Mark Walters, Contributor
Follow along each week on the adventures of Mark Walters, a syndicated outdoor adventure columnist who lives in Necedah, Wisconsin. He began writing his column, An Outdoorsman’s Journal, in 1989. It includes hunting, fishing, lots of canoeing and backpacking. He currently writes for around 60 newspapers on a weekly basis. He hopes you enjoy reading about his adventures!
This week I am writing to you about an annual trip to Sawyer County, where I ice fish and generally have a blast with six friends. Before I go any further I would like to thank Ken and Cheryl Olson, who have opened up their summer home to us for at least 15-years for this annual expedition.
Ken Olson recently passed away and Ken was a man that was respected by everyone that knew him and for many of the guys I am about to write about was the leader of their deer camp, a leader in the Birchwood area, and far beyond.
Friday, January 8th
High 31, Low 22
This is one of those stories that had a lot happen so I will have to be vague to get it into the space that I have. My stepson Joey Dushek and I drive up from Necedah. Ryan Ransom takes the same roads and is from Black River Falls. Paul Bucher comes from an hour west, Cumberland and Ron Wesoloski and Preston Johnson both live in Rice Lake. Chris Schiefelbein rounds out our crew and lives on the lake we would be fishing.
A lot of these guys grew up together in Black River Falls so this was a party, I mean this fishing trip is like a class reunion and it sounds like they had a lot of fun growing up.
Chris Schiefelbein was playing it COVID-safe, so he spent the weekend fishing out the door of his Chevy pickup and 100-percent jamming out to classic rock while catching fish.
Ron Wesoloski is with the Eskimo and Bucher’s shanty on wheels had an incredibly nice pop up shack for us to fish in. This shack is one of their newer models and is big, light, and very easy to set up.
Five of us hung out in it Friday night while fishing crappie and I even had a table set up to cook chicken, venison steak, and fried potatoes.
During the day Friday we fished out of the shacks and had really good luck on 9-11 inch perch. Tonight it was 9-11 inch crappie with a couple close to a foot, so how the heck can that not be fun?
Chris had a good friend that put up a permanent shack next to ours that he wanted me to meet, and tonight I spent some time in the shack that Cody Rurup built and was fishing in with his 5-year-old son Brody and 3-year-old Cole. This sleeper shack was as intelligently built as any I have ever seen and spending time with Cody and his sons reminded me of twenty years ago when I had Kevin, Travis, and Joey on the ice with their sister Selina.
We fished hard until after midnight and also laughed very hard.
Saturday, January 9th
High 30, Low 24
I might make it sound like we are a bunch of clowns but these guys are the best fishermen that I spend time with in a year’s time. They are technological, have a go-for-it attitude and fish a lot.
Today we spent the day chasing perch and it was a full and very good day. We literally did not take the time for any form of lunch break, what we did was fish and fish hard. At dark we headed back to Paul’s shack and, though the crappie action was slow, it was steady and they were big. Paul Bucher has the Saturday night meal each year and he cooked brats from Louie’s Finer Meats out of Cumberland. People from all over the planet are aware when I say this, get your meat from Louie’s, it is incredible and about midnight brats and beans kept us on the ice until after 2:00.
Here are a couple of hot tips: “Demons” are an ice fishing jig that if you only have one jig in your box it should be a Demon. Beaver tail is the other tip, Joey has been trapping beaver and using pieces of the tail to put a hurting on the panfish this winter.
Back to Ken Olson, our good friend who passed away this fall, if every American was half as wise and good as Ken was, this country would not have near the problems it currently has.
My guess is we will all be back in a year and we will cook, laugh and probably even catch fish!
Check out previous weeks’ columns at: www.outdoorsmansjournal.com