The big walleye story


We finally had some “safe” ice around these parts of Washington County, so I took my son, Hunter, and some of his buddies out ice fishing on Friess Lake in Richfield.  Joining us were Scott Olin and his son, Jack, Steve Ulesich and his son, Trevor, Dan Mantz and his son Logan, and Craig Gromacki, all from Slinger or Richfield.

I never expect much from our local lakes in terms of coming home with enough fish for a fry, but odds are pretty good that the kids can at least chase a few flags and sort though some small panfish.  A walleye?  Probably not.

But the kids are all 15 or 16, so at least we don’t have to tie all of the knots or bait all of the hooks.  Do they set the tip-ups according to the depth they are fishing? Not really, but it’s a learning curve, ya know?  Let them fail now so that later they know how to properly set the depths.  After all, some day I’ll be pushing up daises and won’t be there to correct their errors.  They need to figure it out on their own, and believe you me, they have to figure it out on their own cause Dad sometimes is seen as the Village Idiot and they won’t accept general instruction if they don’t figure things out on their own.

Anyway, about 10 tips-ups were set, the fish-finders were thumping, and jigs were going vertical.  The results yielded not much but the Dad’s enjoyed watching the kids test the waters on their own.  We told stories about their football and baseball games gone by, and told a few jokes that were just vulgar enough to be rated PG13.

It was cool.

Suddenly, as we sipped a beverage or two, Scott Olin saw a mark on the vexilar that was moving.  No mistakes.  It wasn’t weeds.  It was an actual fish.

“Here is comes,” Olin said.  “He’s coming up.”

Next thing you know, Olin’s rod was bent double and he was fighting a real fish.  And, it appeared to have some shoulders on it.

“Got to be a pike, no probably a bass,” Olin said.

We yanked the transducer out of the hole and saw the unmistakable gold of a walleye, or no, a smallmouth maybe.  Four guys were now over the hole watching the unexpected show.  Olin’s hand shot down the hole like Kwai Chang Caine from the TV series, Kung Fu, and he pulled up the bounty.

A sucker- in fact, we were all suckers, for thinking it was a walleye.  Still, the drama was just as though he had a big walleye on the business end of his jig. The kids were about 100 yards away from us jigging, so Olin hoisted the fish up and yelled “Nice walleye.”

They all came running.

It was getting dark and it started to rain so we picked up shop and headed off the ice.  On the way in, a couple guys at Wally and Bee’s Tavern came out.

“We heard you guys caught a nice walleye,” they said.

“Yup, it was a good one,” I said.  “But we put her back.”



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