Area junior anglers and Headwaters Chapter of Muskies Inc. members Michael Schmidt and Trevor Barber have already made names for themselves in the North Woods early on in their fishing careers.

Both fish with their fathers in area summer muskie leagues on Mondays and Tuesdays. The boys finished first and second individually in the nation in their respective divisions last season.

Michael took home the first place finish in the nation in the Junior Fingerling Division, and Trevor took second in the Junior Fry Division. Out on the water, there is a friendly rivalry between the two of them, which makes for great competition.

Michael’s father, Patrick Schmidt, noted how their accomplishments have made both young men eager to improve their techniques and land more muskies in the boat this season.

“It was a great rivalry all summer long, watching those two try and out-fish each other,” said Patrick. “They’ve become friends because of it. I think it’s pretty cool that two local kids did so well with something that they really enjoy.”

Michael ended up winning seven awards last season and received a free replica mount of the 48.5 inch monster muskie he hauled in during the first week of last summer’s Monday night muskie league. He noted that his experiences in Canada, fishing with his dad, are his favorite part of being an angler and added that these trips have helped make him a better fisherman and build confidence.

“The fish hit the bait harder up there and they’re more aggressive,” said Michael. “Every single day you can expect to get a fish up there.”

Patrick added that the confidence boost that Michael gained after his success in Canada translated to fishing in the North Woods. The pair work the Eagle River Chain of Lakes from top to bottom and Michael ended up boating 33 muskies last season.

Trevor’s father, Jeremy Barber, added that when the four anglers took a trip to Canada together last year, it was an awesome experience and being able to watch the boys compete is great to see.

He added that he and Trevor do a lot of traveling to different tournaments throughout the Midwest each year and said that it’s awesome being able to share the boat with his son. The pair have fished the chain a lot over the years, but now try and go for different bodies of water throughout the North Woods to hunt the elusive muskie.

“I loved to fish as a kid, but I was nowhere near as good as Trevor is at this point,” said Jeremy. “He’s just got a knack for it and has the drive to keep improving.”

Trevor, being a little younger than Michael, makes up for the age gap with his fishing experience. Jeremey noted that his son “hammers fish” and nearly every night after school, Trevor can be found out on Loon Lake reeling in huge bass and bluegills.

Last year, early on during Monday night league, Trevor reeled in a monster of his own being a 47.5 inch muskie. He ended up boating 21 for the season and highlighted that his biggest catch so far, that wasn’t netted during league, was a 50.5 inch monster muskie.

“I’m trying to work on using different baits and techniques that other guys aren’t using,” said Trevor. “Boat control is something else I’m working on to help get us in better positions to net more fish this year.”

Trevor added that his experiences in Canada have helped bring him success in the North Woods as well and he really enjoys being up there with his Dad and friends that they share trips with.

Both teams kick off their seasons in the next few weeks and all four fisherman highlighted how they can’t wait to hit the water and net some beauties this year.