by Mark Walters
Trout? Fishing Trip!
Last May I canoed up a creek that empties into the Wisconsin River, in Columbia County, and fished for trout. I had never been to this section of stream before and it is seldom fished because of the work and amount of time that it takes to reach it.
The shoreline is so marshy that I slept in my canoe and fishing wise, I was rewarded with a 19-brown, caught several 9-13’s and lost one that was at least 22.
This week, I took my 13-year-old daughter Selina and 13-year-old nephew Dylan Walters on a canoe camping, and trout fishing weekend that was full of nature and adventure.
Friday, May 2nd
High 62, low 44
As usual, we had more gear, dog, and people then one canoe could handle on a trip like this; so the kids and I would be pulling a fully loaded canoe behind the one that we were paddling, as we moved steadily along trying to beat approaching rain and fading daylight.
For a tent on this trip we would use a 12×14 screen tent that we would tarp. This would give us the option of a complete view with a lot of space or a weather proof tent.
Dylan and Selina are the same age and great friends as they have traveled together in the outdoor world all their lives.. This would be the first time that they canoe camped and I was hopefully going to help each of them catch their first trout.
Tonight, I woke the kids up about 11:00 p.m to eat a plate of stroganoff that I had just made, moments later they were both sound a sleep in their sleeping bags.
Our camp is on the only dry land that I know of in the vicinity, and is maybe a 1-acre oak island that is surrounded by hundreds of acres of marsh. There are hundreds of ducks and at least a hundred Canada geese close by and tonight I learned that Canada geese have a tendency to talk a lot. Some of the geese were only 50-yards away, others were up to a mile away. As I laid in my sleeping bag I listened to some of the individuals and a few of them never shut up. At 12:38, the wind picked up and the tarps on my screen tent became very loud. Bottom line, I was still wide awake when it became light out and thinking that some Canada geese have a very low amount of brain cells.
Saturday, May 3rd
High 65, low 40
This would end up being a learn a lot about nature, how to cast in a canoe, and how to paddle a canoe on a narrow creek kind of a trip for the kids. This morning we hit trout paradise, which is a 50-foot long hole that is at least 8-feet deep and I have to tell you that I was really excited. I made each of the kids a rod holder out of a tag alder bow, and rigged them up with the traditional split shot, hook, and cralwer rig that is a standard trout killer. The first sign of bad luck, other than the high water, was when Selina kept showing me worms that were flowing down the stream (worms and insects get washed into streams and can create a long term smorgasbord for trout).
The second bit of bad luck came when after an hour we had not had a hit and we realized that there is a nasty snag in our trout pool.
On the positive side, it is hilarious watching these two kids; they painted their faces with mud, and dreamt up a new chewing gum invention with the ingredient being tag alder bark. We caught a baby mouse that was named “Sqeaky” because it was very loud and Dylan lost it when he put it in his hip boots.
After five hours of not losing a crawler (an excellent nap was taken by yours truly) we paddled back to camp (1.5 miles) and on the way back, the kids tossed spinners and crankbaits and did not get a hit.
When we reached camp, it had been decimated by strong winds. We rebuilt it and tied everything off and I cooked pork chops while the kids explored. Later, we paddled back to trout paradise and did not lose a crawler and I was thinking that possibly we were in a dreaded “non-bite” (should at least have caught a sucker).
The paddle back to camp was in the dark and my partners and I became a canoe paddling team in just one day of lessons. We had a beautiful campfire, listened to the mindless geese, and the kids were out by 11:00.
The following morning, Selina had a bite and her trophy busted her line in the snag. Three hours later we were pulling lines and Dylan had a fish on his. When it was landed, it was a sucker and it had Selina’s broken line in it’s mouth as well as Dylan’s.
I have never fished trout and had such poor results. On the other hand, as usual, this pair of cousins had a blast and learned a ton on another successful outdoor adventure.
You can’t make them bite! Sunset.
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank