When work gets too stressful, sometimes the best summer relaxation technique is to spend a day fishing, and the Best Dam Fishing Float provides one of the most unique experiences in the La Crosse Area.
Back in 2010, brothers Tom and John Rieple bought the historic fishing float near Dresbach Lock and Dam #7, and quickly went to work on its renovation.
"We tore out everything they had on the dock, so we built it all brand new state of the art technology dock," Captain Tom Rieple, the float’s co-owner and operator said. "A lot of the old docks were built on telephone poles, the old blue barrels, pretty rickety floats, not super safe, so we wanted to redo everything to show people how good this could be and how nice the fishing float really is here."
For those that want to spend they day on the river, but don’t have a boat or the proper fishing equipment, the Best Dam Fishing Float accommodates their desire to fish, with gear handmade by Tom himself.
"We provide rental gear here on the fishing float, we furnish all the nets, tables, chairs, we have beautiful clean bathrooms here, beautiful bait shop. We even have a 55-inch TV here because we’re monster Packers fans," added Captain Tom.
What is perhaps even more impressive than the float, is the abundance of fish waiting for people to catch.
"I think there’s about every species in the river, we catch," First Mate Pao Thao "PT" Le said. "I believe what I’ve seen so far is 17 species in one day."
Captain Tom says that people come from all over the world to fish at the float, in addition to the regulars. This combination of new and old faces allows for shared stories, was they bond over a favorite pastime.
"I’ve been fishing on the river here since 1976, but I’ve been fishing here since they built this float six years ago," Fisherman and float regular Elwyn Beane said. "You can always catch fish out here, you can always catch fish on this float."
Thousands of people fish at the float each month and take away prizes, but they but they also leave with a summer family.
"Just having fun with them, all in a good manner, and I think that brings a lots of them back, just because of our friendliness and the fun we have on our fishing float," said Captain Tom.
For another episode of Hometown Tourist check back next Wednesday for a new episode, and a chance to make the La Crosse area your own.