River Currents

by Free Speech on October 23, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Gary Engberg
©2009 Gary Engberg Outdoors

A Perfect Weekend for the Local Outdoorsman

Catfish playing his guitar at the Madison Fishing Expo.

Catfish playing his guitar at the Madison Fishing Expo.

The last week or so Mother Nature threw a curve ball at the thousands of hunters, anglers, and outdoors people who look forward to being outside with much cooler than normal temperatures, rain, and the occasional snow shower. But, this past weekend was gorgeous for any soul who lives for the outdoors and particularly for those who like to hunt and fish. The mornings were cool, but a warming south-west wind and clear skies brought in milder weather that had my thermometer pushing 60 degrees on Sunday afternoon. The norm for this time of fall is still almost 60 degrees with the early morning lows around 40 degrees. This weekend was an outstanding time to be outdoors in Wisconsin.

Last Thursday, the Antlerless Deer Hunt opened for four days and again (like during the Youth Hunt last week) I was busy registering deer the other side of the Wisconsin River in Sauk County. Since my registration station was at the Wilderness Fish and Game store in Sauk City, I got to speak to many men, women, and youngsters who were outdoors taking advantage of a perfect fall weekend. Besides those who came to register deer, I had hunters and fishermen coming by the Wilderness store to buy supplies and gear for their weekend and later fall pursuits. Hunters were buying guns, ammo, decoys, clothing, and other assorted outdoor supplies. Anglers were purchasing live bait, jigs, terminal tackle, crankbaits, and having fresh line spooled on their fishing reels. Birdwatchers and photographers were busy looking at binoculars, spotting scopes, and blinds for concealment in their activities. The awesome weather had people out in mass taking part in what many Wisconsinites do this time of the year; enjoy and participate in the numerous outdoor activities that are available at your fingertips.

Here is an example of a “typical’ day in fall for a Wisconsin outdoors person. I ran into a friend and outdoors companion, Catfish Stephenson, over the weekend while tagging deer. Many of you may know Catfish as a street busker or blues playing musician who has played the streets and sidewalks of downtown Madison for many years. Before settling in the Madison area, Catfish lived and played the his music in the bars and streets of Austin, Texas, Key Largo, Florida, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Springfield, Oregon to name a few of the places that he has called home in his 40 plus years of traveling as he criss-crossed the United States. The one thing that many of Catfish’s fans and friends don’t know is that he is an avid if not fanatical hunter and fisherman and that is why I’m bring him up in this week’s column.

Catfish and Katie with a pheasant and dove.

Catfish and Katie with a pheasant and dove.

Catfish is fishing and hunting almost every day of the year, if not playing a “gig” somewhere or traveling to and fro. I had the opportunity this year to fish with Catfish and enjoy his company many times in the Wisconsin outdoors. I’ve spent more than a few evenings listening to Catfish play his acoustic guitar and sing one of his original songs around a campfire over-looking the Wisconsin River. “Cat” is truly a Renaissance man in many ways; he’s a great cook, he reads regularly, he knows politics, world affairs, history, music, and so much more for a man that most think is just a singer, song-writer, and guitar player.

Catfish lives in Madison and takes advantage of the fishing and hunting that is at his fingertips and close to his local dwelling. Most mornings, he’s usually out hunting doves, geese, and ducks on public hunting grounds close to Madison, come afternoon he may be hunting pheasants or doves, and late in the afternoon he’s usually in a tree stand with his compound bow trying to harvest a deer. Come spring, summer, and fall you will also find Catfish fishing the Madison Chain of Lakes from the shore or from his canoe that is always resting on the top of his older pick-up truck. He also rides a motorcycle equipped to carry his fishing rods and gear wherever he may be fishing. Most of his fishing and hunting is done within view of the Madison capital and skyline! He takes advantage of all the hunting and fishing that is available close to the Madison city limits. This year, Catfish has blessed me with dove breasts, mallards, and geese for the oven and outdoor grill that were harvested only a few miles from the city. You do not have to spend big bucks or travel long distances to share in this outdoors bounty be it hunting or fishing. There are good opportunities for the hunter and angler within a 30 mile radius or less of the state capital.

Besides what Catfish was doing, I found many more local residents who were also taking advantage of the weather and the numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor activities available at our doorsteps. Another individual told me that he always takes his vacation this time of the year to cash in on the great opportunities that the fall brings to the Badger State. Some mornings, he duck and goose hunts, other mornings he may be in a tree stand bow hunting for deer or on Lake Wisconsin or the Wisconsin River fishing walleyes or muskys, and the afternoons are spent pheasant, turkey, and dove hunting on the area’s many public hunting grounds. The ambitious outdoorsman can hunt deer, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, rabbits, squirrels, and doves from now into the last few weeks of October and most of November. You may also fish for walleyes, muskies, and most other fish species on local waters and rivers as they go on a feeding frenzy to bulk up for the cold water months of winter.

There also were many others out this past weekend enjoying the fall colors, buying apples at the many orchards, picking hickory and walnuts, looking for migrating waterfowl and birds, and just “cruising” the Wisconsin countryside while enjoying the fall splendor. Now is the time to get outdoors whether you hunt or fish and enjoy the beauty that is only minutes away from the traffic and concrete of the city. Fall is truly the time for being outdoors with countless, local opportunities available! Visit me at www.garyengbergoutdoors.com for many photos sent by successful hunters, anglers, and outdoor photographers.

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