A new playground
An Outdoorsman’s Journal
Hello friends, My daughter Selina Walters is a freshmen at UWStevens Point majoring in fisheries and aquatic sciences and a few other areas in environmental sciences. Selina does not come home very often, I will not see her for spring break and there is a strong possibility that she will be taking a job this summer that will keep her from coming home.
Every winter since Selina was three we have gone on a winter camping and ice fishing trip and I did not want that streak to end. So this past February, I did some research in the Stevens Point area and discovered the Wisconsin River Flowage, which borders northern Stevens Point, covers a couple of thousand acres and has endless possibilities for both winter and summer adventures.
Friday, Feb. 28 High 27, Low 13
Lakeside Bar is a very cool bar that is family owned, right on the water and I was able to drive on the ice from the property. Selina met me here and we parked her car at Lakeside. As usual, I think she was just as excited to see her two buddies Fire and Ruby as she was me. Before this trip I had been speaking with a couple of locals on where to set up camp on the ice and how to fish it. Fortunately there was enough ice to drive my pick-up on it.
Before I go any further I want to say that in the 31 winters that I have written this column, I have never witnessed a winter where it is so tough to catch fish. In a week’s time I speak with a lot of fishermen. This would be my fifth ice fishing trip of the winter and none have been easy when it comes to catching fish.
So Selina and I put out five tip-ups for walleyes. Let me tell you, the scenery here is pure adventure with islands, large bodies of water and channels everywhere and, as crazy as it sounds, (even 48 hours later) next to no people on the ice.
Next we set up camp, which is a really big job. In the end, we have a heated cabin on the ice with a kitchen, gas lights, heat, two cots and, new this year, a carpeted floor.
Just before dark I jigged for anything that might be hungry and with her pups by her side Selina did hours of homework.
Long after dark I cooked steaks and life was good.
Saturday, Feb. 29 High 36, Low 21
At first light this morning I was jigging in the shack, I marked a fish, it hit my jig and I caught it.
My trophy was a 6-inch walleye and it would be the only fish that we caught all weekend.
It’s a good thing my stepson/Selina’s brother, Joey Dushek came to camp today because my truck was a little stuck in a deep crusty snow. Joe was ready to catch some walleyes and along with his golden doodle “Pike” enjoy a night on the ice and all of us getting together for a night, which was all that really mattered.
We visited a couple of times with our neighbor on the ice “Chubby,” who uses tip-downs and has a camper for a shack that has a wood stove in it. Chubby is a cool dude that can fish alone, and he gave us hope that we should be able to catch a walleye.
In every conversation that I had with fisherman this weekend I was told about slow fish catching this winter, but that this flowage is an excellent fishery in the open water season.
Because Selina might be spending the summer working in this area I dreamt up an idea of camping on the islands, swimming, fishing and hanging out here.
I could even see getting to know the folks that hang out at Lakeside Bar because they seemed so cool and down to earth.
In my dream world I have a duck hunting plan where Selina could do a couple of simple hunts. I hear that there is a solid muskie population and trolling for walleyes would be very cool.
Most important would just be simple get togethers where we swim, watch the sunset, have campfires and enjoy life.
Thanks for reading!