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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 9-30-2015

by Mark Walters

Wild Times on the Flambeau River 

Hello friends,

I have only been home from the adventure that you are about to read about for about 8 hours and I am still rather beat up!

About five years ago I told my good buddy Joe Flater (Flaters Resort/Musky Joe) that I wanted to fish for sturgeon with him on either the Flambeau or Chippewa Rivers. Joe did not want to but in the end gave in and we kicked butt, including a 54-inch sturgeon and a 42 and 40-inch musky.

The following year I tried this incredibly fun sport out of my canoe and though I did not crack 50-inches, I caught several sturgeon in the 30 to 48 inch range that pulled my canoe up and down the Flambeau River.

This week I returned to the Flambeau for a brief but challenging experience in my canoe participating in a sport that I really need to do annually.

Wednesday, September 23rd
High 78, low 55

So here is the story in the story, I, Mark Walters, fully admit that I am over scheduled. I have ZERO unscheduled time anymore. The End! Anyways, on my way to Ladysmith I run my bear baits, they are hit, all nocturnal bears (seems to be a statewide issue).

I am pushing the sun clock, which I live by to the limit as I head up Highway 27 with a canoe on my truck and ten dozen night crawlers in my cooler.

Here is my master/foolproof plan! Paddle to sturgeon paradise where I will fish until dark. I checked the hourly forecast on my computer for Ladysmith. There is zero percent chance of rain after 10:00 p.m. I do not have a tent. I will sleep peacefully on a reclining lawn chair on the shores of the Flambeau and be one with nature. I do not have a smart phone or a radio.

Back to that sun clock. After unloading my sleeping bags, lawn chair and golden retriever at a super secret spot I head out to the river where I have two hours of daylight left to catch a 60-inch (the minimum length for keeping) sturgeon. In reality I have no desire to keep a sturgeon, as I do not want to kill one.

What do I want out of this deal! Like a few years back I want to be The Old Man in the Sea or the movie Jaws. Hook onto a dinosaur, pull my canoe around for a while and then figure out how to land, photograph and release a true trophy.

Long story short. I did not hook onto a sturgeon tonight. So now it is dark! I am laying in two sleeping bags on a reclining lawn chair with a very used tarp for a blanket to prevent the dew from soaking through. I am looking at the sky and thinking, finally, I am going to sleep for at least six-hours when all of the sudden moisture hits my face. Within seconds what would be an inch of rainfall is coming out of the sky, my tarp prevented nothing from coming in and was like a total sauna. It took about two hours for both of bags to be totally soaked and though I never got cold. It was a night from H E double toothpicks.

Thursday, September 24th
High 76, low 53

In the middle of the night my buddy KAMO Secretary and Indianhead Chapter member, Jim Kurz calls me up and says to paddle to my truck and drive to his house. I stayed in paradise and this morning Jim Kurz, who has paddled a canoe many more miles then I have, meets me on the river where I am anchored. Jim tells me my luck is going to change as we hold an unofficial Kids And Mentors Outdoors meeting from two canoes.

Just like that, I get a hard hit and then the fight is on. I pull anchor, Jim enjoys the comedy act from his canoe and now my Old Man in the Sea/Jaws fantasy is coming true.

My sturgeon was not a huge fish, but it was fun to catch and a major stress reducer. She or he was 42-inches and safely released. What was really crazy was over the next three hours I caught four more and was sure that I might pop 50-inches.

About 11:00 a.m. just like a switch was hit the fish quit biting and that part of this adventure was over. I ended this experience over a bear bait on the Chippewa River and listened to hundreds of acorns hit the ground and later in Flater’s very fun pub (why was I the only one with face paint on) had several hunters tell me “no baits getting hit, too many acorns”.

Five hours after writing this column I will be on my 13th night in a tree hoping a bear comes by.

Perhaps a new tarp is a good idea!  Sunset