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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 5-20-2015

by Mark Walters

Adventure on the Marengo

Hello friends,

Back in the winter of 2013/14, I did a column on the condition of Wisconsin’s deer herd. I spent a day in Ashland County on snowmobiles with Chuck Rieb and Logan Nortunen on the Nortunen’s land and adjoining properties hiking and snowmobiling down the Marengo River.

This section of river is very much as it was 500-years ago and the steep descent down to the river is quite the thrill whether driving a snowmobile, a four-wheeler or a side by side.

Logan Nortunen is 21, works at a dairy farm for six-months out of the year and for Xcel Energy the other six months of the year. What really defines Logan is that he is very much an outdoorsman and loves his families property as well as the entire area.

One thing that I remembered about our winter adventure was Logan telling me about fishing on the Marnego in both the spring and fall; and being able to catch anything from trophy walleye to 20-inch browns and my friends that is what this week’s column is about.

Saturday, May 9th
High 48, low 29

Chuck and Caryn Rieb were my neighbors when I lived here and we had a ton of fun both sitting around campfires and on some hardcore survival trips.

Today, Chuck would be behind Logan and I as we made the journey down to the Marengo by four-wheeler and on a Polaris “Ranger” side by side. The trail is narrow and both machines were true mules as we made our way down to the river.

Though we had minnows, crawlers and lots of tackle this adventure was more about getting together then how many fish we could catch and the first call was just made yesterday for it to actually happen.

The Marengo enters the Bad River which flows into Chequamegon Bay (Lake Superior) near Ashland, which is why basically any species of fish can be swimming in it during the cold water season; which up here is about 9-months out of the year.

My goal is trout anything else and a cold beer. Logan wants to catch a big walleye and has seen many come out of here and Chuck likes to fish but also enjoys a cold beer.

We started fishing and Logan is using jigs, spoons and crankbaits. I have one pole rigged with a crawler and am casting cranks with another. Chucks worming it and life is good as we enjoy picture perfect scenery and camaraderie.

About all we are catching at first is chubs, then Logan goes for a hike and comes back with a 19-inch walleye and a handful of leeks, that are a cross between an onion and garlic and were a staple of my diet when I hiked the Appalachain Trail

We laugh, enjoy beer, tell stories, listen to a turkey gobble and when the magic time came I got kind of lucky and caught 3 smallmouth bass with the biggest being 18-inches a nice brookie, a pail full of chubs and some hog, red horse.

The walleye and brookie are kept for a campfire meal the next morning and well after dark we made the journey back to Logan’s home.

It was so cold on that ride that my old buddy Chuckie was basically frozen stiff when he got off his four-wheeler.

Sunday, May 10th
High 51, low 27

There was frost on the four-wheeler this morning and we were back on the Marengo at 5:30 a.m. The turkey was gobbling and we figured that we would be rewarded with some big fish for being on the river so early in the morning. At first it was chubs and red horse and then everything just quit biting and no matter what we used, we could not buy a bite.

It was Mothers Day and Chuck left before Logan and I did. Logan built a campfire, I filleted our catch with an extremely dull knife and we made a packet of fish fillets for each of us and put leaks next to them.

Our feast was cooked over the fire, could not have turned out better and was a great way to end a really cool experience.

Live large, Sunset