Achieving that work-life balance: Milwaukee police officer has found serious success in bass fishing

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- You never know when something is going to strike your fancy, and you never know how that interest may compliment the things you're doing at any given time. A Milwaukee police officer has found the perfect balance between work and play.

"I've had a great career. I've had great assignments, great partners," Milwaukee Police Officer Scott Siller said.

Siller has been with the Milwaukee Police Department since January of 1995.

"I came on the motorcycle unit with about 17 years on the police department, 16-17 years, and it was always something I wanted to do," Siller said.

Riding a Harley for eight hours a day at work was part of the allure for Siller, but the job has so many different aspects that kept him passionate about it. He says a highlight was his role in capturing a serial killer in the city in September of 2009.

"That Walter Ellis case was a pretty neat investigation. I was fortunate to have been picked to be a part of it. When they compare him to being the worst serial killer since Jeffrey Dahmer and to say that I was there for the arrest is pretty neat," Siller said.

Even when he's not at work, Siller is still looking for that big catch.

"Big fish get big for a reason -- because they've avoided capture," Siller said.

When he's not catching criminals, Siller is trying to find hungry fish. Growing up in Wyoming, Siller began fishing for trout. However, it was soon after he got out of the Police Academy that bass became his preferred catch. It started with a bass tournament on Pewaukee Lake.

"All these boats just took off screaming across the lake, and it was such a cool adrenaline rush. Within a month I bought a $20,000 pretty 20-foot boat with a 200 horse power motor on it -- way beyond my capabilities," Siller said.

Siller's capabilities would improve dramatically over the years.

"I studied the game. I went on the internet. I read articles. I read books. I went to seminars," Siller said.

Siller also joined a local bass club, and continued to compete in tournaments.

"You know, they give a trophy for first, second, third place. I never got a trophy. I barely ever caught five fish," Siller said.

Success would eventually come, but that wasn't enough for Siller -- so Siller decided to take his skills to the next level -- going pro, by joining the Bassmaster's Tour.

"That's the other thing about tournament fishing -- it's about the decisions you make. I took the leap of faith, and it was very humbling. I got my butt kicked," Siller said.

Undeterred, Siller kept working. This summer, his work paid off at a Bassmaster's tournament on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, New York.

"When the tournament ended on day one, I weighed in really early and I had a 20 pound bag. I watch the other guys coming into the weigh in and I saw that the majority of the field was around 16 or 17 pounds," Siller said.

After the first day, Siller was leading a Bassmaster's tournament against the best in the world.

"I felt, you know, very proud. But it still was a tournament and I still had that mentality that I have to go out tomorrow and catch fish again," Siller said.

Siller did just that -- and was leading going into the final day of competition.

"There's 180 pros in that tournament, and on the final day they only take the top 12. You know, I realized that it definitely started taking its toll on me mentally. I lost the first fish in the morning. It got in my head a little bit more. About 10-15 minutes later I caught a five-pounder off the same area," Siller said.

Then, the bites slowed down, and Siller moved away from that spot on the lake.

"I knew that that spot was the spot. Two days leading the Bassmaster's Tournament, I should have never left it," Siller said.

Siller would end up with a 12-pound bag -- far less than he had each of the first two days.

"Fortunately enough, those 12 pounds were bigger than four other guys that were in the top 12. So I ended up finishing in eighth place," Siller said.

It's the highest finish ever for a Wisconsin fisherman in Bassmaster's history.

"I'm super proud of the accomplishment. It's just, it's a hard pill to swallow when you're going into the final day with a one pound lead over second place," Siller said.

Siller says 80 percent of tournament fishing is mental, and he began changing his mental strategy moments after that tournament.

"It's that instinct on the water and it's your own mental confidence that puts you over the top," Siller said.

Siller believes he's over the top now, but he'd like one more thing in the future.

"People ask you that famous question -- if you could talk to one person who would it be? Mine would be a bass," Siller said.

Siller will be one of three Wisconsin fishermen competing in the Northern Open on Lake St. Clair in Detroit September 4th through the 6th.