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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-8-2013

An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-8-2013
A column by Mark Walters

Living on the Ice in late April

Hello friends,

The life that I live is sometimes quite different than the average person’s and my ties to Mother Nature are very close.  Back on January 18th I asked for cold, wet weather until March 31st and I was granted that request plus, at least, an extra month.

This week my good buddy Paul Bucher out of Cumberland told me that he was catching humongous bluegill on Polk Counties, Big Round Lake and that he had a solid 24-inches of ice.

Those sweet words were all that I needed to hear so I packed up my 4-wheeler, camping gear, sleds and my dog “Fire” to go live on the ice, watch my buddy Paul on his first winter camping trip and hopefully catch some slobasauras “gills”!

Friday, April 26th
High 71, low 29

The daily meeting of the minds at Indianhead Sport Shop in Cumberland, where my buddy Tim Twait is Head Hunta, made a solid decision one minute after my arrival this morning.  That decision was that driving my 4-wheeler on the ice was probably no longer an option.

Yay me, I thought, as I looked at my tired old pickup “trusty steed” that had just pulled it 150-miles from home for the fun of it.   My next decision was a challenge of sizeable proportions as well.    My buddy “Boog” has been catching the big gills close to a mile from the public landing. This is no big deal if one is pulling their gear with a four-wheeler.  All told I had three large Otter Sleds with possibly 250-pounds of gear.

Here is the problem, that landing had gone bye, bye due to sun and current from a creek that enters Big Round.

First order of business! Knock on several doors to try to get access to the lake closer to where I would camp.  Problems with my plan!  Shore ice is gone or no one is home on a lake that I am seeing for the first time.

Final, and hopefully a successful plan.  Leave my truck, which has not locked for ten years at the only place I could find shore ice, which was on the St Croix Indian Reservation.   My advice as I knocked on doors was leave it at your own risk.

Next challenge (my buddy Boog could not show up until all gear was at the honey hole and camp was built) was getting all of my gear to “bluegill central” which was a thousand yard slog.   This experience (two trips) was one of grunts and groans, lots of sweating and the feeling that my pal was watching me with binoculars and waiting for me to tell him camp was built.

Camp is built; I have a dead stick out with a crappie minnow and caught a nice bass.

Paul shows up, I walk to his truck and we get his gear out to camp.  Primetime arrives; the weather is incredible as is the sunset. Towards dark it does cool off and the holes even get skim ice.  We do not kick butt, but in end we have 15 very pretty gills in the buckets with the largest reaching 9.75 inches.

We retreat to my Eskimo “Fat Fish” cabin on the ice (awesome tent).   We hope to catch crappie after dark, listen to music and laugh a lot.  Hopes for success are not high, as we did not catch much for crappie yet today.

Paul drops his crappie minnow down the hole, his slip bobber vanishes. Paul catches an 11-inch crappie, party on, classic rock, adult beverages and a pork chop dinner that was served after the clock struck 12, are all part of the last night on the ice for Mark Walters and Paul Bucher this spring.

One week later I write this story, northwest Wisconsin has over a foot of snow on the ground, there is still ice on many lakes, fishing season opens in 14-hours and my sweetheart Mother Nature is looking down at me and once again saying, “be careful of what you ask for”!

Adjust to ADVERSITY! Whining will do you no good!   Sunset

P.S.  Rumor has it that after his challenge on the ice, Mr. Bucher will be leading a dog sledding expedition to Antarctica!