From the late 1970s until about six or seven years ago, Dave Isebrands and I headed down to river after supper two or three times a week through the month of May and nailed the walleyes on a regular basis. We fished from about 7:30 p.m. until dusk, and we fished from the bank. Occasionally we went on a Saturday morning and fished from first light until we had our limits. It didn't take very long.
On Jan. 20, my son-in-law Tom took me ice fishing on Wisconsin's Lake Petenwell. Over the holidays, he had taken a 28-inch walleye from Petenwell, and that no doubt motivated our return. Petenwell, a Wisconsin River impoundment, is more than 30 miles long. Even though we arrived before sunup, the lake was already dotted with hundreds of vehicles clustered in "ice villages" of 30 vehicles here and perhaps another 40 one-mile to the north. Towns of ice anglers were spread across the vast lake.
I recently dropped in at the Burke Coffee Haus, and joined a few friends where the topic of conversation was catfish. Though they enjoyed catching and eating walleyes, I just couldn't fathom why anyone would prefer walleyes to catfish. Their enthusiasm made me want to go home and pull the boat down to the river.
During much of my life as a hunter, I held a not so enthusiastic view toward hunting "introduced" or non-indigenous game in their new, adopted environment. With my narrow viewpoint, I felt that if God didn't put them there, they didn't belong there.
If I started rambling on today about Saxton Pope and Arthur Young, it may not ring a bell unless you are an archery hunter. Today, the record book and measuring system for recording trophy North American big-game animals taken with bow and arrow is named for Pope and Young. Many of today's readers are recorded in this book for deer they took locally with an arrow. Ever wonder how Pope and Young earned such recognition?
Today, I am going to drift away from the real world and speculate on what could be right here in our own South Dakota. We are privileged to live in a very special place. Hopefully you will tolerate my attempt at creativity for one week. In my hometown Wagner Post, Wagner Area Growth director Kelsey Doom pens the column "Community Spotlight." It features a different Wagner area citizen every week. A series of questions are asked of that citizen that include, "If I gave you $100,000 to start a business, what kind of business would you start?"
Finalizing the South Dakota 2017 hunting seasons appeared to be the primary agenda of the June 8 Department of Game, Fish, and Parks commissioners meeting in Oacoma. A wealth of relevant data was made available, and with this brief overview of the coming seasons, we'll have a good understanding of what's going on currently with South Dakota deer management.
Two weeks ago I unloaded some of my problems onto you when I lamented the shortcomings connected to my tremor. Fishing is difficult. I can't bait a hook, tie knots or unsnap a swivel. Though I should have kept these things to myself, that column precipitated an act of kindness that reinforced just how good people are.
If there's one thing I've heard over the years more than anything else, it would be the ranting and complaining by my fellow South Dakota sportsmen about the legions of Iowans and Minnesotans who come to our state to fish. It's likened to a migration of blue license plates. The way I see it, there are three things we can do about it: Fight it, Accept it, or Get Even! There aren't as many of us as there are of them, so we'll never see as many South Dakotans head to Iowa or Minnesota to fish as they send to us. But there are other things.
The past week was an eye opener for me as Betsy and I spent it on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. We made the trip with our daughter, Lisa, son-in-law, Rodney, granddaughter, Nichela, and grandson, Sam. Nichela and Sam were on spring break from college. In the past, Betsy and I had spent time on the big island, Hawaii, where we took in the volcanoes, Kauai, perhaps the least developed but most beautiful of the islands, and an airport layover on Oahu to visit Pearl Harbor.