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Restless anglers fill the lakes on windy opener

Restless anglers fill the lakes on windy opener Restless anglers fill the lakes on windy opener

Saturday’s opener of the 2020 Wisconsin Inland Game Fishing Season to me qualifies as a “rager” by anyone’s standards. I don’t recall an opening weekend that I ever saw as many people fishing as this one.

In these days of social distancing, I don’t think that any boat that didn’t leak would see water, and even those boats that leaked, but not real fast, probably saw water.

I knew a lot of old-timers in my youth who talked about the old wooden jon boats they rented by a lake. For them, the most necessary piece of equipment required for a day of fishing next to a bucket of beer bottles covered in ice was a bail bucket. Buckets usually came before poles back in those days. I’m sure they didn’t exaggerate at all.

My opener started with a full morning of turkey hunting, and again, I heard nothing gobbling and didn’t see a single tom in any field. It’s Josh’s season, and we ended the morning in a tent blind, where turkeys normally work around through the woods, until it became just too hot to enjoy the hunting. That was followed by an afternoon of projects before we headed to a lake to try catching some fish, despite the windy conditions.

I never launched the boat because at the landing the parking area was full and rigs and others were parked down the roads quite a way. There were kayaks, pontoons and fishing boats galore every direction I looked.

My knees were throbbing and my back aching and threatening to spasm, despite a thorough stretching and exercises designed to remedy back strain. We headed home for some burgers and ended the evening on the deck with a cocktail. It was early to bed, to get ready for some turkey hunting in the morning.

There were people trying their luck at bank fishing. It’s a great family activity. A warden told me he expects to see families out fishing this weekend. A friend of mine predicted that this was going to be a heavily fished weekend despite the wind — he was right. I called a buddy who, due to his health condition, didn’t fish because social distancing is important to him, but he did visit several lakes on a drive he and his wife took. His survey started by Lake Wissota to Oneida County lakes. They never got out of the car, but he told me every lake he saw was full of boats and plenty of bank fishers as well. Sunday didn’t involve any projects — I learned my lesson from the day before — and we couldn’t fish in the evening due to a planned family gathering by computer for some talking and games. I spent the evening on the deck with a couple dogs. We did fish a small lake that I hoped would provide some wind protected area and it really didn’t. The Queen Lori is my mostly dedicated duck boat, but with the F.S. Lori still under engine repair, the blind was taken off and it once again picked up the fishing duties. Fishing out of it in the wind with the trolling motor isn’t the boat’s forte anymore, and I don’t like fishing in wind to begin with. But it was fishing, northern being the targeted species. I had one strike that didn’t hook up. The soft bait was toast, however.

Wind is something I worry about on certain bodies of water, when waves become extreme. Small craft advisories cover all the types of boats any of us own. Caution and good judgement need to be used; mechanical failure cost my dad’s best friend his life on Lake Michigan in an April storm back in ‘72.

Someone, somewhere, becomes a statistic every year, I don’t want to become a statistic. The Queen Lori can handle water and the lake we were on didn’t produce Deadliest Catch type waves, but the wind still pushed the boat constantly.

I did see that some friends landed some very nice fish, especially on Saturday before the front came through. Congrats to all that did well. Some caught enough panfish for a meal, with some nice looking crappie in their catch.

With east winds predicted for Monday, I don’t see me spending a lot of time on a lake. I don’t usually have good luck on lakes in east winds. Trout fishing is something my knees don’t handle well so I’m looking forward to next weekend. In the meantime, tight lines everyone.