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’s column has way more to write about than I have space, so here it goes. Ashland, Lake Superior, Chequamegon Bay and ice fishing/winter camping along with two buddies that are all pushing 60 that have known each other since the early 70’s.
Friday, March 12th
High 42, Low 23
My Polaris “Classic” pulling three heavily loaded sleds and carrying two full grown men with Ruby running alongside for a couple of miles.
Two round trips and that part of the job is done. While much of the state is looking at open water, Chequamegon Bay still had trucks on it and 24-inches of ice.
We each put out tip ups and began building camp. Then it was time to jig for whatever was hungry using spoons and wax worms or minnow heads. A flag goes up, after a great fight, I ice a 7-pound brown and we are all ecstatic. Jigging lands us several small perch and smelt, by dark we have three gators in the 28-inch range along with the brown.
Saturday, March 13th
High 61, Low 28
Today was a unique day for all three of us. We caught splake, browns, gators, smelt, tons of 3-7 inch perch and a sunburn while watching full sized pickups cruise the ice. We fi shed hard the entire day and really never quit jigging until dark and though I am a rookie to this water, here is my prediction.
There is an explosion of perch, the bite is nonstop, but for the most part they are too small to keep. I am guessing that in two years Ashland may have the best perch fishing in the state.
Then there is the northern pike population. Everything we caught or heard about was 25 to 30 inches and they are plentiful. I am predicting that in a couple of years there will be incredible fishing here for 30-to-35-inch gators.
We have bets for gator, splake, browns, coho, perch and walleye and the walleye and coho are not hungry for our live bait. Early in our day I watched my buddy Moll almost catch a splake in the 21-inch range. I caught one just over 20 and that was a tough pill for the “old fart” to swallow. On the last day he beat me by a ¼ inch and that was even tougher.
Sunday, March 14th
High 27, Low 13
We have experienced a complete change in the weather. The wind switched to the northeast and is pretty rough on a person outside of the shed and the high was 34 degrees, colder than yesterday’s high.
On the bright side of the coin, since the ice was going to last, we decided to stay another day.
Late last night my 60-day old Mr. Heater had something go wrong, I am not blaming the company, and the next thing you know our plastic table in the shack is burning up as well as the Mr. Heater. This was while we were asleep. No one died but the heater and the table, but much bad air was inhaled.
Mr. Cibluka has been quietly sucking at catching fish on this trip but today he woke from the dead and went on a tear catching numerous fish such as browns, splake and gators and our fish poundage is adding up.
Tonight, we did not have a heater but two propane lanterns did the job and we worked hard at the job called fishing until 4:00 a.m. On Monday we experienced our best fish catching yet and broke camp, worked the sled and drove home in really tough conditions as two inches of very wet snow made for greasy roads while doing much of the drive in the dark.
Doug Cibulka did this crazy stuff with me two weeks in a row and let me know that even though he had a blast, he would not want to do it for a living.
I am a bit run down but will soon be somewhere in the great outdoors living on the edge!
Check out previous weeks’ columns at: www.outdoorsmansjournal.com