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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 8-28-2013

by Mark Walters

A Day in the life of an Outdoor Adventures Writer

Hello friends,

This week’s column begins at bedtime on a Wednesday night and ends two days later on a Friday!

Wednesday, August 14th
High 81, low 55

My 12-year-old daughter Selina and I have an annual tradition and that is to sleep on our trampoline. Tonight was the night and along with Selina and myself our male cat Yellow/Vanilla and our golden retriever Fire would be our companions.

As usual this is a perfect experience with star gazing, lots of talk, and snuggling with the pets. Vanilla spent much of the night with all four of his paws wrapped around my head except at about 2:00 a.m. when he got into a first rate, one hour long fight with a stray tom cat. In the morning there was bunch of fur on the ground and not a scratch on Vanilla.

I was up early and doing paperwork while Selina slept. I was at my kitchen table and watching one of my chickens out the window when I saw a huge coyote trying to sneak up on the chicken and have a tasty breakfast. By the time I had some buckshot in the 12-gauge the coyote was gone.

This afternoon I drove over to Port Washington with my canoe on the top of my truck.

My plan was to paddle my canoe until about midnight with the hopes of catching a salmon, take a short break and then resume paddling about 3:00 a.m. for what is generally the best bite of the day (between 4-7 a.m.). That plan came to complete halt when I arrived at the public boat launch in Port Washington and there were several trailered boats and hopeful fishermen hanging out waiting for the wind to let up.

Over the next three hours it was obvious as I watched boats hit the harbor and turn around that I would not be able to paddle a canoe on Lake Michigan.

Perhaps my “gold mine of the trip” would be meeting Rod Osterhaus and a couple of his boys. Rod was waiting for the wind to die and we talked at length, as he reads this column, he is from Pardeeville, an agriculture and tech-ed teacher at Sun Prairie and most importantly a very avid outdoorsmen.

This fall amongst other things Rod will be attempting to certify 80 8th and 9th graders bow hunter, trapper, boating and hunting education. If we could get more people involved in teaching our youth outdoor skills this world would be a better place.

I had my canoe ready for the water and all I could do was watch the flag, which was blowing like a kite, all fishermen went home without launching their boats and my hopes went to a 2:30 a.m. attempt.

At 4:00 the wind let up enough to hit the big lake and I headed northeast and set out two poles with one rigged with a 1.5 ounce weight the other a 3 ounce and both had glow spoons on them.

About 9:30 I had not had a hit, the wind was letting up, and I am thinking I might as well head back to shore as I watched basically everyone head in after a morning of fishing.

The survivor in me said I need to stay out to sea, so instead of working 80 feet of water I headed east with a goal of hitting 200-feet which I am thinking has to be at least six-miles from shore.

There is another part to this story that happened at the same time. A patch in my canoes belly began a very slow leak that was fixed Gorilla Glue. If the leak did not get worse I was fine, if it opened up more, I had issues.

I made it to 165-feet and realized I was running out of time to make it home for a Friday night fish fry.

The rest of this experience that actually began about 42 hours earlier on my trampoline was one of physical endurance as I paddled towards shore. When I made it to the lighthouse there was a couple of kids sitting on lawn chairs that asked me what I had caught. My answer was not good. The kids had been out a couple of hours, looked very comfortable and had a beautiful rainbow trout.

The ride home was more of a challenge then any other part of this trip but I made that fish fry and still have an incredible desire to catch my next salmon out of a canoe.

I love my job! Sunset