With Matt working most of this past weekend, we stuck around town again to check out our local fish expo. Overall: Fewer booths, fewer fun raffles, more boats and boat dealers.
This year it was pretty meh. Part of what made last year’s fun was that most of the lodges were doing free raffles for fishing and hunting packages. I never win anything, but I’m a sucker for raffles. Plus, there was always the chance. This year the few raffles I saw were pay-to-play, and there were maybe two of them. Matt did look over some of the boats, and we might begin eyeing a new small fishing boat, given that our poor john boat is only wooden, and handmade at that- it’s slowly beginning to fall apart. Matt had to patch on some fiberglass to the transom last summer to stop a slow leak. The first trailer we had for it (you know, the one that snapped its axle) left an alarming about of boat hanging off the back end, and that first old Mercury motor we had weighs a ton. That probably started the process, and I’m sure we’ve been none too gentle with the poor girl. Anyhow, there was a dealer there with some boats that, though not sparkly, would make a fine transition from lake fishing to duck hunting.
So since the show itself was sort of a flop, we focused on the seminars. Saturday was “Panfishing the Madison Chain: Spring, Summer, and Fall” with Joe Puccio. Matt and I attended that one together, and it was pretty good. We have garbag luck all year round on these lakes, and it’s a pity he didn’t include Winter. We could use the help. But hopefully, all the notes we took turn into some results once the weather warms up- the speaker had photos of some pretty big bluegills, and he’s been fishing these lakes for 50 some years. Sunday, Matt had shippers (kids shipping out to Boot Camp after their time in the DEP, usually about 6-9 months). So, I trekked on over to the show by myself. I had two in mind- Great Lakes Experiences with Dan Fox, a salmon guide out of Port Washington, and a seminar on some tricks to trigger muskies to bite with Joe Bucher. The Great Lakes seminar was alright- information for trolling the big open water. I took some notes; once the Ditch Boat gets fixed we might need it.
The muskie seminar was Matt’s idea. He was really, really hoping it would be localized advice for our lakes here- we’ve seen some muskies at night that we thought were logs in the water. Plus we’ve spent all that time trying to troll for them to no avail. Muskie are the fish of a thousand casts, after all. The entire hour long seminar, though Mr Bucher is very friendly and entertaining, boiled down to this: do not develop a pattern. In your casts, in your retrieves. Seemingly random movement triggers muskie to bite rather than just follow the bait. Also, keep your gear in good shape.
So it was another pretty boring weekend. We’ve only got another weekend or two before the close of the season for game fish. And probably only another three before shanties have to be off the ice completely. Given the deep cold this Winter, the ice may stay safe until late March, but pretty soon, we’ll be twiddling our thumbs while we wait for the lakes to thaw or for turkey season to start.