Mel Huettemann BFA Past President & Youth Fishing Proponent


6/22/2012 2:30:00 PM

Fishing news, bad and good, pops up in Illinois Valley

Craig Sterrett



Better Fishing Association members from the days when the organization was lobbying for the state to take over and restore the Hennepin Canal had cause for a somber moment Wednesday, June 20.

A former BFA of Northern Illinois president, Mel Huettemann of La Salle, died early Wednesday morning. He was 89.

He was a 54-year BFA member.

BFA past president and chairman of the executive board Tom Wall said Huettemann worked alongside BFA members as they agitated to save the Hennepin Canal, meeting anywhere from the Knotty Pine tavern in La Salle on the east to various American Legion halls in villages along the canal as far west as Atkinson and Annawan. Although he had not been extremely active in the group in recent years, Huettemann was one of the top proponents, volunteers and supporters of the BFA youth fishing exposition at Lock 14 on the Illinois and Michigan Canal and of other youth fishing programs.

In addition, he helped recruit a lot of members while promoting the BFA and fishing in general at outdoor shows in the old Westclox building, Wall recalled.

“He was one of the outstanding members in the early years,” Wall said. “Mel was a super asset to the organization.”

One of Huettemann’s best friends, Don Spayer recalled how avid of a fisherman Huettemann was and how much they wanted to share what they knew with children.

“He was a bluegill fisherman; loved them,” Spayer said, noting Huettemann liked fishing the Hennepin Canal near Tiskilwa and at the Isaac Walton League, Geneseo chapter.

The two were among the organizers who set up the Lock 14 fishing tournament, Spayer said.

“He volunteered for a lot of things and together we created canal cleanups and went down and volunteered and cleaned up several sections of the (Hennepin) canal,” Spayer said.

The two worked together at Caterpillar after working at Westclox.

“When Mel was at Westclox he was in charge of designing the tooling for all the screw machines and that amounted to about 175 machines, different kinds,” Spayer said, adding that Huettemann and he organized all-day picnics for the management club and fish fries for Westclox workers.