Trout and Trail Cameras.

Sunday afternoon, we headed out to check our game cameras after a month of leaving them alone. Mostly, it was Trail Camera Images Starring Squirrel and Leaf (one camera had over 700 images. 690 of moving leaf), but we got some pretty good images.

And since we were out that way, it meant trying our hand at trout fishing again. Which also meant Matt getting one trout, losing one, and me getting none. However, I did find a hole in each wader. The bright side is that I found said holes long before the icy water of duck season would be a problem. Now I have even more reason to upgrade to chest waders. Plus, my line broke at the spool, so I spent 15 or 20 minutes in thigh deep water, trying to re-rig my ling with one hand. A lot of agricultural run off goes into this creek, so a lot of it is silting in. I got stuck with both legs in soft, knee deep, sucking mud. Matt’s trout was a nice one, though. I just don’t really enjoy fishing Black Earth Creek.

Looking west, downstream.

Looking west, downstream.

Matt's little rainbow.

Matt’s little rainbow.

Wild Food: Butterflied, Pan-fried Rainbow Trout

Saturday afternoon, we got in the truck to head west of town to pick up some of our trail cameras, and then hit Black earth Creek for a little fishing. There are some camera images to put up later, which is encouraging.

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One trout on the day. I saw some swells, but otherwise had nothing to show for crawling through hackthorns, mud, and scrubby black willows. Matt’s little trout was 10.5″, an inch and a half over the limit. He came home with us.

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I didn’t want to fillet the fish and waste all that meat, since it was feeding the both of us. So I consulted Mr Hank Shaw’s blog, and lo. There was a tutorial on deboning a fish.

Only slightly messier than neccessary.

Only slightly messier than neccessary.

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So, with the fish mostly bone-free, I started in on dinner. It was a simple one- I made Mexican-style rice, sauteed some snow peas, and sliced up half an avocado. I seasoned the fish lightly with coriander, salt, and a touch of cumin, then pan-fried it, skin side down.

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I kept the heat at medium-med-low, and about halfway through I covered the cast iron pan to finish cooking the top of the fish, since I wasn’t going to flip it. It came out moist and flaky. After getting the fish de-boned, the cooking process for it and the rest of the meal clocked in under 30 minutes. I split the fish lengthwise, and we each got half, along with a hearty helping of rice. We’re hoping to get out for trout a bit more often.

One Last Summer Fling Before Fall and Life Catch Us Up.

Normally, my new posts go out on Mondays. But we got back from this vacation on a Thursday. I’m also working all through the weekend- closing the dining room tonight, and closing the bar on Saturday and Sunday. Those two days I also arrive at work by 11 am. They’ll both be long days. I’m not too sure how much I’ll have to write about come Monday, but I had an idea. You see a lot of how-to for packing for camping. I took some pictures of my get home, get unpacked process.

Anyhow. Last Monday I wrote about the salmon fishing we did last week Saturday. We stayed that night in the Appleton area with Matt’s brother and his wife. Sunday morning we hooked the camper back up, packed up the pups, and headed further north. We stopped at a little grocery store in a town along the way to stock up on food. It was a very pleasant ride all along country roads on a sunny day.  Farmers were haying, and that far north, we were seeing the outermost leaves on the ash and maple trees beginning to change color- in spite of temps in the 80s and up.

For the most part, we spent the week fishing. This was another National Forest campground- Richardson Lake. We camped here once last year in June, before I ever started this blog thing up. It was rainy and chilly the entire time, and we were stuck in a tent. At the time, the jon boat had only one trolling motor on a too-small battery, and the old Merc didn’t work. We also didn’t catch any fish.  Not so this time. We had the camper and the canoe. It was nice and warm most of the week. And were the fish ever biting. I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked, as my phone and only camera blew through its battery fairly quickly. I need to remember to turn off mobile data that far in the stix so it isn’t constantly searching for a signal.

