New charter service offers river tours

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Captain Josef Vich is a self-proclaimed river rat, having fished and boated near pool 10 for five decades. After completing the long-time goal of acquiring his Coast Guard captain's license, Vich will operate Mississippi River Charters out of Guttenberg. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

With the arrival of warmer weather comes a new Guttenberg business that will make the Mississippi River more accessible than ever to those without their own boats. 

Led by Captain Josef Vich, Mississippi River Charters offers private fishing, sightseeing and cruising experiences on the upper Mississippi River. Groups of up to six people can board the 17-foot Montauk Boston Whaler for four or eight hour trips to meet the business, entertainment and recreational interests of customers in the Guttenberg area. 

“One of the top questions asked of Welcome Center staff regards the availability of boat tours in Guttenberg,” said Development and Tourism Director Emily Moser. “It is a fantastic draw to Guttenberg that Mississippi River Charters is now providing this much needed service.”

Captain Joe and his wife Troyce spend their summers in Guttenberg, having boated here for over a decade. “I have boated and fished the Mississippi since I was a kid, some 50 years ago. All of those years have been spent in the pool north of Lock and Dam 10,” said Vich, who has been looking forward to earning a coast guard captain’s license. “I recently retired as a bank president in Waterloo and finally had the time to study and became a USCG licensed Master Captain. And, now I have the time to offer this service.”

Mississippi River Charters will be run out of Guttenberg but may make trips to McGregor, Marquette, or Prairie du Chien, Wis., by special request. Vich is the relief captain for Maiden Voyage Tours of McGregor, and works with owner Robert Vavra to accommodate groups larger than the Boston Whaler can carry. 

The boat is Vich's third Boston Whaler. "We find them to be a very high quality boat, perfect for charters as it is very stable and has deep sides," he explained. "As a center console style, it is also very convenient when doing fishing charters."

Tackle and bait are provided on fishing trips, and tranquil Mississippi River backwater tours offer sightings of river wildlife, waterfowl, and bald eagles. First Mate Troyce assists Captain Joe on some charters, and together the couple has prepared several "gourmet" meals both on and off the river. “We would be happy to cater any special food requests on the boat you might have,” said the crew.   

Troyce and Joe have two grown children; a son, Trent, who lives in San Francisco, Calif., and a daughter, Lynnette who lives with her husband and three sons in rural Manchester. "My wife retired several years ago as the volunteer services coordinator at Sartori Memorial Hospital in Cedar Falls," Vich told The Press. "She is now very active promoting reading to pre-school and early grade school children.  She is also very active in our church." 

Through Mississippi River Charters, Captain Joe also instructs boat driving and gives safety lessons. “I am a river rat at heart and would enjoy introducing the river and community to visitors and children,” he told The Press. “It's really an amazing resource.”

For more information, visit www.missrivercharters.com or call Captain Joe at (319) 240-5047.

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