Every three months or so, Matt has to go away to All Hands training. Since the recruiters are generally pretty isolated out here, away from the Fleet and all the reasons people typically join the Marine Corps, it’s a combination of training updates, and a morale-boosting activity for two days. They do it in different cities all over Wisconsin, and the activities are always different, but August’s All Hands is always Family Day. Other branches and other stations do it all kinds of different ways, but here, we get cheap passes up to Wisconsin Dells. It was my first day off in seven days. We spent the better part of yesterday at the Mt Olympus theme park up there, riding waterslides, roller coasters, and go carts.
We also took the boat up with us. When it got to be about 4 o’clock, we said goodbye to some of the work buddies Matt rarely gets to see, and ducked out of the park. First stop was locating a bait shop among all the lake houses up there. Once that was finished, we found ourselves a boat launch and got on our way.
The thing about the Wisconsin River up in the Dells, though, is that it’s a major tourist attraction. The Dells are there because of the beautiful sandstone formations, and the famous Wisconsin Army Ducks were out in force.
At one point, a Duck Driver even worked us into his tour, joking that he saw the same man out yesterday with a different woman. We also had to contend with the Jet Boats.
Otherwise calm water was made pretty turbulent with all this traffic. We motored a bit upstream and anchored near a sandbar, out of the lanes these things use. The fish were definitely biting. Matt caught a green bluegill within minutes. He also caught a little largemouth bass. My one fish here was a largemouth just shy of the legal limit at 13.5 inches
While I was reeling in that fish, one of the recruiters Matt knows from another city in Wisconsin called him. He and his wife wanted to fish with us. So, we puttered back to the launch, picked them up, and went downstream, fishing near this neat island.
There were small fish jumping everywhere here. Nothing really bit, until about 30 minutes in, another Duck Tour came by. The driver went straight over one of Matt’s lines. He hooked into the Duck boat by accident. Luckily, the driver had slowed down to ask how our fishing was. We were able to shout over that we’d caught his boat, he turned around and came close to give us some slack.
After that incident, we motored back upstream to that sandbar. We fished there until dark with few mishaps. Matt caught a big sheephead carp, and kept it, intending to practice his taxidermy on it. With the small school of bluegills he’s collected, the carp, and goodness only know what else he’ll keep to practice on, we’ll have a nice little starter seascape of taxidermied fish.
I had fun on the water. The Wisconsin is a nice river, though my only experience on it was an overnight kayaking trip two years ago on a much lower portion of it, below the Sauk City dam. It’s much deeper up in the Dells, even below the dam there. Our fish finder was reading 40 feet in the channel, and there was a hole under one of those bluffs registering 60 feet deep. We didn’t get a big flathead catfish like Matt hoped for, but we caught more fish than we ever do in the Madison Chain.