February 02, 2017

Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine February 2017

 One of my garden spiders made the Reader's Write.


 Upon looking closer I have another photo in the insert on page 11

February 01, 2017


The sun has set on this rural Wisconsin day.

Do you reminisce about the day past?

Do you think about what tomorrow brings?

Life is long.

Enjoy every moment.

Don't dwell on what could have been or what should have been.


“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow!"


January 30, 2017

The Bull Rush

I typically throw up stream and retrieve downstream.  My speed of retrieve varies on the seasons.  I even stop and start on occasions.  I sometimes let the spinner drop for a full two seconds.  I seldom throw downstream and retrieve.  Sometimes I cross current retrieve.

I throw upstream purposely because trout typically face upstream looking for their next meal.  Current brings them their meals.  The biggest alpha trout in the run will have the first position to assess the food coming to them.  They sometimes don’t see the offering but feel the spinner or stick bait going through their territory with their lateral lines.  This can be from a poor ill placed cast or the big dog being tucked under cover and the retrieve sounded its dinner bell.

I watched my friend John Armstrong try to catch up with a trout pulling a bull rush on him.  He stripped his fly rod like a master but was not able to catch up with the bull.  It dropped it shortly there after.

This type of aggression by a trout gives you special tactical problems.  Many times the poor cast is caused by a tight quarters cast into a snaggy mess. You need to prepare yourself before the cast.  You need to be two steps ahead of the hog that just chased your spinner downstream.

This situation presents you with a real problem.  If the big dog hits facing upstream the hook set is much easier.  There is an automatic resistance and the hook penetration is much easier.  The bull rush hit is the hardest to land.

You need to train yourself to snap up on a hook set.  Don’t be passive and let the reeling in set the hook.  If that big hog is running straight at you the lack of a good hook set it can be a bad dream that evening as you see that HUGE trout motor downstream and wave at you as it spits the hook.

I have had it happen four times in my life.  Every time the trout was enormous and I was left slack jawed and scratching my head on what I did wrong. One time it was a countdown rapala and I watched the big male swim past me downstream with the lure crosswise in it mouth.  I reeled for all I was worth and could not catch up with the bull rushing monster.  By the time I caught up with the lure the fish had decided it was not real food and dropped it.

I had this same scenario happen recently.  I cast into a log jam root system.  I was wedged between a couple of smaller saplings.  The cast was not good. It was an underhand pendulum cast.  I did not make it to the sweet spot I wanted.  The lay was just too fishy to not try the cast.

All of a sudden I saw my line screaming downstream.  I did not feel a hit.  I was stunned and unprepared.  I attempted a hook set but there was too much slack in the line.  I reeled for all I was worth but I couldn’t catch up to the bull rushing monster. I watched the dark spotted 26-27 inch fat female brown pass me by downstream and then my line went limp. She dropped my panther martin. I swore audibly and sat down.

I try to solve fishing problems while they are fresh in my memory.  What could I have done differently?  I cursed myself for not being more aggressive when I saw the first movement of the line.  I am not sure if that would have helped.  I thought maybe a shorter rod would have been easier to set while standing on my head basically to cast.  My retrieve ratio of my reel was good but not good enough to catch up with the speeding monster.

I decided a rematch is in order in the near future.  Big trout are very territorial and will stay in a good lay due to the cover it allows.  Just before I left I bent over the two saplings that I had been wedged in between and made sure they were down and out of the way. I broke off some over hanging limps to make the area more hook set friendly.  As I left I took a mental picture of the big female’s home so it would be easier to locate on a return trip.  I took the above photo also.  I was on the left bank right in the mess. I am planning the next dance in a couple weeks.



Every story has a beginning and an end.  I will start at the beginning for you.  Throughout my entire life I have been attached to the outdoors.  The outdoors is what fixed me when I had an ailment.  Every major life event of mine had some type of outdoor component to it before or afterwards.

I gave up hunting about fifteen years ago.  My wife and daughter do not eat venison or any outdoor related hunting quarry so I decided to give it up.  I am not a horn hunter and I am a firm believer in eating what I shoot.  Fishing took the forefront of my outdoor adventures from then on.

On any given day fifteen years ago you could find me in the trout stream or at the dam in Gays Mills chasing walleye and pike.  I was out there about five days a week at least.  Fishing was my anchor and it made me feel at one with nature.

