Fishing trip to Minnesota proves fruitfulFor four days in late May, I, along with three friends who I had previously worked with, got together to fish, tell lies, act smart and rehash memories from our days when we were gainfully employed.
By: Mike Reiter, New Richmond News
For four days in late May, I, along with three friends who I had previously worked with, got together to fish, tell lies, act smart and rehash memories from our days when we were gainfully employed.
We even found time to partake in a few Leinie’s Originals after a hard day slaving over a hot fishing pole. Besides Chuck, Roy, Dave and I solving most of the world’s problems, we also found out that the guy who said “never discuss religion or politics” was wrong. No topic was off limits! What an enjoyable experience.
The foray began with a three-hour drive up to a northern Minnesota lake which will remain nameless because we actually caught fish. It is a medium-sized lake with large areas of shallow, sandy shelves that extend out for hundreds of yards.
Chuck, our host for the trip, has a very nice house located on the lake. We fished the drop offs and caught northern, perch and a few walleyes. We filleted out the fish taking care to also remove the “Y” bones found in the northern. Fresh fish directly from the water to the frying pan produces an incomparable cuisine. The northern was as tasty as the walleye and perch.
Among the many high points of our trip, we were fortunate to observe a doe and her fawn swim the mile long width of the lake. It is amazing how fast the deer could move through the water doing the “dog paddle,” or should I say “deer paddle,” with only their heads above water. They must get tremendous thrust from their small hooves and legs. The deer shook like dogs when they reached the shore, spent a minute to catch their breath and were off to explore the other side of the lake.
We also saw a hen merganser with 23 chicks. She was quite the mom keeping what was probably hers and a sister’s brood together.
I purchased a nonresident annual license for $40.50 figuring I may make it over to Minnesota for angling opportunities a few more times this year. The nonresident annual Wisconsin fishing license is issued at $50, for comparative purposes.
Over the years, complaints have been voiced about complicated fishing and hunting regulations causing fishers and hunters to drop out of the outdoor sports. Blanket regulations are no longer applicable today because animal species are not distributed across the state equally. All lakes and streams are not created equally. Game species of all types are provided resource management that optimizes their existence in a very competitive world. The Department of Natural Resources does an excellent job with resource management contrary to what a few detractors might imply. Looking through the 2010 Minnesota fishing regulations, it is evident that Minnesota’s regulations are just as varied as those in Wisconsin.
On May 23, Sally and I had a unique opportunity to visit the Tiffany State Wildlife Area. It is located 45 minutes south of Eau Claire and 90 minutes north of La Crosse along the Chippewa River between Nelson and Durand, off State Highway 25.
The “Bottoms” was dedicated as a state wildlife area in 1958 and incorporates more than 3,500 acres. There is an abundance of natural flora and fauna and has something for everyone. Hunting is permitted through walk-in access and the backwaters of the Chippewa River provide a variety of fishing opportunities.
We observed a couple of turkey hunters walking out after a morning of hunting. A variety of animal tracks were evident along the sandy banks of the meandering river fingers. Flowering plants were everywhere and the birdlife was abundant.
We had heard about a tour of the area sponsored by the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis from a friend and contacted them. The Chippewa Valley Motor Car Association provides rail access into the area. This dedicated group of train enthusiasts has scheduled a dozen or so sponsored trips on small open air rail cars pulled by what we called “putt-putts” when we were kids. The “train” even provided restroom facilities in the form of a porta-potty carried along on a special car located at the rear of the train. We were the last trip scheduled this spring with a fall program starting again in September.
The motor car group was all volunteers who had special permission to use the abandoned tracks into the area and all the train components were owned by the group. The route covered a total of five miles and we were allowed several stops where the history of the area was described. We spent a total of six hours on and off the train enjoying the scenery and birding as we went. Talking with the motor car folks and meeting some of the others on the trip added greatly to the experience.
Check out the Tiffany Bottoms either as a walker or rail rider. You won’t be disappointed!
By Tom Kerr USF&WS
On May 21 I spent the day at the Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge helping with the Birding and Nature Festival. The three-day festival, centered at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland, is an event that attracted more than 300 people this year to enjoy the fantastic birding opportunities found in the Chequamegon Bay Area. The participants can chose from more than 110 programs during the three-day event, including topics as varied as birding basics, bats of northern Wisconsin and a guided kayak tour of the Fish Creek Estuary. All of these events highlight the tremendous wildlife value of the Chequamegon Bay Area.
During the three days, more than 180 species of birds were observed. Some of the highlights included a red-headed woodpecker and an American avocet. The avocet, which was spending time at the mouth of Whittlesey Creek, served as a great backdrop for a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate the Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge as an American Bird Conservancy Important Bird Area. Karen Graff from Sen. Feingold’s office attended the event to make a short presentation and help cut the ribbon with Rick Schultz, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s regional refuge chief. The designation recognizes the value of this coastal wetland and floodplain forest habitat for many species of birds. Hopefully, the IBA designation will also raise the public’s awareness of the importance of maintaining and protecting our natural resources. Nearly 230 species of birds, such as shorebirds, warblers, seabirds, waterfowl and wading birds, either call the refuge home or use it for food and shelter during fall and spring migration.
If you are interested in the Birding and Nature Festival check out the website at http://birdandnaturefest.com. Next year’s festival will be held from May 20-22, but don’t hesitate to visit the Refuge and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center before then to enjoy some of the programs and wild watching opportunities near Chequamegon Bay.
Warden Paul’s Corner
Every year, the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June is designated as Free Fishing Weekend throughout the State of Wisconsin. All the waters of the state are open, including state waters of the Great Lakes and rivers bordering Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (or trout or salmon stamps) over these two days. However, all other fishing regulations (length limits, bag limits, etc.) apply.
This event is designed to encourage families to get out and fish together on Wisconsin waters. People are encouraged to participate in special activities planned at parks throughout the state, and also to take advantage of programs at several state parks and at DNR regional offices that loan out fishing equipment.
Because children under the age of 16 do not need a fishing license to fish on any day of the year, the motto for Free Fishing Weekend could be, “Take a grown-up fishing!”
If you have any other questions, call Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120.