Get on board: Fish Wisconsin

Spring Cleaning: Gear Edition!

Winter has released its icy grip on Wisconsin’s lakes and streams and now it’s time to make plans for the open-water fishing season.

Get ready for the season by tuning up your gear, beginning with the reel. Here are some tips for untangling a mess inside a typical spincasting reel:

  1. Remove the outer cap of the reel: You should see an inner cap. A pull-and-turn motion is the best method for this. They can be really tight when new.
  2. Grasp the reel handle securely and turn the inner cap of the reel counterclockwise until the inner cap is removed.
  3. You should now be staring at the tangle. Untangle the line. You may need to strip off several feet to get past the trouble spot.
  4. Leave a few inches of line free and replace the inner cap of the reel by holding the reel handle securely as you turn the inner cap clockwise.
  5. Thread the untangled line through the top of the outer cap.
  6. Replace the outer cap of the reel. Test your repair efforts. Take some time to clean up your spinning reel, too. Remove the top and wipe down the inside. Grease the inside of the reel and the stem of the handle, and oil inside the reel from the handle access point. A degreaser like WD 40 is good to clean the outside of a reel but it will eat monofilament line, so be sure to wash it off. Clean grit from the reel by holding it under a faucet and allowing water to gently wash over the reel. Wipe down the rod with a damp cloth.

Hook It Up!

Secure your hook on the hook keeper near where the reel attaches to the rod. If your rod doesn’t have a hook keeper, secure the hook to the leg of the guide rather than the eye. Nicking the eye is rough on line.

Get Outside: Good Spots For Catfish

After your spring cleaning is done, it’s time to scope out your hot spot for landing your first fish of spring. How about catfish?

Yellowstone and Wyalusing state parks, Big Green Lake and any place along the Mississippi River are just a few of the many places to try for catfish. Find more options on where to wet a line for catfish here. Tip: Catfish hang out near the bottom of the water over woody cover or weed beds.

Gear and Bait

You’ll need a sturdy (medium to heavy) rod and reel, 14-pound line and a big landing net. Add a float on a weight above a slip-sinker and bait a jig head with worms, minnows or “stink bait.” Whip up a tasty stink bait to tickle their scent-seeking whiskers. Ideas for stink bait include a paste of any of the following: cornmeal, chicken liver, garlic, cheddar cheese, oatmeal or tuna.

Today’s Special: Alfredo Catfish

Did you make a haul this winter fishing for catfish? Then it’s time to fish the freezer to make room for the open water season’s catch.

This recipe was submitted by James Bobb of Cornell, Wisconsin for the DNR’s cookbook, Healthy Dishes With Wisconsin Fishes. Mr. Bobb used fresh-caught fish, but you can use those filets you put away in your freezer. Just let them thaw in your fridge before you get started.

Serves: 3-4
• 3 skinned catfish fillets, preferably channel catfish (18-25”)
• Milk
• Lemon pepper
• 1 yellow onion, sliced
• 1 green pepper, sliced
• 4 tablespoons butter
• 4 cups of your favorite Alfredo sauce (or use the recipe that follows the catfish cooking steps)
• Salt and pepper to taste

Fillet catfish and remove blood line.
Marinate fillets in milk for 8-10 hours.
Remove fillets from milk but leave moist and shake on lemon pepper. Put onions and pepper into a saucepan with butter and cook for 20 minutes.
Add fillets to onion and peppers and cook on medium for 15-20 minutes (will vary according to thickness of fillet).
Add Alfredo sauce and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes (until sauce is hot). Salt and pepper to taste.

Recommended side dishes: Creamy coleslaw, baked beans.

Alfredo Sauce
Warm in a frying pan:
½ cup butter (1 stick)
1½ cups heavy cream

Add the following and whisk for 1 minute:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Whisk in: 2 cups grated Parmesan

Add: ¼ cup fresh parsley