Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fishing Northern Wisconsin -- A Photo Essay

Fishing Northern Wisconsin -- A Photo Essay

Wherein your Intrepid Blogger, After Running and Hiding from Bad Weather in Northern Wisconsin to take Refuge with his In-Laws on Lake Otter Tail, Minnesota, Comes Back Triumphantly To Northern Wisconsin

Once I heard that the weather had turned from 39 degrees and windy with rain back to the balmy 64 degrees and partly cloudy we've come to expect from this part of the country, I beat a hasty retreat back to the Northern Wisconsin waters that I know so well.

The first morning back, I hit the St. Croix river below the Gordon dam -- a really pretty site and full of lots of river smallies. Additionally, the river is also full of St. Croix River Snakes, as the following picture can attest:

Snakes abound.

I have been working on a series of hand-made wooden bass bugs and they've proven to be very, very successful as they not only hooked and landed the pike above, but also a ton of bass (both large and smallmouth) and even large panfish.

Here's a big, fat sunfish that hit on a wooden feather minnow. I was using an 8.5 foot Heddon Pal I fiberglass fly rod with 4/5 weight line and a 4 pound tippet.

The daughter liked the balmy 75 degree weather and even took some time out to do a little fishing herself. Here she is fishing a #0 Marathon Spinner with a hand-tied #16 bucktail treble.

No fish is too small for the intrepid girl angler.

We spent some time fishing vintage gear (see my Father's Day post). Here I am casting a vintage Pflueger Supreme and True Temper rod. I was casting a jointed Paw Paw Pikie and a Heddon Zig Wag.

Bill Sonnett please take note: perfect casting form.

Liking the feel of this particular rig!

But even if the fishing wasn't great (not a lot of big fish, to be honest) there is always the gorgeous vista. This was how it looked when I first got to Northern Wisconsin:

40 degrees and rainy.

A week later, it was 75 and gorgeous. Go figure.

Our last night there, it was finally warm enough to try some night trolling for walleyes. After a week of bad weather, the walleyes were hitting. The daughter and her Uncle Marc got into some nice fish! Here's a pic from the next morning:

Fantastic walleyes--the only fish we ever keep.

There's an addendum to this little photo essay. We were traveling through a very small town in Northern Wisconsin when I spied this site out front of a tattered building:

The outboard graveyard: where old motors go to die.

What are the chances the barn inside is filled with old fishing tackle? Pretty good, as it turns out. Not a lot of great stuff but some nice baits, but after digging around a few minutes I spy something truly exciting. A rod butt that I've seen many times before, because it's on the cover of a book I've published by Mary Kefover Kelly:

What are the odds of finding an 1850s Porter General Rod in the middle of the north woods? Especially since almost no Europeans were living in the region at the time. This rod HAD to have come from out East. I pull it down; it's complete, and moreover, has a beautiful Abbey & Imbrie brass fly reel on it (the reel is pictured in the 1884 catalog so it is later than the rod). Wow. I can't pay for it fast enough.

A Porter General rod, in from the wild.

Sometimes you just get lucky.

To celebrate this momentous occasion (my second pre-Civil War fishing rod), we stop off at my favorite place up the highway in the entire part of the state: Club Northern in Minong, Wisconsin. Best pizza around, trust me. I am a pizza maniac and this beats Pogo's hands down for best Northern Wisconsin pizza. Plus they have a killer fish fry on Friday nights, and friendly waitresses with names like Cricket.

A Porter General rod, in from the wild.

So my fishing trip is over, but I have some great memories, and a wonderful old fishing rod to boot. All in all, not a bad trip! Even if the weather forced me to run away like a big chicken, I returned triumphantly.

-- Dr. Todd

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