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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-6-2015

by Mark Walters

Good Fun on Puckaway

Hello friends,

This past week I took part in my first official walleye fishing tournament. This 15th annual Lake Puckaway walleye tournament was run by Bob and Carrie Hill, who are the owners of “Tucked Away” tavern in Marquette, Wi and this 50-boat tournament was held on Lake Puckaway which is where Wisconsin’s state record northern pike (38 pounds, landed back in 1952) was caught.

My partner on this “adventure’ would be my 23-year-old stepson, Travis Dushek and of course my golden retriever “Fire”.

Saturday, April 25th
High 61, low 35

There are some important memo’s that need to be put into this story. One, there has been an extreme cold spell and it has shut down the walleye bite on this 5,000-acre lake that has a maximum depth of six-feet.

Yesterday, Travis and I pre-fished and we trolled with crankbaits and crawler harnesses and drifted with leeches, minnows and crawlers. For our efforts we were rewarded with one catfish and one sheephead.

At the tournament meeting last night, which I might add was a whole bunch of fun, and was held at Tucked Away a non-bite seemed to be common talk.

In this tournament, each team may enter a total of six walleye that must measure at least 15-inches. Last year the catch was incredible, with most teams catching their six fish early in the day and the winning team taking the money with 23-pounds of walleye.

The way I found out about this tournament was that I came here to fish out of my canoe for walleye and watched the weigh in, made some new friends, hung out at Tucked Away and decided to enter this year.

So last night, Travis and I had a “big night” at Tucked Away and he slept in the back seat of his Chevy pickup (that did not work out well) and I slept in the bed of mine.

When the rooster was crowing this morning I discovered that when I went to bed, I was so tired that I used a gas jug “full” as a pillow and had a real pillow just an arms length away.

So this morning it is very cold and very windy. The 50-boat line up has each boat operator motoring up to a pier for a livewell inspection and then in numerical order each team gets to takeoff and go catch walleye.

Travis and I observed all our competition and came to the conclusion that perhaps my 16-foot Northport Troller, that is pushed by a 40-horse Mercury (late 80’s) was probably the oldest, smallest, ugliest, rig worth the least amount of money in the tournament.

So Trav and I head out to one of our “secret spots” and within minutes I am fighting a dandy that fell prey to one of my crankbaits. Just netting my trophy was a challenge for Travis because, like I said, it was very windy.

Reality struck when my hog walleye was a two-pound catfish. Travis and I fished our butts off. Always checking lines that picked up a lot of weeds and changing tactics and watching our competition.

I am serious when I say that we really put everything that we had into this experience and fished right until the last minute that we could. Our end results were two catfish and a sheephead.

At the weigh in, there certainly were walleye caught but out of 100 anglers, and most of these guys and gals are very good at catching walleye, only 38 walleye were weighed in.

My new buddies, commonly known in the area as “Two Grumpy Men”, Harry Bowey and Wally Steinke of Princeton won with two walleye that gave them a total of 9-pounds.

My good pal, Justen Kohn and his partner Mike Glover took second and caught both of their fish in the first half hour of the day.

I watched each fish being weighed and almost everyone weighed just over a pound.

Travis and I felt no shame as we tried hard, played hard and laughed a lot.

In case anyone forgot, I am in the market for an upgrade in the boat department!

We shall return!  Sunset

THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Hiawatha National Bank