An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
Puckaway/On Thin Ice!
Hello friends: To the best of my knowledge I have never ice fished in November. There are two reasons, with the main one being that generally it has not been cold enough for long enough to ice fish. The other one — which is pretty significant — is that I am always hunting in November.
This week I was supposed to be duck hunting on the Mississippi River, but water became ice and that trip was changed to ice fishing on Green Lake County’s Lake Puckaway. Nov. 14th ice fishing in south central Wisconsin, that’s unique.
Thursday, Nov. 14 High 39, low 22 It was killing me to not be duck hunting, but a guy has to move on. So I stop in Montello at the Holiday Sport Shop for bait, I love this place, and they do not have shiners until the next day. My quarry is walleye and gators, but I am told I will not find shiners until the bait truck delivers. Again, I must think outside of the box. I go with large suckers and fatheads and I will put two fatheads on each treble hook.
I drive to Puckaway, I love it here, close to a year of my life has been spent over a dozen summers at Stan’s Puckaway Resort in Marquette.
I get on the ice and talk to a fisherman; he has been fishing for two days and not caught or seen a fish caught. Plus there is only two to three inches of ice. My vision of camping on the ice vanishes as I do not want to die under the ice in a sleeping bag on top of a cot.
I park my truck so I can view the lake and life is good. At dark I have had no action. At 9:30 a light starts blinking on one of my tip-ups. There is two inches of ice underneath me, I have a fish on, I catch the fish, it is a 19-inch walleye, life is good. Just like that the same light starts blinking, I catch and release a 14-inch walleye.
Big, slow period until 5:24 a.m. I miss a good fish at the hole. At 6:20 a.m., my stepson Travis Dushek, who just bought a place in the area, stops to see how I am doing. A light starts blinking, I catch a 21-inch walleye.
It becomes light out and I have nothing happen as far as flags flying. I decide to pack up and head to Millers Resort and try fishing in that area. My plan is to head home at dark as I have another trip the following morning.
My grandparents and their siblings and friends hung out at this place back about 70 years ago. They liked to fish and drink beer here. I can see why.
I set up on the ice with high hopes. Travis texts me that he is going to join me at dark, so much for going home at dark. I leave the ice at 10:30, and get home at midnight with one more 19-inch walleye for my efforts.
As soon as I finish writing this, I am having a fish fry. I am currently as busy as I could be without having my head explode, but after 31 autumns of “my busy season,” I am well-conditioned to the fact that come mid-December my life will slow down.
I love Puckaway, I love my way of life! Sunset
Many of Wisconsin’s lakes could be froze over for at least 5 months this winter.
Using tip-ups to fish for walleye can be a lot of fun.
Walleye fishing in the winter is generally the most productive after dark.