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An Outdoorsman’s Columns – 2-18-2015

by Mark Walters

Victory on the Mississippi!

Hello friends,

This week my 14-year-old daughter, Selina, and I headed down to Prairie du Chien to visit our very good friends Gary and Joan Howe and fish out of a boat on the ice.

Saturday, February 7th
High 39, low 13

As is sometimes the case, this week’s column is all over the map so here goes. Gary Howe, Selina and I are headed to Guttenberg, Iowa. When we arrive we will launch Gary’s 16-foot flat bottom boat across a patch of ice and then hit the open water at Lock and Dam number 10 and fish for walleye and sauger by vertical jigging.

Gary Howe has been a good buddy of mine since the mid ‘90’s owns a few papers in the area and every year we try to do a warm weather and cold weather outing together.

Twice in the past I have fished this method with Gary Howe. This winter Gary and his comrades Bob Titlbach, Jerry Finney, Jeff Wolf, John Howe and Dave Coorough have been having excellent success at catching walleye and sauger in this somewhat crazy method of fishing.

Here is what you do, if your motor starts (Mr Howe’s froze up this morning and had to be thawed) you ease your way over to the dam which is where the only open water is and your vertical jig amongst the always changing ice flow that is flowing through the dam.

Just launching your boat can be very interesting as first you drop it on the ice, then you push it to open water, then you push it in the river, making sure to jump in the boat on time. Trailering your boat can be very physical and somewhat dangerous.

So Selina and I are listening to the nonstop stories of our good buddy, the air temp to start our outing is a crisp 13 and the local school of walleye and sauger are not hungry.

For the most part we are jigging ½ ounce jigs tipped with a minnow or Sonars. There are a total of five boats below the dam and quite often you may be bumping your neighbor, as the current and ice flow are the real bosses out here.

As always we snack on pickled eggs (Selina declines) and hope the fish will get hungry.

Of all the activities in the outdoors that I take part in this may be the one that is the combo platter of the most dangerous while requiring the most skill. None of us lit the river on fire with a hot bite but everyone caught more fish then Selina and I.

In one burst of energy Gary did catch a 20 and 18-inch walleye but that lasted about as long as you can see a falling star.

We topped off our day ice fishing and did not catch a fish, but as usual laughed a lot.

Sunday, February 8th
High 33, low 17

Now here is the real joke! I have fished in Prairie du Chien’s annual fisheree (65th) off and on for about 16-years. I have never caught a fish in it. Our plan today was to tip up fish in this fisheree that is run by the Chamber of Commerce, the PDC Jaycee’s and the American Legion baseball team and is run out of Lakeview Resort, which is a very cool bar and restaurant on the north end of town.

This fisheree is a big deal in the area and attracts a lot of people and by God I needed to get on the board with a fish. So we have our out tip ups out and Selina who has not got a bite all weekend gets a flag. My little girl does an excellent job of landing a gator that would later weigh just shy of ten pounds. Moments later Selina tells us where she wants to put her 3rd tip up. It was not ten minutes and the flag goes up and Selina ices a gator that tipped the scale at 6.5 pounds.

Ten minutes later I have a flag and I catch a gator that was only about 15-inches but I got the monkey off my back.

We head over to Lakeview and after weighing Selina’s two gators find out that she is now in 1st and 2nd place in the kids division with her two northern pike. We ate lunch, visited with a whole bunch of people and when the weigh in’s closed at 2:00 p.m. my little girl who was in her first fisheree had taken first and second in the gator division for the kids end of this fisheree!

Soon after that we were headed home to Necedah and Selina told me that she wants to make this an annual trip.

We laughed a lot on this trip and were very tired when we got home! Sunset