An Outdoorsman’s Journal
By: Mark Walters
Good News for Stan’s Puckaway Resort
Hello friends: This week’s column is another happy one and happy is always good! So from 1969 to 1990, my dad, the late Robert Walters, loved camping and sometimes renting a cabin at Stan’s Puckaway Resort at Marquette in Green Lake County. There is only one other place where I have camped more than Stan’s and that is my deer camp.
Stan and Emily Kochurek purchased what would become Stan’s back in 1951 and would run it for more than 50 years and did an excellent job. Time takes us all and first Stan and then Emily passed away and this incredible part of Wisconsin’s history was virtually falling apart from roughly 2005 until 2016.
In 2016, Melvin “Skip” and Julie Breunig purchased this resort and began the multi-year project of bringing it back from the grave.
Mel is a plant electrician and has been for Alliant Energy at the Portage plant for the last 36 years and he has a lot on his plate. Rebuilding his and Julie’s resort, which is now called Sunset Bay Campground and Resort, has been a huge project that is still at least two years from having guests.
The next part of the story is Michelle Chiaro. Michelle is an ICU nurse who loves outdoor experiences, but the last two weeks we had to cancel trips that she was looking forward to going on due to rough weather conditions.
This week’s plan was vanishing as well due to a solid rain prediction when I had a brainstorm. Maybe I should call Skip, who was two years younger than me when we were growing up in Poynette, and see if we could stay at his closed camp as guests. Long story short, the Breunigs gave us permission and we would be their first overnight guests since the purchase.
Tuesday, May 26 High 77, low 54 It would be impossible to explain the hundreds of memories that constantly went through my mind as we pulled into Stan’s/Sunset Bay and would last for the next 48 hours until we broke camp in a solid rainfall. I was of the ages of 8 to 28 in my time here and we always camped in the same spot. Sometimes my brothers Mike and Tom came; many of the times it was just dad and me.
My dad always had our breakfast cooked on the Coleman stove before it got light out and then Tom and Mike were loaded into our john boat and pulled behind dad and me by our 6-horsepower Mercury. We drifted on the east end of the lake before sunrise and casted Mepps spinners and kicked butt on northern pike and perhaps one decent walleye a morning.
When the sun was too high on this shallow lake — which yielded Wisconsin’s state record northern pike, a 38-pounder back in 1952 — we headed for the lily pads and fished bullhead and bluegill.
Today Michelle and me built camp next to the lake and opened a couple of beers and started fishing from shore. Michelle is from Arkansas and today she caught her first bluegill and, let me tell you, these gills were very large and a blast to catch.
In fact, we had so much fun that we forgot to put my boat in the water and the next thing we knew it was after midnight. Just before midnight we went on a walk through the property and it was almost surreal for me as I felt like I was 9 years old again.
Wednesday, May 27 High 81, low 53 The big gills were hungry again this morning and after that we put my 18.6 War Eagle in the water and went exploring and that was just as much fun as the shore fishing. We trolled for whatever was hungry using crawler harnesses and Flicker Shads and we caught northern pike, sheep head, and catfish.
We took an afternoon break and Mel showed up. As a kid I only knew him as Skip and he is staying Skip in my brain. For close to two hours we were given a tour and listened to his vision and it was incredible. We went in one of the cabins that my family used to rent and he had a sign in it from a very long time ago that read “Boat Rentals 50 cents a Day/ Cabins $12.00 Per Week.” This place was established in 1910 and Skip and Julie have a goal that once it is ready to reopen, it will be a happy place for people to come and stay.
I am really glad that I had the brainstorm to call Skip/Mel and Julie. Wish them luck! Sunset.
Melvin “Skip” Breunig with a very interesting sign from days gone by!
Mark Walters stayed at Stan’s Puckaway Resort at least 150 nights of his life!
Michelle Chiaro with a heck of a big bluegill that she caught on Lake Puckaway.