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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 6-19-2013

by Mark Walters

A Night on Puckaway

Hello friends,

When I was a kid growing up in Poynette, the lake that my dad, my brothers, and myself fished the most often was Lake Puckaway, which is located in Green Lake County and we stayed at Stan’s Puckaway Resort in Marquette.

When I say stayed, I mean camped in a tent (except for every other year, dad would rent a cabin for the week), used an outhouse and dad either cooked on the grill or with a two burner Coleman stove.

In our peak, Dad and I camped at Stan’s ten times a season and let me tell you we were fish catching machines.

Before it was even getting light out, dad would be cooking eggs and making toast. Next, if my brothers were along, dad towed them behind our rental boat using a 6-horse Mercury outboard and Tom and Mike were in a ten-foot flat bottom boat.

We would do the long ride to the east end of the lake and just as it was getting light out, drift and cast Mepp’s Spinners. For the most part, we would load the stringers up with northern pike in the 24-28 inch range with generally a bonus walleye.

When the sun killed the gator bite we headed into the weeds for bullheads and bluegills and we always came back to camp with a basketful of fish.

This week I returned to Puckaway, launched my boat at the public landing at Stan’s, called my boat home for a night, lived in memories of yesteryear and caught a ton of fish.

Sunday, June 9th

High, 71, low 50

It has been years since I pulled into Stan’s and my first observation is that it has been closed for a long time, and next a local canoe fisherman told me that Stan passed away (go to heaven pal, you were an excellent resort operator).

I was given a tip on a spot to catch some big gills but told that yesterday was the day to be here. With a ton on my mind, my pup Fire for a companion, and lots of gear I headed my 16-foot MirroCraft towards fish paradise. It was late in the day and I caught a bluegill, three sheephead, and one channel cat and was enduring some strong winds when I made an executive decision to head to an island that I have fished near in the past, where I might get out of the wind.

Comorants are a nasty, fish eating bird that live in trees and make a lot of noise. I set up shop near a colony of these birds and rigged three poles with large bobbers; number 10 hooks baited with a crawler and began catfishing.

Next, I prepared two propane lanterns for my night on the water and just like that, the cats were hungry. Fishing and catching catfish, especially when alone and in the dark is kind of crazy. Here is an example, I am alone, I am listening to classic rock and roll music, I am enjoying a cold Leinenkugels! Holy Moly, something is trying to pull my pole in the water. Channel cats have no finesse about the way they bite. They grab the crawler and head for the other end of the lake at full speed. Netting a catfish and keeping it out of your other lines is also a challenge.

By 11:00 pm., with additional background music being provided by the comorants which fly into their colony all night long and make constant sounds like a dinosaur, I had five cats in the livewell and I am thinking, maybe I could catch a limit of ten if I played my cards right.

By midnight, I had 8 cats in the livewell and I am thinking I can do this! Just after 1:30 a.m. my last cat, which was a hard fighting 8-pounder joined his comrades and I attempted to take a picture of all ten with my self-picture taker on my camera (you have no idea some of the crazy stunts I do to provide picks when alone).

Soon after that I was laying out my bedroll in the bottom of my boat and looking at the stars and thinking happy thoughts while listening to the comorants above me.

I had put my cats on a stringer for the photo and put them in the lake when I went to bed. At 3:15 a.m. I heard a huge, underwater, air type of explosion and then my cats started going nuts on the stringer.

In a complete half sleep, I shined a light over the side of the boat and came face to face with the largest snapping turtle that I have ever seen in my life and he was trying to eat fresh catfish.

The executive decision was made to put my catch back in the livewell and then I slept like a baby in paradise.

The next morning, I had motor problems and then went bluegill fishing, I caught some of the largest bluegill I have ever seen in my life and highly recommend Puckaway for quality fishing.

A special thanks to Stan and Emily Kocurek for running an awesome resort and my dad, the late Robert Walters for taking me there!