Hack's 'tackles the monster'

Phil McGrath purchases Hack's Tackle and looks to keep quality of service alive at 'monster' guide service with help of former owners


Joshua Wood

Former owner of Hack's Tackle and current collaborator Mike "Hack" Patterson, left, poses with new owner Phil McGrath.

After 25 years of ownership, Michael "Hack" Patterson is taking a step back from the business that bears his name. For a quarter of a century, Hack's Tackle and Outfitters (Hack's Tackle) has been the place to go for residents and visitors alike to get just about anything they need for fishing. This past summer, Hack celebrated 25 years in business, but the experienced guide will admit that it's become a little more than he can handle.

"I've created a vicious monster and it's just a hell of a handful," said Hack.

Enter Phil McGrath.

"We talked about it casually for a while and then I approached Mike being like 'Hey, can we go ahead with this? Is this a serious thing?' and then we worked on it for a better part of a year and then sealed the deal this past March," said McGrath.

McGrath is no stranger to the Valley, having spent 16 years in the Valley guiding and, at times, subcontracting with Hack. While the two had conversations about the possibility of McGrath buying the business from Hack, the veteran fishing guide wasn't sure of the other guide's seriousness in the offer at first.

"I blew him off the first time, but when he came back the second time I said 'Okay, man,'" Hack said. "It's not just something I would just turn over to just anybody, either. This has needed to be the right fit and I really feel like Phil's the right fit for this operation."

While the little red building on the river may be changing hands, longtime customers shouldn't expect major changes right away.

"There's not a lot going to change here. Some, some to a certain degree, but it's time for a little bit of change, too. I've become stagnant. Not that my heart's not in it, it's just harder to keep up with everything," said Hack.

McGrath, however, appears undaunted by the challenge of getting his hands around Hack's Tackle and all it entails.

"That's most of what I'm trying to do right now is taming that monster. It's a big guide service business that he's run well for a long time. My plan is to just keep that level of quality there," McGrath said.

McGrath won't be alone in "taming the monster", though. Hack, and his wife Connie, won't be stepping out of the picture right away.

"When Phil's busy in here in June, I'm going to need to be around. Connie, too. But, then, we're going to go into our July and August and September seasons where he'll have plenty of help to cover it," Hack said. "His family's coming in for part of the summer, too."

Many of the guides that have worked for Hack over the years are expected to stay on with McGrath, helping with the transition and keeping the level of quality that people have come to expect from Hack's Tackle.

"Some of my guides have been here for 15, 16 years and that's almost unheard of in this business," said Hack.

Once the busy months have passed and McGrath has a better idea of how the business runs, both Hack and Connie will be stepping back. Don't, however, expect them to leave the Valley for exotic locations.

"There ain't no better place to live than right here in this Platte Valley. I tell you what, I wouldn't trade our fisheries we have here for any place in the country," Hack said. "No way."

Joshua Wood

The normally serene riverside location of 'monster' Hack's Tackle.


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