July 01, 2018During the summer Brooks and Sasha Wheeler are regulars on the pier. The father/daughter team are routinely seen pulling an old bike cart, once used to carry Sasha, now loaded with fishing poles, tackle boxes, rope, bait and nets along the pier and streets of Grand Haven.
Most people in town know them. They are friendly and cheerful, always. Brooks grew up in Grand Haven and has fished all his life, much of right off the pier.
He has been taking his daughter with him since she was a toddler. You could safely say Brooks is an avid fisherman, truthfully though, he is a fishing fanatic!
"This time of year Sasha and I try to going fishing every day out on the pier," Brooks tells me.
Sasha Wheeler with one of her 18 Master Angler fish. This one she caught when she was 7 years old, it tipped the scales at 30 pounds and measured 38 inches. Sasha loves channel cats, but not enough to really kiss one.
"It's a good time for channel cats, flatheads and drum," he went on to say, his voice filled with enthusiasm. And these waters have produced big river cats for years, many caught by the Wheeler dual.
Brooks is 56 years old and Sasha is now 12. Combined they fill the DNR's Master Angler lists with more than 60 combined. Sasha has 18 herself, and most likely has more than anyone else in Michigan for her age.
At age seven, Sasha landed a 30 pound, 38-inch flathead catfish from the Grand River.
"It was a battle and her arms tired fast, but she did it," her father recalls.
Brooks sent me a video of the action and he was right there at her side, shouting instructions as she held on for dear life!
"Don't reel anymore Sasha! Just hold on," Brooks said as he scurried for the net, holding the video camera at the same time.
"Oh my Sasha, it's a big one!" Brooks was heard shouting. The video images were shaky but the excitement was crystal clear.
Sasha clearly likes to fish, you can see that in the video her father sent me. She likes bluegill fishing too, oh and walleye, and salmon, perch, bass and well, most anything that swims. Sasha likes to fish alright.
"In the beginning I think she just liked getting the (Master Angler) patches the state sent. But she just truly loves fishing," Brooks went on to tell me.
Brooks and Sasha have been featured on all the local tv stations and the popular outdoor show, Michigan Out-of-Doors for their ability to catch big fish. The local newspapers have also had a field day with the many fish stories these two have provided them over the past few years.
"Sasha's first channel cat came on a Scooby-Doo fishing pole," her father explained.
"It was a battle, but she eventually got the fish close enough to net and into the record books!" Brooks' excitement for fishing with his daughter is a joy to hear and refreshing.
Sasha has been listed in the top five Michigan master angler awards the last three years in a row. Simply go to the DNR website and count for yourself the number of times the "Wheeler" name appears.
Of course Brooks is proud of his daughter for a variety of reasons. She's pleasant, friendly and respectful. She's a good student and a good young person. Sasha, without too much coaxing from her father, has cleaned the river banks of trash other fisherman have disgarded. She's a wonderful example not only for youth, but adults as well.
Sasha is obviously skilled with a fishing pole in her hand. But Sasha is also making a name for herself with a microphone in her hand as well.
Her singing career started at the Lakehills Elementary School Talent Show a few years back. Sasha, then 9 years-old, wearing her signature floppy hat adorned with feathers, she sang her original, "CatFish" song. And her biggest fan was front and center with his video camera rolling.
Sasha's singing career has grown since then, she now sings the National Anthem for the Class A minor league baseball team the West Michigan White Caps and the collegiate league baseball team the Muskegon Clippers.
"She's a crowd favorite," her father continues.
"Sasha hates it when I brag about her," Brooks proudly tells me. "I just can't help it!"
I understand... you should be proud, Brooks.