This week’s column is another happy one, and happy is always good. From 1969 to 1990, my dad, the late Robert Walters, loved camping, and sometimes renting a cabin at Stan’s Puckaway Resort, which is located in Marquette in Green Lake County.
There is only one other place where I have camped more than Stan’s, and that is my deer camp.
Stan and Emily Kochurek purchased what would become Stan’s back in 1951, would run it for over 50 years and they did an excellent job. Time takes us all, and first Stan, and then Emily, passed away, and this incredible part of Wisconsin’s history was virtually falling apart from roughly 2005 until 2016.
In 2016, Melvin “Skip” and Julie Breunig purchased this resort and began the multi-year project of bringing it back from the grave.
Mel is a plant electrician, and has been for Alliant Energy at the Portage plant for the last 36 years. He has a lot on his plate, so rebuilding his and Julie’s resort, which is now called Sunset Bay Campground and Resort, has been a huge project that is still at least two years away from having guests.
Next part of the story is Michelle Chiaro. Michelle is an ICU nurse that loves outdoor experiences, and the last two weeks we had to cancel trips that she was looking forward to going on, due to rough weather conditions.
This week’s plan was vanishing as well due to a solid rain prediction when I had a brainstorm. Maybe I should call Skip, who was two years younger than me when we were growing up in Poynette, and see if we could stay at his closed camp as guests. Long story short, the Breunigs gave us permission, and we would be their first overnight guests since the purchase.
Tuesday, May 26
High 77, low 54
It would be impossible to explain the hundreds of memories that constantly went through my mind as we pulled into Sunset Bay, and they would last for the next 48 hours until we broke camp in a solid rainfall. I was of the age of 8 to 28 in my time here, and we always camped in the same spot. Sometimes my brothers Mike and Tom came, but many of the times it was just Dad and I.
My dad always had our breakfast cooked on the Coleman stove before it got light out, and then Tom and Mike were loaded into our Jon boat and pulled behind dad and I by our 6-hsp power Mercury. We drifted on the east end of the lake before sunrise and casted Mepp’s spinners and kicked butt on northern pike, and perhaps one decent walleye a morning.
When the sun was too high on this shallow lake, which yielded Wisconsin’s state record northern pike, which was a 38-pounder back in 1952, we headed for the lily pads and fished bullhead and bluegill.
Today, Michelle and I built camp next to the lake and opened a couple of beers and started fishing from shore. Michelle is from Arkansas, and today she caught her first bluegill. These gills were very large and a blast to catch.
In fact, we had so much fun that we forgot to put my boat in the water, and the next thing we knew, it was after midnight. Just before midnight we went on a walk through the property, and it was almost surreal for me, as I felt like I was 9 years old again.
Wednesday, May 27
High 81, low 53
The big gills were hungry again this morning, and after that we put my 18.6 War Eagle in the water and went exploring, and that was just as much fun as the shore fishing. We trolled for whatever was hungry using crawler harnesses and Flicker Shads, and we caught northern pike, sheepshead and catfish.
We took an afternoon break and Mel showed up. As a kid, I only knew him as Skip, and he is staying as Skip in my brain. For close to two hours, we were given a tour and listened to his vision. It was incredible. We went in one of the cabins that my family used to rent, and he had a sign in it from a very long time ago that read, “Boat Rentals 50 cents a Day, Cabins $12.00 Per Week.” This place was established in 1910 and Skip and Julie have a goal that, once it is ready to reopen, it will be a happy place for people to come and stay.