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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-15-2013

by Mark Walters

Rowan Creek, A Good Friend!

Hello friends,

Twenty-four years ago today I climbed into a tree that was located above a bear bait and wrote my first column, which was for the Poynette Press.   I was living in the Canadian bush at the time, and managing Chimo Lodge, and also spending a lot of time working at Chimo’s 11 fly-in outposts.

This week I thought I would head to Columbia County and give my hometown paper something local.

Tuesday, May 7th
High 73, low 43

When I was a young boy growing up in Poynette it was the late 60’s and all of the 70’s.  My parents were doing something that was rare back then and that was they were going through a divorce. What was even more unique about our situation was, that my mom lived in Florida and my dad, the late Robert Walters, raised myself, and three of my five brothers and sisters.

My parents divorce was crippling for my youth and I developed two escapes, one was working on a local dairy farm (hi Lavern and Vivian Gorman) and the other, which was my main escape, was fishing for trout on Rowan Creek, which runs right through town.

I also taught myself to trap muskrats, on what was my home away from home, and hunted rabbits and pheasant along its peaceful banks.

I can remember perfectly what, back then, was a huge day each year and that was when trout fishing would open and the banks of Rowan Creek would be lined with fishermen, as night became day on the first Saturday of May.

This year I thought I would do something totally new for myself and that is, I would put my canoe in at Whalen’s Grade, which is where Rowan Creek enters Lake Wisconsin, and hopefully find some trout and live on the creek for a night with my trusty pup “Fire”.

This adventure has complications, as shallow water insures that motorized boats and lots of muck and cattails keep 99.9 percent of all outdoorsmen away.

As usual I am running late. My canoe is packed with fishing gear as well a bedroll. I find the creek and it is beautiful with no sign of human beings “yeah”!   I paddle past several deep holes trying to get to cold water.

I am wearing chest waders and land my canoe above a long, deep hole. I break off a stick, put a crawler on a hook, cast out my bait and lean my fishing pole against the stick.

In a blink of an eye, my rod is bending over and a solid fish is fighting hard in the current.   I am relieved to see that it is a trout and land a brown that is just over 12-inches.

Instantly I make the decision that I will sleep at this spot and life is good.  Because the shoreline is very damp, I decide to sleep in my canoe, life is still good.

An hour after my arrival, and shortly before dark, I have a trout that I believe would have topped 20-inches break my line. Ducks and geese are constantly buzzing overhead and in my mind many are shot with perfect retrieves by my trusty pup.

After dark, I enter my bedroom and my bed is made up of a foam pad, a sleeping bag on top of it and my tents fly over my sleeping bag to ward off the heavy dew that would soon envelope my world.  My trusty pup enters the bedroom and sleeps by my head.  She must have been tired, because like a teenager, she stays in bed until just before noon the next day.

Wednesday, May 8th
High 79, low 44

I was fishing at first light and being bombarded by ducks and geese, many limits were harvested.  I was surprised when the bite was very minimal at primetime and even climbed back in my canoe and watched my pole from my bedroom.

My ambition kicked in soon after that and so did the fish bite.   First I caught a sucker, next a couple of nine-inch browns and then the dandy of the trip.

I knew I had a good fish and hoped it was a trout as I did my best to keep it out of the deadfalls that were lying in the creek.   I was ecstatic when I saw it was a trout and when I put a tape measure to my trophy it was a solid 19-inches, ain’t life sweet, yippie, ki, yay!

The sun became high in the sky; I woke my pup, loaded my canoe, and paddled back to my trusty ‘96 Chevy.

Rowan Creek has always been good to me!  Sunset