My daughter Selina is 17. The countdown to when the current Necedah High School junior leaves the nest is no longer that far off. Selina is in seven clubs, and is an officer in a few of them. She works at the Necedah Kwik Trip and has a lot of friends.
I have taken Selina on a winter camping and ice fishing trip every winter since she was 2. Scheduling a weekend getaway with her has become very difficult due to a robust schedule, but this past week Selina and I camped for two nights on Lake Onalaska in an attempt to catch a very large northern pike.
Thursday. Feb. 15
High 16, low 5
I have never fished on Lake Onalaska, which is a part of the Mississippi and Black Rivers. It is bout 8,000 acres in size and has several islands and channels.
For the last month, I have been hearing about some really big gators being caught out of here, and when I mean big, I am saying 31 to 41 inches, and rumors of a couple that were 45 inches.
Yesterday I made a trip over here and built our camp, and in the two hours that I was on the ice, I saw a very fat 37-inch northern pike caught, and also one that was 35 inches.
It may seem like Selina does a lot of this outdoor stuff, but in reality, she has a lot of experience on several subjects and is too busy to do weekly outdoor experiences. I think her favorite part of these trips are spending time with her beloved golden retriever Fire, along with Fire’s crazy pup Ruby.
We got to camp in time to put out three tip-ups a piece. Each was baited with a large shiner. I use 17-pound fluorocarbon line for a leader and a No. 10 treble hook.
Just before dark Selina had a flag, and she put up a great fight on what seemed to be a very large fish. As luck would have it, it cut through the leader. We really were not too upset, as we had a lot of time left to fish.
Friday, Feb. 16
High 18, low 3
I put lights on our tip-ups, and at 1 a.m., one of Selina’s lit up, which generally signals potential fish action. I woke Selina, and it was very windy and cold. She dressed like an Eskimo and when we got to her tip-up, there was a fish on the other end, and the hand-over-hand battle of a tip-up fisherwoman began.
Selina’s gator was not a monster, but it was 31 inches and gave us some quality meat. We went back to camp, I made a livewell and she hit the rack.
During the day, my good friend Mike Brown, who is a retired school teacher and the president of the Coulee Chapter of Kids and Mentors Outdoors was on the ice with us as well, and folks I have to tell you there are some very good tip up fishermen here. I saw at least five gators caught that were between 34 and 36 inches, and though we had a great day, it was not without some stress.
Two more times today Selina had a big pike break her leader, which caused me to rethink my leader strategy.
In reality, Selina and I do not care about what we catch or shoot. We cook really good meals, are well aware that we are survivors on the ice. Selina is always talking to her dogs, and of course they always want to snuggle with her on her cot.
The clock is ticking. After watching Kevin, Travis and Joey move on with their lives after high school, I am well aware that the last bird will be flying out of the nest in about 18 moons.
I like to think that they were prepared well.