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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 9-9-2015

by Mark Walters

“The Minuteman Musky Outing” 2015

Hello friends,

Back in 2004, I got into my first musky fishing tournament “Musky Mania” which was held at Moose Jaw Resort on Pike and Round chain of lakes.

At that time, I entered into this tournament with my good buddy Jeff Neitzel, who I met back in 1981 when I joined the Wisconsin Air National Guard and was a member of the 115th Tactical Fighter Wing at Truax Field.

In that fifty-boat tournament a good ten of the teams had been members at Truax and we used this two-day outing as an annual reunion and holy moly did we ever fun.

As the years passed, a lot of people from my deer camp and family joined in on the fun.

Two years ago, we made a decision to move to a larger body of water and start our own weekend of “festivities”. Matt Symon’s, a current member at Truax, did a ton of research and communication and put together what we now call “The Minuteman Musky Outing”.

We fish the 15,300 acre Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County and our headquarters is at Deerfoot Lodge and Resort (715-462-3328) where Amanda Wilson and her parents, Bev and Jim, make us feel like we own the place for the weekend.

Saturday, August 29th
High 83, low 54

I have been out of the Air National Guard for 28-years and yet when I see these guys it seems like it has only been a couple since we were loading munitions on A-10 fighter jets.

What we do on Fridays before this tournament starts is launch our boats, maybe prefish and then head up to the lodge or the deck of the lodge and laugh a lot.

This morning just about everyone (20-teams) was on the water by about 6:00 a.m. and giving it their best shot at fame and fortune. In my case alone I had six family members tossing baits and a few guys from The Red Brush Gang (our deer camp).

Jeff and I explored this beautiful piece of water for, I may have taken a short nap, which I was verbally abused for and about midday we started tying up to our friends boats, floating and having a social hour or two. By 2ish we had only landed a small northern pike and we were conversing with my brother Mike and his partner, Chris Grinde, who had a goose egg for the day.

Neitzel had read something about dead sticking musky lures so I was vertical jigging a pink bucktail while we jaw jacked. All the sudden a monster from below whacked my lure and I caught about a ten-inch crappie, later I threw a cast and caught a large mouth bass that was honestly no more then 3-inches.

Shortly after that our armada grew to four boats and we all knew that this was probably one of the funnest parts of the weekend.

When I was in the guard, I drove a jammer, which is kind of like a fork lift. I was on a three-man team and we put bombs, missles and rockets on the A-10.

My boss was Tommy Gilbertson and one of our main bosses was Gary Jensen. Tommy and Gary have participated in this outing for much longer then Jeff and I, and have never won it. This afternoon Tommy G caught a 38.5-inch musky on a bucktail and though there was another half day to fish they were in the lead at the end of day one.

Something that is very unique about the Chippewa Flowage is the floating bogs that move wherever the wind takes them. There is one that is at least an acre in size that is close to blocking the bridge and the waterway underneath, on County CC.

At noon today, Gilbertson and Jensen sqeaked out a victory when they beat the team of Jay Kimberly and James Kimberly who landed a 37.5 inch fish and Mark Juedes and Ryan Ringelstetter who were close behind with a 37.25 inch musky.

Mark and Ryan took out a prop the day before and so third place helped keep the smile on their faces from two really fun days in a row.

Unless you have been in the military, it is hard to understand how close you can become with your former comrades and I am very happy that I was a six-year member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard!  Sunset