is Kentucky Lake,” Mathews said. “We have 11 people leaving Wednesday for the Big Bass Bash.”

The major navigable reservoir along the Tennessee River in Kentucky and Tennessee was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1944.