Video / photography by KBJR 6 photographer Alex Laitala
DULUTH, Minn. – Zach Knuckey is anything but an average 31-year-old fisherman.
At 24, her life changed forever.
“I was going out to go ice fishing with three of my buddies, and my shoelace came undone. So I bent down to tie myself up by the shoelace, and when I stood up, my back hurt. , it shot me in the legs, and five seconds later I was on the ice, paralyzed from waist to toe, “he said.
It was December 15, 2012. After weeks of confusion, Knuckey was finally diagnosed with a stroke and pulmonary embolism, apparently out of nowhere. A doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told him he would regain minimal function and likely never walk again.
Devastating news, but not a diagnosis that would define it.
Since his injury, Knuckey has regained strength in his legs and has walked a mile on his own. He was forced to quit his old paint and plasterboard job, but was able to find his own niche in fishing.
Knuckey learned how to make custom fishing rods from his great uncle. He used Sainte-Croix blanks to create unique rods for any type of fisherman and started selling them.
He made custom UMD Bulldog fishing rods for the coaching staff of the men’s hockey team, as well as other local sports teams.
“Proctor, Hermantown, Duluth East, Cloquet, we’ve all built a few.”
Built from his workshop, Zach says he currently ships over 50 canes a year.
“I used to paint and drywall before this all happened. And so if I had never had this stroke, I wouldn’t make fishing rods, I wouldn’t take people on the lake, I would always paint and drywall. So now I’m dreaming of living. I do everything I ever wanted to do. “
He loves to fish and also runs a guide service. Knuckey can drive, cast / unload a boat, and best of all, find the fish. He calls his new life a blessing in disguise.
“This injury made my dreams come true. I don’t walk anymore, but I drive the van, I stand by the boat. You should see some of the looks I have on the lake, I like that.”
For more information on Zach’s Waters Edge Guide Service, click here.