Fishing and Hunting in Eastern Wisconsin


Okay, 2018 is over. Looking back, it didn’t go quite as I had hoped. (Does it ever?) Allow me to fill you in. This is how it was where I live and play—Southeast and Northeast Wisconsin.

We hunted squirrels and bunnies in January and February. We only had modest results, but the outings were fun. (We had very little snow for skiing and/or snowshoeing.)

In March, we hauled some sap for Riveredge Nature Center so they could make some maple syrup and went down to Lake of the Woods to visit our youngest daughter. There, we fished a bit and caught a couple of crappies but nothing to brag about in either quantity or size. (Down there, they have a 10-inch size limit on crappies, which, for that area, is not a big fish.)

April and May were dominated with personal, and my wife’s, eye surgeries, but in-between we managed to open the cottage, and do things up north and around the house. We also launched my friend’s boat into Lake Michigan, so we could go out and try to refill our freezers with fresh-caught salmon. We caught a few, but did not fill our freezers. That may take a while, or so we thought! (They never did get filled.)

Also in May, during my first turkey season, the second season in zone 2, for a variety of reasons, mainly my eye work, I ended up with only one partial day of hunting, and that day it rained…hard. Later, in zone 5, during the fifth season, I watched several hens and one jake. That jake had a beard so small I would have been embarrassed if I had shot it.

As the year progressed, the panfish I caught were numerous enough, but on the small side. I never had to clean any.

Between rains and the resulting high water, I managed to get into the Milwaukee River a couple of times. There, I caught some smallmouth bass and lost one big fish. Its species I never got to find out because it bit me off. I am guessing it was a good-sized northern pike, but cannot be sure. (For those who do not know me, I am a fly fisherman.)

Fall came up a bit short last year, I did not find time to fish for muskies nor walk the trails for ruffed grouse or weave through the alders for woodcock.

My fall salmon fishing in the rivers in the south were good, albeit short. When I did get out, I had fun.

Now that I review all this, I guess life wasn’t so bad. I watched turkeys, saw fantastic sunrises and played with salmon on the fly rod.

Besides all that, some other really good things happened.

Our oldest daughter advanced in her fly-fishing. She is getting pretty good at casting, but still needs work on mending during the drift. I will have to get her to the streams in the southwestern part of our state, the Driftless area, this year. I think she is ready for that and know she will like it.

Our youngest daughter and her husband now live on the Lake of the Ozarks, so I have a new place to look forward to visiting and learning about a different kind of fishing. (They have spoonbill catfish that leap out of the water during certain times of the year.)

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And we did get the cottage in the north closed for the winter before the cold and snow set in. It is always sad when we have to close for the year, but nowhere as sad if we have to do it in cold, wet, conditions.

That was 2018, as far as it has gone (this is being written before the year ends – our stories always are written four to six weeks before publication). I still have some good hunting time ahead, hopefully, and you’ll hear about how that went later.

Meanwhile, looking ahead to 2019

I would like enough snow to ski and snowshoe.

I would like less water when the steelheads run to spawn.

I would like to hear the gobblers talk during the early, pre-sunrise mornings of late April and May.

I would like to have one trip north when the smallmouth bass are in the shallows during pre-spawn.

I would like more sunrises on Lake Michigan. Preferably with more interruptions of the view by salmon as they tell us that we did a good job cleaning all those lures this past winter.

I hope to be there when our oldest daughter catches four or five, 10 to 12-inch, brookies on a fly she has tied.

I would not be upset if the streamer I designed and tied for our youngest daughter’s family proves to be just what those Missouri white bass are looking for when they are chasing the shad. I’d like to be there catching them on my three-weight when they do.

I hope to walk trails and young poplar groves for ruffed grouse and woodcock, that the grouse numbers will be up and that I will hit the woodcock migration just right so I can scare a few of each with some 7 1/2 shot.

And that we, as a family, get to toast many sunsets along the riverbank where we are fortunate enough to have a cottage.

Finally, I hope our entire family remains healthy and happy enough to enjoy every day of life.

That is what I wish for in 2019. How about you?