We fished mostly there on Richardson, but one day we did go to a different lake, where Matt’s grandparents live. That’s where we caught the big pumpkinseed and the big bass. When we weren’t fishing, we were visiting Matt’s family and tooling around the area.

An Adventure in Wet Pants and Smashed Toes…

One thing I wish I’d gotten pictures of, but wisely did not take my phone/camera for was a trout fishing attempt. The Oconto river near Matt’s hometown is cold and rocky. It holds brook and brown trout. One of his old high school buddies took us down there for trout. It was rugged and beautiful. When we picked his buddy up, we should have known we were in for trouble. On the phone, he specifically requested Mike’s Hard Black Raspberry Lemonade and jalapeno beef sticks. He said without those, there would be no trout. He was waiting in his driveway in a pair of chest waders. Matt and I were in shorts and sandals. We went offroad in the Durango for a couple miles, and then bushwhacked our way down to the water. When I said rocky, I meant bouldery. And loggy. When logging was still a big thing in northern Wisconsin, they’d floated logs down the river, and you can still see some of the bigger ones. The rest are all deadfalls. We spent two or three hours scrambling over rocks, under trees, and through icy water. Matt dunked himself repeatedly. I didn’t go in over my knees until the last minute, soaking my right side. No trout, only chubs and smashed, tender feet.

Besides Fishing…

Other than fishing, we did some shooting. I got in some practice with my bow and got it sighted in. We also did some trap shooting, and I got more practice with my shotgun. Based on my practice, the ducks and geese have quite the upper hand this year.

We also went coyote hunting on his grandfather’s farm. The first morning we didn’t see anything. But we went our last night there (Wednesday). It turned into a bit of scouting. We saw at least 5 deer. We also saw a flock of turkeys. Three toms, three jakes. We didn’t see any coyotes, but they did answer our calls in the distance.

Blurry turkey blobs. I need a new camera.

Blurry turkey blobs. I need a new camera.

However, we started to hear thunder rumbling. On the way over, we’d caught some weather advisories out of Marquette, Michigan and Marinette. We hoped it would pass north of us, but then the thunder got louder and this happened.

Not good.

Not good.

It poured. We got soaked. The deer got soaked. The turkeys got soaked. We were mighty grateful for the camper when we got back to the site. Our firepit was full of water, and there were a couple inches of water standing on the ground over most of the site. If we’d had a tent, we’d have been screwed. We changed into dry clothes, and waited it out.

It stopped raining, and Matt decided to throw a line in the lake. Earlier in the trip the dogs had knocked my sandals into the fire, leaving me with only my hunting boots or my leather boots. I opted not to go. After about 20 minutes, Matt shut off the generator on me and said “I’m vetoing you. Come down here”. He’d had a pretty decent bite. We pushed the canoe out for some post-storm fishing. I caught a tiny blue gill, which we used for bait. And Matt finally caught a pike. But the best thing was the light at sunset.

Thursday morning, we headed out one more time to fish. In the pictures above, we kept 32 of the fish we caught. We tossed at least that many back, and used some of the really small ‘gills for bait (only in the lakes we caught them in). Once the morning bite stopped around 8:30, we packed everything in, and headed back home.

A Return to Normal.

Three hours later, we re entered civilization and our normal lives. I work all weekend. Matt works all of today (Friday). Next month he takes over the Madison recruiting office (for the next couple years), and I have the rest of the season to finish out at the golf course (who knows how long the weather will hold). By January, I hope to be back in college classes so I can maybe get this godforsaken degree of mine an inch closer to done.

This vacation was, I think, just a pause or a breath before we both enter a bit of a new chapter. Dealing with recruiting duty with Matt just a canvassing recruiter for the last three years was incredibly hard. The first several months of him running the office will be tough as well, particularly since he’s starting right when school does. It will be a different kind of hard. I’ll be paying down the last of what I owe UW-Madison from two years ago (yuck, I know), and saving up to pay for next spring. Our one touchstone through all of this mess will be our outdoors hobbies. Hunting, fishing, all of it. It keeps us grounded, and it keeps us together.

