Dustin Mues is a native of Cambridge, Nebraska where he learned to fish. He has old Polariods of him in a diaper holding a catfish with his great-grandpa on the muddy banks of the creek and remembers rushing his prize catch walleye home on a solo trip just to get a picture and have it to dinner. Now, he’s teaching his children, Drake and Daelyn, to fish. It runs deep in their veins to charter the unknown in hopes of a catch. He started kayak fishing about seven years ago with his family when his wife, Jen, purchased two kayaks as a Father’s Day present. Since then, it became a family addiction, a pastime, and a lifestyle. He kayak fishes for many reasons: the peacefulness of the water, the comradery among anglers, the ability to explore places bigger boats can’t get to, and of course, the anticipation of the next catch. He says, “It’s a perfect blend of unplanned chaos that only you can understand. It has no words, it’s just a sense of being in that moment of living your story.”
Dustin enjoys all aspects of tournament fishing – the competition, comradery, and the preparation involved. Being a “don’t quit!” kind of spirit, he fishes right until the end of competition time. He tries to fish most of his local tournament trails, Kayakapalooza, and Midwest Kayak Fishing Series. He also competes in most of the KBF State Challenges. Placing in the top ten in most of his local events, he has qualified for the Tournament of Champions at Lake Fork in 2015, 2016, and 2018 as well as the KBF National Championship in 2016 and 2018. Recently, he placed 6th on the online event and 2nd in the live event for the KayakpaloozalX Tournament Series, which qualified him for the Tournament of Champions again this year. Second place is his highest finish in the KBF State Challenge, but he hopes to take the top spot this September to make it to the 2019 National Championship.
When asked about his favorite memory, he said:
“It was a perfect day as we started out working the submerged boulders lining the shoreline. As we worked our way around the cove, I noticed something along the shore, right at the waterline that resembled teeth in the limestone shelf. I just thought to myself of how cool it was that the water had eroded the limestone like that. I just continued to work my jig along the ledge catching a Smallie on almost every cast. As I drifted closer to the toothy structure I realized that it was in fact actual teeth. My first thought was that the teeth were not that of a deer, they were too big. Then I thought maybe they were from a cow or maybe even a horse and grabbed my hook remover pliers and started to scrape away at the foundation covering the teeth. The ground was extremely hard and the pliers insufficient- especially while sitting in my kayak. That’s about the time Jen, Drake, and Daelyn came around the point and noticed me hunched over the side of the kayak. They asked if I was okay as I looked at them and motioned them to paddle over to see what I had found. I then decided to get out of my kayak and continue my digging from the rocky shore. I used everything I possibly had to keep chipping away. Jen handed me her needlenose pliers thinking they would be more sufficient with a sharper point. I kept chiseling away piece by piece. More and more of my discovery showing itself from the tomb it was in. The teeth turned to a jawbone, the jawbone into a skull. That’s when we looked at each other and realized we didn’t know what I had just unearthed. We took pictures of it to research anything thing we could find online as we left it be to go get something to eat. On our way into town Jen looked page by page at anything from Tricerotops to Camels and everything between. That’s when I heard, “Found it!” as Jen started to announce that I had found the fossil of a 9-11 Million Year Old Rhino (Teleoceras) that once roamed the earth. We later contacted a paleontologist from the University of Nebraska who scheduled a date for extraction with my family to help out.
On July 17th, along with paleontologist Shane Tucker and assistant Jeremy from The University of Nebraska, this amazing mammal was excavated. It was sent in to be studied by scientists. What an epic day! We were able to cast the mammal and each of us were allowed to add Band-Aids to the skull of the animal. The fossil can be seen at the University of Nebraska State Museum at Morrill Hall.”
“No matter how much doubt you have on how far you can go, realize how far you have come, everything you faced, battles you’ve won, and fears that have been overcome to get where you are today. Just be you, the person that everyone wants to know and tell great stories about for many generations to come.”