An Outdoorsman‛s Journal
by Mark Walters
Addicted to the Bay Hello friends: What can I tell you about Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay? I lived in Ashland County for most of the 1990s, and I recall the ice winter trek back in 1995 from Superior to Saxon Harbor. Perhaps because I have traveled throughout Wisconsin as an outdoor writer since 1989, I am embarrassed to say that I do not know how to fish it, cannot identify many of the fish in it, and geographically cannot remember which island is which.
As you are about to find out in another whirlwind story, much of that would change this past week.
Tuesday, Jan. 28 High 27, low 18 Lodging, bait and much of my information would come from River Rock Inn and Bait Shop in Ashland. This is a good place to stay, purchase or get information. I also give kudos to Angler’s All.
My fishing partner would be 54-year-old Rick Miotke, who is the president of the Baraboo River of KAMO and has worked at Sysco Foods for 33 years and is very active in his church. Rick and I go back a long ways.
After purchasing bait, tackle and moving into our room (Rick was at my house at 3:45 this morning) we headed toward Washburn with my Polaris Classic 550 in tow. This is my first snowmobile with electric start that is fan-cooled and has reverse. The Classic is a 2005 with 1,200 miles on it and since it is not a two-up, we may have overloaded it over the next three days on the ice.
Our informants said head to Houghton Point, which is just under four miles from where we took the sled off the trailer in Washburn.
We pulled two fully loaded sleds over some rough ice and had a little bit of bad luck when we reached our destination. We unloaded everything, and I could not find my rod and reel bag, which contained my five jig poles. I wasted no time and went looking for them. No luck, they had fallen off, and in a very short period of time someone else found them.
I put out two tip-ups and Rick put out two Jawjackers, all baited with lake shiners. We were fishing in water from 19- to 44-feet deep with the hopes of catching a brown trout, splake, walleye, northern pike or anything that would make us feel like we were doing something right. Day became night and we headed the Classic toward the truck and the truck toward Ashland.
Wednesday, Jan. 29 High 23, low 17 We got new intel into where to fish today and would fish from dark to dark. The trip on the sled was greatly reduced and we met three really cool guys from Marshfield who we would fish next to for the next two days.
Joe Sinn, John Zeitler, and Terry Poehnelt are 70, 70, and 62. They do multiple three-day trips each winter up here and they are seasoned tough guys who are a lot of fun, not to mention they have read this column for a long time so we were friends from the get-go.
These guys use a UTV and fish maybe a hundred yards apart from each other. They spread out two tip-ups apiece and jig in their shacks with their other line and they like natural bait.
Meanwhile, back at the Mark and Rick show, it’s noon and we have yet to catch a fish when Rick catches a very small perch, then another. Next he catches an 18-inch walleye. Then I caught a couple of decent perch, dark came, and no trout, but we were learning.
Thursday, Jan. 30 High 28, low 21 Did you ever do something wrong because you did not want to make waves? I did on this trip. Rick just purchased an 8-inch electric auger. We had my 10-inch Jiffy propane auger along and like a damn fool I left it in the truck.
At noon today, I had a flag and, let me tell you, I had me a big brown on the other end. Five times I got it to the hole. Five times I could not turn it up the hole. Long story short, the brown got away. Without hesitation I took the sled to the truck and got the 10-inch auger.
Rick got the second and only other chance for a brown and after a solid 20-minute fight on a Jawjacker/jig pole and with the assistance of Joe Sinn as our gaff man, he caught a 31.25-inch trophy.
We had no idea that this beauty from the cold waters of Lake Superior was such a dandy, but when our buddies told Rick that he had to mount it and that none of them had ever hit the 30-inch mark, the decision was made.
These guys wanted Rick to mount this fish so bad that they even met us at the truck well after dark and offered one of their trout to Rick to eat if he would mount his.
I am hooked on Chequamegon Bay. I will be back this winter. Sunset