Outdoor Notebook: Annual fishing trip a wonderful tradition
What is a tradition? For many of our readers a tradition is some activity that is repeated year after year. For me most of the traditions that we participate in are related to grandchildren, hunting or fishing. Sometimes all three of these elements are involved.
Just over a week ago, I met Steve Heiting at his home in Woodruff. Steve is the managing editor of “Musky Hunter Magazine” and has the opportunity to go on some great fishing trips. Steve and I drove to Park Falls and picked up Rich Belanger. Rich works for the St. Croix Rod Company and coordinates the St. Croix Pro Staff.
From Park Falls, we continued on to the famous Chippewa Flowage where we met Dave Dorazio, who has been guiding anglers in the Hayward area since he was a teenager. Dave’s boat was pulled up to a dock and was ready to go out on the Flowage in search of crappies and walleyes.
We have made this trip for about 20 years and hope to continue for many years to come. During the years we have made this journey, we have noticed that the Hayward area is usually about two weeks ahead of us as far as the arrival of spring. That area had open water for opening weekend again this year.
We decided that we should begin fishing by trying to catch some crappies. Dave steered the boat toward a relatively shallow bay that had weeds in several locations. The bottom in this bay was black mud and the water was about three degrees warmer than the water temperature in the larger part of the larger lake.
We rigged up by tying a small pinkie jig with a marabou tail on it. A small float was tied on allowing the pinkie to hang about two feet beneath the surface. As usual the four of us began to cast toward a small bog in the bay. Dave caught two crappies before the rest of us even had a bite.
During the next couple of hours we each caught plenty crappies to keep us happy. In addition to the crappies we caught northerns, bass and a few bluegills. At one point Dave said, “Hey guys, look up in that tall popple tree. What is that black thing near the top of the tree?” We all stopped fishing for a few minutes and watched the “black thing” in the tree. That “black thing” was a small black bear.
The bear was sitting on a rather small branch that somehow was able to support it. After watching for some time we concluded that the bear was eating popple buds.
As we continued fishing we commented that there were very few other boats on the water.
After fishing most of the afternoon, we decided to cast a shallow shoreline with crank baits and then head in for supper. Again, while fishing near the dock, we noticed someone standing on his pontoon boat that was tied to his dock looking up into a popple tree. There in the tree, which was between the fellow and the shore, about 10 feet above the deck of the pontoon boat was a rather large black bear. This bear was much larger than the first one that we had seen. Rich managed to get a picture but I did not. (The best camera is the one that you have with you.)
Oh yes, before we sat down for supper we cleaned some nice crappies and three walleyes. Two of the walleyes were over 20 inches long.
After supper we parted company and vowed to keep the tradition going next year.
We traveled home as the sun was setting and saw 41 deer along the side of the road.
As previously mentioned, some other traditions that I enjoy involve deer hunting, trout fishing, turkey hunting, grouse hunting and fishing with our grandchildren.
Many people can identify at least some traditions they are a part of. If not it is never to late to start some that would give you the opportunity to get together with family and friends.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.