I always look forward to the first week of August. Squirrel season begins and it is our family vacation week. For the last thirteen years we have spent our family vacation at Birch Lakes Resort and Fred Thomas Resort in Birchwood, WI. We have had so many great memories on Big Birch and Chetac Lake in Wisconsin, but it is time to change things up for a couple of years.
Our daughter Payton Pierce and her husband have just recently purchased a small hobby farm in Weyauwega, WI. I am so happy for them on their very first home purchase. Of course, momma Leah and sister Ella wanted nothing more than to go spend a week with Payton and Ace in their new home.
Before we could head to Wisconsin, we had some friends invite us to the Cubs/Cardinals came in St. Louis. We haven’t been to a game in several years, so I jumped at the opportunity. We headed down the came on Saturday afternoon and as soon as we arrived the heavens opened up. We decided to go ahead and get in the stadium and were hoping the rain would subside. Unfortunately, it was still raining and 7:30 and we had to make a decision. We were heading to Wisconsin first thing in the morning, and I didn’t want to get home at 4:00am and then turn around and load and head to Wisconsin by 9:00am. We finally made the decision to leave and head home. Of course, as we hit the road, I decided to turn on the radio and of course the game started a little after 8pm. We could have watched the game and made it home, but it was too late now. We listened to the game on the way home and the game finished as we entered our driveway. Maybe I can take them to Chicago this fall to see a game.
Sunday morning arrived, we loaded the truck and boat, and headed to the great state of Wisconsin. I don’t think I could live there year-round but I love the summer weather in Wisconsin. It seems to always be 80 degrees and low humidity. We arrived at Payton’s at 2pm on Sunday and unloaded the truck and boat before Payton gave us the grand tour. You could see the excitement in her face that we were there. Not sure who was happier, her or us.
The first thing I went for was the chicken coop. I have been around chickens since I was a young kid and I enjoy watching them roam the yard, and most of all, I like to collect fresh eggs. Their place was perfect for them. Several acres with timber, a nice meadow, a creek, and an abundance of berries. I was excited to see all of the blackberries and black raspberries bushes covering the property. Many people see this as a nuisance I see it as pies, jelly, and jam.
I spent most of the afternoon talking with Payton and Ace and researching the local lakes in the area. There was no shortage. Just 20 minutes north of their house was the Chain of Lakes, Lake Poygan, Lake Winneconne, Lake Winnebago and so many more. Payton had taken off work on Monday and Friday, so she wanted to spend her days off on the water.
On Monday we decided to head to Lake Poygan and take a trip to Lake Winneconne and if that didn’t work, we would continue our journey down to Lake Winnebago. There were many lakes that are part of a river system and you can go lake to lake pretty easily. We were going to try and find some crappies and do a little swimming as well. One thing I thought was an error was that Lake Poygan had a max depth of eleven feet. I couldn’t understand how a 14,000 acre lake deepest spot would be eleven feet. We found a boat ramp and immediately noticed the water was only two feet deep on the ramp. I should have taken that as a sign but I didn’t. We finally got the boat off the trailer and as we headed towards the middle of the lake, we couldn’t find any fish and the max depth I was finding in the middle was four feet. I knew there weren’t going to be many fish in this lake.
Since fishing wasn’t working, we decided to stop the boat and take a swim. The whole bottom of this lake was sand. You could see all the way to the bottom. We swam and hung out for a couple of hours and then decided to head to Lake Winneconne to see if we could find some fish. We actually did find a few schools, but we never had a bite in two hours.
I knew Payton wanted to catch some fish, so I did some research, called some bait shops and I even went to the fishing section at Farm and Fleet to talk to the locals. I found out some great information and decided we were prepared to catch some perch and crappie on Lake Winnebago on Tuesday. With Payton working it was just Leah, Ace and myself going fishing. We got up on Tuesday, stopped by the bait shop and headed to the lake. When we arrived, we could see a group of 20-30 boats in a particular area. I decided that is where we would start.
