‘Outdoors’ columnist Fred Krause informed, entertained readers for a quarter century

‘It’s a huge loss. I don’t know anybody who could take his place’

An avid and active outdoorsman from his young childhood into his late 70s, the only thing about exploring nature Fred Krause loved more than actually being in the outdoors was sharing his vast experiences and knowledge.

Krause, 79, died Wednesday at the La Salle County Nursing Home. For almost 25 years, the strongly opinionated but always friendly Krause was the writer of The Times’ popular “Outdoors” weekly column covering topics such as fishing, hunting, trapping and exploring man’s relationship with the great outdoors.

“There isn’t anything about the outdoors that he didn’t like,” said his wife, Mary Ann (Donnelly) Krause. “He did not like to travel very far in the last 25 years, but just show him a body of water, and he’d find you some fish.”

A trapper, hunter and fisherman of great renown in his native Marseilles and around the area, Krause loved his own outdoor adventures as well as guiding those eager to soak up his knowledge on fishing trips. He also shared his love and knowledge of the outdoors with thousands of readers weekly in “Outdoors,” which began appearing in The Ottawa Daily Times in October 1997.

“Fred was the go-to guy with any questions about our rivers and lakes, fishing, trapping, hunting and the outdoors,” said Lonny Cain, retired managing editor of The Daily Times/The Times. “His column served an important audience in our area, where hunting and fishing and outdoor recreation are significant.

“Often he’d come into my office to ask about how to improve the column. He was hungry for feedback and clearly was proud of the voice he added to the newspaper. We were lucky to have him as part of the news team.

“He most enjoyed sharing his early memories and experiences growing up, when he was learning about and enjoying the world of nature.”

The subjects of Krause’s columns – which began running in the La Salle NewsTribune as well in 2019 – always broadly centered on the outdoorsman’s life, but week-to-week ranged from fishing tips to mushroom hunting; new product reviews to old hunting stories; gentle explaining of outdoors concepts to stern rebuttals toward critics of his beloved hobbies.

Whatever the topic, he always managed to make it an entertaining, informative read.

“He was proud of himself, because he wasn’t trained to write,” Mary Ann Krause said. “He was a welder [who retired from Caterpillar after a 35-year career], and he just couldn’t get over that he could really write. ...

“He loved every minute of it.”

Many of Krause’s columns in recent years lamented his lost fishing/hunting companions – especially his father, Theodore Krause, who taught him to hunt and fish from almost the time Fred could walk – while still joyously sharing the fond memories built with them in the great outdoors.

A “fishing buddy” who still regularly spent time with Krause was Phil Trager, also of Marseilles. The two built a friendship that included regular fishing trips for more than three decades, usually in Krause’s favorite stretch of fishing waters, the Illinois River between the Marseilles dam and Ottawa’s Allen Park.

“He had been all over, but he always said, ‘You know what? I enjoy the river here as much as anywhere I’ve ever been,’ and he very rarely got skunked on it,” Trager said.

“Fred was a complete outdoorsman, even to the point of gardening and flowers, trapping and hunting, finding mushrooms, everything. We all knew him from his articles, how complete of an outdoorsman he was.

“He was extremely blessed by God ... and I think his knowledge was part of those blessings. He had knowledge in so many ways, and he always had some to share, and he shared it in a kind way.

“It’s a huge loss. I don’t know anybody who could take his place.”

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. is a graduate of Streator High School, Illinois Valley Community College and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale who is some 23 years into an award-winning sports journalism career.