Mike Williams

One hundred years ago in May of 1918 my grandfather, R.S. Williams, purchased the Kettle Falls Hotel on the east end of Rainy Lake. With my father, Charlie Williams, I enjoyed so much my visits there and the excellent fishing so close by. Thanks to my father, who was one of Rainy Lake's first fishing guides, I developed a passion for fishing at a very young age.


My family moved to Kettle Falls for the summer months when I was ten years old. The next year, 1958, I was allowed the use of a boat and motor and began fishing on my own and enjoying success in the many spots my father had shown me. Soon that success was noticed by guests of the hotel and they began paying me to take them fishing. By the time I was fourteen I was guiding full time.


I put myself through college by guiding and then after graduation in 1969 entered the United States Marine Corps for two years. In mid-summer 1971 Mary and I moved to Kettle Falls year around and raised our two daughters there. I continued to guide there until we left in 1982.


The 1980's were eventful for me. I was appointed to a lamplighter’s position by the Coast Guard with the responsibility of maintaining the navigational aids on the Namakan Lake basin. I did this for thirty years. In 1986 Mary and I along with the Dougherty family purchased the Thunderbird Lodge. I guided out of the Thunderbird for the twenty years we spent there. One highlight was guiding Governor Arne Carlson during the 1994 Governor's Fishing Opener. I also guided Representative John Boehner prior to his becoming House Speaker.


Retirement in 2005 was short lived. I continued to guide and also went to work for Voyageurs National Park as an interpretive ranger and boat captain. I did this until 2017.


In 2014 I wrote my first book, “Life at Kettle Falls" and am currently working on its sequel.


I have always remained active when off the water. I served as mayor of the City of Island View, served as a board member and President of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, am a member and past president of the Chamber of Commerce, currently a board member of the Rainy River Community College Foundation and currently the president of the Koochiching County Historical Society.


Mary and I have been married for forty-eight years and have two daughters and five grandchildren.  We spend a lot of time with them.


I am so fortunate in being dealt a great hand. I hope my legacy is that I played those cards right.

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