A Perfect Sunday, As Far as I’m Concerned.

Hoo, boy. We had such a big weekend. After posting about the demolition on the boat interior, we scooted on off to Milwaukee. The plan was to attend this function, stay in the hotel they provided us, and then go down to Racine, fish, and come home.

I’m happy to say it went off without a hitch. The hotel provided for us was wonderful. We had a jacuzzi and a rain shower. The function was a pretty good time- I got to meet a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. One of Matt’s coworkers met the regional director of Homeland Security. And we got to have a big, fancy dinner at the Harley Davidson museum in Milwaukee. The open bar didn’t hurt, and neither did the fact that a wealthy former Marine picked up our tabs at the bar afterward.

So, this morning, we had breakfast at the hotel and took advantage of the amenities. We checked out of the hotel, and left for Racine, about 25 miles away. We had hoped to find the dam on the Root River there. For a large, inanimate, cement object, it proved elusive. We eventually just found the Root River Steelhead Facility, where the DNR does a lot of their stocking and sampling. We spent most of the day fishing nearby. I caught my first trout, and it was my first time using exclusively lures. Matt caught a couple trout, and a nice, big bass. I caught a little bass and a lot of little trout. We saw some real lunkers in the clear water, but they weren’t having any of our shenanigans. They were almost all rainbow trout, but Matt did get one brown trout.

We were out for about 6 hours. I had a blast, even though I didn’t catch any keepers. Trout are so much fun. They’re such spunky little fish, and I loved seeing the little guys swim up to hit my spinners.

We also had the good fortune to meet a wonderful fly fisher, who took pity on Matt and walked down to show him some stuff. He even gave Matt a fly. He was so nice!

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We stayed in this area most of the day, on about a 3/4 mile stretch of river. We later moved on to a different area, much farther upstream, but we didn’t catch anything there and eventually decided to head home. It was a great day, and we had a good time. It was nice to get out of town for a little while. I’ll go ahead and dump some captioned photos tonight.

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First trout of the day.

First trout of the day.

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My little smallmouth

My little smallmouth

My first trout.

My first trout.

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Beautiful day, beautiful setting.

Beautiful day, beautiful setting.

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Muscle Man

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Itty bitty trout!

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17" small mouth.

17″ small mouth.

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We’re Really Good at Filling Up a Weekend

This weekend was a busy one at Play Outdoors central. The weather gets nice, and suddenly the guy I could barely drag off the couch since deer season is bouncing off the walls and flitting from neglected project to neglected project. What with getting the boat home Friday evening, and spending time both Saturday and Sunday working on it, one would think we wouldn’t have had time to do anything else. We got some yard work done, though. Planted some apple trees, and I got pallets and the rest of the makings for those pallet gardens you see all over Pinterest. We also tried to get our little fishing boat back, but somehow Discount Tire gave me the wrong info when they said they had the tire on Friday. Hopefully it will be in today, because Matt and I both very badly want to bowfish, and I really want to make a post on it.

Saturday afternoon, we brushed off all the flaking, old paint on our camper in preparation for finally painting the old girl.

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We used steel wool to brush off what’s left of the paint on the aluminum. I’ll take some Goo Gone to the pine tar, but a lot of that turned out to be honest to goodness roofing tar. We’ll leave that. It’s obviously there for a reason.

Sunday morning/early afternoon, we went trout fishing on Black Earth Creek. We saw trout darting here and there in the water, but it was my first time using spinnerbait, and only Matt’s second time out for trout. His only advice to me was “Don’t let the lure touch the bottom”. I learned the hard way to be glad for my waders. We worked up the banks in opposite directions for a little while. I found a nice wide area, and Matt came to practice with his fly rod. I caught a lot of sticks, some rocks, and quite the sun burn on my arms and chest. However, I think I found a new happy place. I’ll leave some pictures in lieu of words.

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