A former Kansas State fishing team member is turning his passion for finesse fishing into a new business venture called Mule Fishing Supply Company.

And despite their small size, Manhattan native Ethan Dhuyvetter’s ultra-light Ned rig heads pack quite a kick.

“I have been frustrated with the lack of high-quality jigheads for ultra-light fishing,” said Dhuyvetter, who now lives in Grand Rapids, Mich. “What is on the market is decent, but I thought we could use something with a smaller hook and better head design. In addition, the few jigs that I have used never came in the colors I wanted, so I decided I wanted to do something about it.

“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I love solving problems. My first lure company was in high school, which offered hand-poured soft plastics (mostly for finesse anglers).”

Dhuyvetter, who is also a popular YouTuber who goes by the handle Online Outdoorsman, was featured in this section last month after raising more than $1,000 for breast cancer research through an online fundraiser tied to his social media accounts. Similarly, his new business will have a philanthropic outlook, as well, as Dhuyvetter will donate some of his time to helping clean up waterways as part of his duties as the company’s owner.

Currently, Dhuyvetter offers three sizes of mushroom jig heads, which can work for Ned rigs or be fished vertically on small panfish plastics, making it an ideal choice for ice anglers looking for ultra-light presentations that have a slow fall rate.

“The beauty of these jigs is that they will work for numerous applications — open water, ice, even fly fishing,” Dhuyvetter said. “I definitely believe ice fishermen will put these to use in the winter (that is my plan too), but I actually think they are even more deadly in open water. Trout, panfish, crappie, the list goes on …

"Additionally, I think these will be spectacular for kids starting out. You can fish them on their own or under a float and most fish hook themselves because of the small, light-wire hook.”

His jigs come in 1/32nd-ounce, 1/64th-ounce and 1/80th-ounce. The largest jig comes with a No. 6 hook, while the smallest one comes in a No. 10. They are currently offered in four colors — black, white, chartreuse and fire red — and cost $4 for a pack of five.

The small size of his jigs make them ideal for panfish such as bluegill, crappie and trout, though Dhuyvetter says they can easily handle larger fish such as bass, as well. He says he eventually wants to expand his offerings and add soft-plastic trailers to the menu.

“As of right now, I have experimented a lot with various ice-fishing plastics, as well as some modified 3-inch swimbaits I have laying around,” Dhuyvetter said, adding that he likes the TriggerX Luv Bug on the lighter jigs. “The ice plastics and small crappie baits work really well on the 1/80th-ounce and the 1/64th-ounce, while the larger 2- to 3-inch plastics work great on the 1/32nd-ounce. There hasn’t been a plastic that doesn’t work on the jigs yet, but I intend to keep experimenting to find what I like best. Some of my favorites are sadly plastics that have been discontinued.

“Maybe I will have to do something about that.”


Marketing Mule

So the question you’re likely still wondering is, “Why name your fishing lure company Mule Fishing?”

Well, it all goes back to Dhuyvetter’s grandfather Warren Windsor, of Peabody.

“My grandpa has always had mules and he absolutely loves them,” Dhuyvetter said. ”I wanted the company to mean something more to me than just fishing, so I named it Mule in his honor. Every time I interact with this business, I will be reminded of my family and what matters most in life.

“In addition, it really works well because mules are hard-working animals and my goal is to always provide fishing gear that works hard for you. There are a ton of fishing brands out there that sell crazy lures that are simply made to sell fishermen. My goal is to sell fish.”

Dhuyvetter said he has been teaching himself everything he knows at this point about running a business, saying it “honestly makes it more fun and rewarding this way!”

He said some of the credit also goes back to his education at K-State, where he majored in marketing, as well as his work experience.

“I love K-State and I owe them all the credit for the wonderful job I currently have,” Dhuyvetter said. “As far as starting the company, I would give them some credit but also give real world experience a ton of credit. Working a full-time sales job teaches you a lot, and it is not just about selling. I have learned about inventory management, logistics, marketing and more while working in food sales.”

He also offered a key bit of advice for those looking to chase their own pursuits, whether outdoors or in the office.

“If you ever have a dream that you want to make a reality, I would encourage you to go for it,” Dhuyvetter said. “Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you want, it will definitely teach you a lot and create a fun story.”

For more information and to purchase his lures, go to https://www.mulefishing.com, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MuleFishing/ or check out his Instagram page @mulefishing.


Pheasant hunting

The 2019-20 Kansas upland bird seasons kicked off this past weekend, and hunters reported seeing good numbers of birds in western Kansas.

Shawnee Heights student Parker Still and Ethan Haufler were among those who made the trek out west in search of pheasants, with Still reporting their group killed 30 birds on the weekend while hunting near Hays.

This weekend, the greater prairie chicken regular season kicks off, as well.


Sad news

Some sad news for those who were fans of the Dog of the Year contest I ran in years past.

Topekan Wayne Peterson and his wife, Karen, emailed me this week to tell me that Ben the Prison Dog, a former contestant, died on Thursday.

Ben was born in Lansing Correctional Facility. His mother was a Safe Harbor Prison Dog, and he was one of five pups in the litter of eight to survive.

Peterson said when his family adopted Ben, the dog had already learned his name and several commands from the inmates. He also liked to "write in" to nominate other dogs for the contest, as well.

Ben was a natural-born squirrel hunter and actually blew out his knees chasing the little varmints. Luckily, he had surgery and was good to go.

"We always appreciated you including 'His' nominations of other members of our critter cadre in the annual contests you generated and created," Wayne Peterson said in his email. "We toasted his passing with the following sentiment: you CRY when it's over, but you SMILE because it happened."

Sorry to hear about your loss, Wayne. He was a good boy.