I reset all of our poles to be bottom bouncers and left a couple of others set for crappie. We had minnows, dew worms and red worms. We would throw the kitchen sink at them. After an hour of fishing, we saw no one catching anything. I was marking plenty of fish on my sonar but couldn’t get them to bite at all. We were a few hours in when Leah hooked into something pretty big. I thought she must have a big walleye on but as it broke the surface, I saw it was a sheep head. I thought to myself if I was going to catch sheep head I could have stayed home and fished the Illinois River. We tried shallow, deep, reefs and everything in between and the only we had to show for it was a sheep head, a four-inch smallmouth, and six inch walleye. The sun was beating us up pretty good, so we decided to put our tails between our legs and headed back to Payton’s house.
As much as I wanted to keep fishing, everyone was burnt except me, and everyone needed a day off on Wednesday. We just hung around the farm. I picked some blackberries and made a pie. I went to Farm and Fleet to get some hummingbird feeders, and Payton and Ace took us to one of their favorite restaurants. I was a nice relaxing day.
This was the first time being in Wisconsin where I just couldn’t seem to catch fish. Leah and I were determined to figure it out. We decided to head back to Winnebago on Thursday to see if we could change our luck. We got up a little earlier than the first few days and we headed straight to the lake. Once again, we saw groups of boats, so we headed to try a new location and we saw some boats. This may have been a mistake. We saw some fish, so I pushed spot lock on the trolling motor and we sat there and watched a couple catch their limit of perch. As they left, I pulled right on their spot, and guess what? We never caught a fish. To say I was frustrated was an understatement. I decided to try some drifting. I didn’t see one boat doing this but everything else had failed so why not give it a shot.
Ten minutes into our drift Leah has a good fish on. It was giving her quite the fight when I saw it swirl on the top of the water. It was a nice smallmouth. She has never caught a smallmouth, so it was exciting to see her catch her first one. It was long after that she hooked up again with another smallmouth but quite a bit smaller. I thought we had figured it out but over the next couple of hours we caught one keeper walleye. All in all, these lakes kicked my butt. At least my wife caught her first smallmouth and walleye.
After spending another evening trying to figure out where to go to catch some crappie. I noticed that most of the crappies seem to be caught on the Wolf River which is between a couple of lakes. We decided to head there on Friday to see if we could change our luck. We arrived at the ramp on Friday morning and started our journey. This river wasn’t even 100 yards wide and for some reason the river is only no wake on weekends and holidays. With the giant cruiser flying down this river and coming 15 to 20 feet from your boat it was an adventure. I have a Lund 1875 and there were a couple of times I thought the boars were going to swamp up. I have never seen more inconsiderate boaters in my life. Once again, we could see fish on the sonar, but the problem is the wakes were coming in three to four feet high and it was like riding a roller coaster all day. After a couple of hours of this the jet skis started coming out and it just was almost impossible to fish. So, after attempting to fish for three to four hours it was time to admit defeat. On Friday we had four people fishing and not one bite all day. I just have to admit these lakes got the best of me. With Payton living there I still have to figure these lakes out. I will get the last laugh. Well, hopefully.
After we returned home to reality, it was time to get back to work on the magazine and continue working on the hunting grounds. Since buying the property there are a couple of things that must be done. The food plots are done and planted so it was onto the next. I really wanted to start cleaning off our ditch from all of the autumn olives and honeysuckle. Over the last ten years the ditch has been taken over by invasive species. Our good friend Zach Kline has a good friend Josh Dorr with Wolf Creek Excavating. Zach set up a meeting with us and Josh to go over the property to discuss how to go about eliminating the invasives off the ditch. Josh has been great to work with, he provided us with an estimate and then we came to agreement we would do this all over the next few years which he was totally ok with.
As you can see in the attached photos the amount of work, he can do with his machine compared to the years it would take us to do it ourselves. If you ever need someone to clear some areas for you, I would give Josh Dorr a call at Wolf Creek Excavating LLC.
Until next month. May your sunrises and sunsets be magical!