I like to consider myself a multi-species fisherman, but often tend to lean toward salmon and bass. However, when I got the invite this past summer from Rich ,the Big Goomba, Gallagher of Big Goomba’s guide service to hit the water in search of some big toothy muskies I didn’t think twice about saying yes.
Rich began musky fishing in the early 1980's in Northern Ontario. From his first Canadian musky trip, he was "hooked" and has been chasing muskies ever since.
He grew up fishing the local lakes & rivers in Illinois and Wisconsin. In his free time Rich is an outdoor writer and has had articles published in The Outdoor Notebook and Muskies. Inc. magazine.
Jumping into his 2004 LUND 2025 Magnum Pro V tournament series boat I could already see that he takes his fishing and his guiding serious. Rich supplies his clients with top-notch gear and has just about every musky bait under the sun. From his custom rods made by Frank's Custom Rods in Bartlett, IL to the ever-tough Abu Garcia reels spooled with Tuf-Line he is prepared for any situation. With the size and layout of his boat it is easy to see that he can handle multiple fisherman with comfort and ease.
Not only does Rich have a passion for fishing and guiding for these toothy critters, but he is passionate about teaching the art of the sport. Rich is not only a guide but he serves as the President of the Fox River Valley chapter of Muskies Inc. Being a part of this organization allows him to teach others about the sport of Musky fishing as well as help with conservation and stocking efforts in the local area lakes. If he isn’t working on a fundraiser for the club, he is busy with local appearances and seminars on the topic of Musky fishing.
Rich understands that the future of the sport of fishing is in constant danger and this fuels his desire to introduce youngsters, the disabled and women to the sport. Recognizing a need to get others interested in the sport he has volunteered his time and boat to lend a hand with special fishing events through the Midwest region. Recently he worked with NISRA (Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association) and participated in one of their events to help get those with special needs out fishing.
When you talk about Rich and what he does there is not one label that you can use for what he represents. Guide, Teacher, mentor, friend would just be a few, not to mention, kind, calm, encouraging, and funny. Where most guys would loose their cool at irresponsible boaters, he shrugs it off and changes his approach.
Too often guides get the reputation of being tight-lipped, stubborn, or secretive. While these come with the territory Rich was like an open book. He took his time to explain why we were fishing the area, what the underwater structure was like, and what he has experienced in the past out of each area. His willingness to share this knowledge is something that is not often seen in the guiding community.
Given his experience and abilities it is no surprise to learn that Rich is on several companies Pro-Staffs and he represents their equipment with the utmost pride and dedication. Phantom lures and Cabelas are just a couple of companies that he is affiliated with. He uses what he believes in and what he knows will work. To him, “it doesn’t make sense to use something you don’t believe in”.
Rich isn’t in the business for the fame or recognition. He does it for the love of the sport and the chance to get time in the outdoors. With the support of his beautiful wife and his love of his four kids, Rich has been able to pursue his passion and share that with others. If he isn’t out fishing with a client you will find him spending time with his family. Family is an important part of his life and if you met him you will see that first hand.
The day of fishing didn’t end up with any fish in the boat, but the knowledge I gained about these elusive fish was way more than I could have ever imagined. We had some good laughs, talked about some of our past adventures and possible future ones. This was the first time I had fished with Rich but it felt as though I had been fishing with him for years. Sharing the boat with such a great individual doesn’t come often but when it does I am sure to enjoy every moment.
If you have the opportunity to get out fishing with Rich, don’t pass up the opportunity. The experience is worth it and the time on the water is something that you will remember for a long time to come.