“A few years back I made a comment to an acquaintance about trout fishing being so important to me, and he dismissed it. He said trout fishing was the least important thing he does in life and I shouldn’t make it so important. I wholeheartedly disagree with him. Many people go to church to feel spiritual and be in touch with the universe. I go into the outdoors to cleanse my soul. All the things in life that bother me are melted away about a hundred yards from the truck. The fish are only a bonus in the whole scheme of things.” Note I said acquaintance and not friend.  I disagreed with this angler and we no longer fish together or even converse. 

All of my outdoor adventures mixed in with work mishaps took their toll on my body. I remember vividly my first work mishap that restricted my outdoor adventures.  I was in law enforcement for thirty years.  One of my partners tried to arrest a guy and he ran.  I encountered the guy at the top of a flight of stairs.  I tried to arrest him.  To make a long story short it ended with me arresting the guy at the bottom of the stairs and my left knee was screaming in pain.  A little light duty and I was off the streams for an extended time and the knee felt better.  That time off the stream nearly drove me crazy.  Fishing from the recliner was not my cup of tea.

My left knee never recovered 100 percent.  Usually by the end of trout season I was dragging it behind me.  The closed season allowed it to rehab enough to begin the season again.  This cycle went on for 6 years.  My knee was getting gradually worse each year. 

 Then it happened.  My friend had a giant trout on and I was the net man.  Adrenaline caused me to be a little careless when I saw the huge trout he had on and I hurried in the water to net it.  I did the netting just fine but getting out of the water was hard.  I had wrenched my knee and it was swelling up immediately.

Ten trips to specialist later and I was scheduled for micro-fracture surgery on my left knee.  With surgery and rehab it erased a year of fishing for me.  I was the grouchiest I ever was during that time.  My wife must be a saint to have tolerated me. I felt like a boat with no anchor.  I felt adrift and not in control of my life. 

After all my physical therapy my PT specialist told me I should go back to see my primary doctor because I was not making progress.  Fast forward 2 months and a left knee replacement it was May of 2015.  No fishing for me but my PT was going well and my therapist oked me to go fishing.  My wife vetoed trout fishing and accompanied me while I went fishing for pike and walleye at the local dam.  It was only 15 steps from the vehicle.

It was September and my wife liked my progress and said she was ok with me going for trout.  I decided that we had a vacation planned near the end of the month and I was not going to be gimpy for it. I told her if vacation went well I would trout fish when we got back.

We got back from vacation and I was biting at the bit to get out there and fish.  My wife told me to pick a place close to the road.  She said I should find a place close enough to the road to crawl to the road in case I hurt myself.  I smiled and thought she was being over cautious and actually listened to her and planned my fishing place accordingly for the next day.

I was hyper vigilant walking on stream.  I was babying my new left artificial left knee. The fishing was grand.  I had been without for such a long time.  It made me savor the outing even more.  I can remember me thinking to myself how sad I would be if I was never able to trout fish again.  The outdoors gave my life direction and without it I would be adrift in life. I decided to not over do and anger my new knee and cut the outing short.

I made an immediate left and headed towards the road.  The road was 30 yards away.  The next thing you knew it I found a deep hole when walking out.  My right leg went down in the hole hard and I caught myself as I fell and snapped my rod in half.  I assessed my other knee and it seemed like the artificial one was good to go. I couldn’t say the same for my good knee.  It was swelling up as I examined it.

I sped up my gimpy exit to the road. The weeds were tall and red thorn bushes were everywhere. The next thing you know I was upside down and entangled in an old abandoned barbed wire fence. I couldn’t move either of my legs.  I had pain in my left shin and in my right thigh and groin.  The fence was a four stander when it was made but the 2 top strands were broken away from the fence post. My left ankle was between the 2 remaining strands and locked in place by my body weight over the 2 remaining strands angled up and right to the next fence post.

I tried to free myself and failed.  That left leg was stuck and the right one was wrapped in barb wire and pointed upward.  My waders were torn on both legs and in the crotch.  I could feel what I thought was wetness in each wader leg. I was certain it was blood. I finally reached back and yanked my right leg free.  Talk about a lot of pain. My right side of my groin was on fire. The fence had done some damage,  I finally made it to the vehicle.

I went to the emergency room immediately. I had a few sutures here and there and there and I was not bleeding any longer. My right knee was so swollen they made me wait until the swelling went down to examine it a couple days later. A month and a half later I had my right knee scoped.

I fished very limited time in early 2016 and got back on the water enough to pacify me near the end of the season.  I was never alone on stream in 2016 by orders of my loving wife.  2017 is a new season and here I come.  No end in sight.

