My goal for this website is to create meaningful connections among outdoors people, like me, whose passion for their pursuit goes beyond catching a bigger fish, or hiking to a higher peak. I want to explore what drives those passions—skiing, climbing, cycling, whatever they may be—and more importantly, to discover how the balance that pursuing an outdoor lifestyle provides helps us be more successful in our lives, and in our work.
From an early age I was outdoors driven, and devoted much of my free time to hiking, camping, fishing and hunting with my father, uncles and friends, and to alpine ski racing. My passion was so strong that I even spent time as a crew member on a commercial fishing rig in Alaska before attending college.
After college, however, things were different. I held a series of jobs that provided neither the satisfaction nor inner peace my soul required, and my life turned. Without that strong connection to the natural world, I became lost and unsure of who I was; I spiraled into a self-destructive existence punctuated by bad choices, alcohol and drug abuse, and failing personal relationships.
Too many years later, and during my second stint in rehab, I finally realized that I was sick of feeling sick; I got clean and sober and once again turned to the outdoors. The time I spent in a boat, on a trail or next to a campfire brought serenity and the feeling that I’d returned to my place in the world.
For more than a decade afterward I was a full-time fishing guide in northern Minnesota, while at the same time competing in professional fishing tournaments. Success on these fronts led to the next adventure—becoming a sportfishing educator and communicator. Through print, radio, television and digital media, on both the regional and national levels, I spent more than 20 years helping other anglers excel at their chosen pastime. In April 2019 I was inducted into the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, and in 2020 into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame.
My life continues to revolve around sportfishing, and not only as a participant. I remain very active as a tournament emcee, and as an advocate for the MN-FISH Foundation & Coalition which works to preserve our valuable natural resources. But at the same time, I’ve discovered a renewed passion for other outdoor activities, and find that I also get a profound sense of peace and contentment while hiking, running, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing with my wife Ineke. My personal love of flatland running, in fact, has evolved into a zeal for participating in number of organized high-elevation runs, including a grueling 50K known as The Rut run in Big Sky, Montana.
It’s through these activities that I’ve found a new center, a new balance, that helps me live the best life I can. And through the ChipLeer.com website, my Wildside Podcast and Inside the Wildside newsletter I hope to connect with likeminded people, whatever their outdoor pursuits might be.
There’s great value in sharing insights and experiences, and how the outdoor lifestyle influences everyday life. I sincerely hope you’ll join us, and share what’s Inside Your Wildside.