2017 was a decent year.  My knees were slowly getting a little better.  My wife had me promise to take someone with me fishing from now on. 2018 just started and the trout are eager and so am I.  My mishap with the fence caused me to have another surgery.  I will leave that procedure a mystery.  I am back on the streams now but not solo and considerably more careful these days.

Keeping An Eye On You

January 29, 2017

Fishing Follies

Through the years I have witnessed and had some strange things happen to me and my fishing partners.  Some I laugh at and others I cringe as I recall them.

It was May 1996 and I was planning my only trip in my life to Canada to chase the giant pike and abundant walleye.  One of my trip requirements was a heavy duty pike rod and reel.  I had done the research and I thought a baitcaster was what I wanted.  Off I went to Cabelas.

I dropped 400 dollars on a Plueger bait caster rod and reel set up.  Then I bought another 30 giant lures with the delusion of landing giant pike in Ignace Ontario. The lures were not cheap.  I had some braided super line put on the reel.

I took the long way home and went by the Lynxville Lock and Dam on the Mississippi.  The draw to the water was just too strong.  I got out and hooked on a Magnum Rapala.  I took the long walk down to the water and walked way out on the pier.

I was bashful at first with the new bait caster.  I didn't want a birds net.  I made short casts and did not put much force in the casts at first because I was truly afraid of this huge rig with the giant deep diving stick bait with three huge treble hooks.

On the fourth short wimpy cast  I hooked up on something massive.  It ran around in the lock area for 30 minutes.  I couldn't control the fish. It ran off 50 yards of line in one run. I tightened the drag to slow it down and tire it out. I was drawing quite a crowd of onlookers.  One car saw me battling the fish while driving by and parked and ran down with a giant net.  I had 2 boats anchor and watch me.

I finally made some headway on the fish and got it somewhat under control.  I literally had a cheering section by then.  They were shouting directions and hooting and acting crazy. The guy with the huge net said he needed to go to work and if I wanted him to net whatever was on the line I needed to put some pressure on the fish.

All of sudden it just quit fighting and came to the surface.  My fishing gallery let out a collective sigh and then I heard a few "wows" even. This thing was at least five feet long and looked prehistoric.  It had a long snout.  There was no way it was going to fit in the net.  There was no way I was going to pull this giant fish up over the end of the pier. One of the guys in the boat said it was a "Paddle Fish" and a huge one.


Thanks Wikipedia for the use of the photo.
The second boat came up along side us and unhooked the paddle fish.  He told me it was illegal to keep because it was protected.  I had no plans to keep it anyway.  I was down there fishing on a lark and had no net....no needle nose and no camera.  I let it go after it revived without a picture.

I got a couple high fives.  The whole crowd dispersed and I sat alone there collecting myself.  My arm was actually noodle like and very tired from battling the crazy looking fish for 45 minutes.

I had only done four cast with my new rig and I thought that it was not adequate to test it for a Canada trip.  I thought I needed to throw a few more to get the feel of the expensive rig before I drug it all the way to Canada.

The first couple casts went well.  I decided I wanted to let a long one fly.  I would need to cover a lot of distance up there in the giant lakes so I really put my back into the cast.  I wound up and let it fly.

I was over confident because of the paddle fish thang and didn't heed warnings about the bird nets folks that were inexperienced usually had.

The giant deep diver magnum rapala went sailing out about five feet and then the unthinkable happened.  It bird nested. The force of the cast and the non-stretch super line caused the lure to come screaming back at me faster then I had thrown it out.

I put my left arm up instinctively to block the giant lure coming screaming back at me at Mach 12.  I stood there in disbelief at what had happened.

I looked at my left wrist and hand.  I had all three of the magnum rapala's trebles buried in my hand and wrist.  It didn't hurt as much as you would think.  I quickly went back to the truck and looked at the injuries.

Two of the three trebles were in the skin just superficially.  The third was all the way through the meat of the bottom of my left hand. I cut the 50 pound test line and drove back to Prairie Du Chien to the urgent care with the three trebles still in my wrist and hand.

The doctor got me in immediately.  I told him the tale as he numbed up my hand and wrist.  He pulled all of the trebles all the way through the wrist and hand and snipped off the points.  He gave me a tetanus shot and wrapped the hand and wrist.

I gathered up all the lures and rod and reel and took them back to Cabelas right after I left the hospital.  Cabelas would not take back the one lure because it had been used to catch such a fool and the trebles were damaged.