I am lucky that I do what I do and have no complaints. Between doing TV and Radio, it brings me to destinations all over the Midwest. The reason being is that so many outdoor destinations want to reach the Chicago market and I can get the word out for them.
This is the time of year when families are thinking of fishing vacations be it for a week long trip or one just for a weekend. One trip that I just made with Roger Wright, a pro-staff member of the Fishing and Outdoor Radio Show brought us to the Boulder Junction area in northern Wisconsin.
This is a good destination for Chicagoans in that it’s only about 5 to 6 hours north depending if you’re a far southsider like me or a northsider. It’s an easy drive up I-39 to Rt. 51, straight up the middle of the state. Considering that its expressway driving all the way up to Rhinelander, it makes for an easy drive. And if you drive conservatively, you can just about get all the way up there on one tank of gas.
The three lake chain offers everything you’d want to catch from panfish to muskie.
White Birch Village hosted an outdoor writer’s event bringing in several outdoor communicators. Manager John Altschwager wanted to show us not only the great fishing that could be had, but also give us some exposure to what Boulder Junction had to offer for tourism and dining.
To show us the variety of fishing that was available, John brought in four local fishing guides, Bob Bertch, Irv Keller, Mike Errington and Marty Clauson. All of these guides were able to lead us to any of the species available but each also had his own specialty.
I’ve fished with most all of these guides in the past but on this trip Roger and started out with Mike Errington. We fished for walleyes using light jigs and minnows. We’d cast into about 5 feet of water where weeds were just coming up. Working the minnows over the tops of the weeds in a jigging and retrieving fashion was what triggered the walleye bite. We got quite a few nice ones ranging from 3 to three and a half pounds.
That afternoon, Bob Bertch took us fishing for panfish. Crappies and bluegills were our target and we got them. We also caught quite a few bonus largemouth bass. We found that the rock bass were hungry as well as one nice 3 pound smallie that Bob caught.
Bob specializes in family trips for panfish. I’ve done a nice TV show with him a couple years ago on walleye fishing. With three of us in the boat, we got a triple limit in only a few hours.
Family fishing is fun if the kids are pulling in fish. Panfish are the best to keep them occupied. If you ever want to get kids involved in fishing, get them out for panfish and they’ll be hooked for life.
I didn’t get to fish with Irv Keller or Marty Clauson on this trip. We’ve fished together before in the Boulder Junction area. Irv is more known as a muskie guide. Actually he’s the first guide to ever be on my TV show and actually have someone in the boat catch and land a muskie. It was a trip with my daughter Lisa a few years ago. With that catch Irv has taken the lead over a half other muskie guides who failed.
Marty Clauson and I fished for muskie a couple years ago. Marty was the second to have a muskie caught on camera adding his name into the Illinois Outdoors Hall of Fame. Marty’s a good angler and his passion is for bass fishing. We’ve had a great time on the water catching smallies up north.
While we fished with Mike Errington on White Birch Lake he was telling us about his wife catching a 7 pound plus smallmouth bass there. He knew of a spot where several big fish called home. It was an area where there was a lot of good cover in the form of downed trees and huge boulders. I’m talking about rocks as big as a couch or bigger.
I wanted to get a real trophy sized fish on camera so Mike took Roger and me there late in the afternoon on one day. Using a jig and craw, Roger was able to hook into a 6 pound 7 ounce smallie. We took some quick measurements and photos and the fish was released. Roger is going to have a reproduction mount made of this fish.
The White Birch, Ballard and Irving chain of lakes has all the fish you’d ever want to catch. They’re all there and easy to reach from the White Birch Village Resort. But there’s also some good eating nearby in town. We got to dine at the Aqualand Ale House and the Guide’s Inn in Boulder Junction.
The Alehouse is new and has quickly made a reputation for themselves as the place to go to for craft beers and great sandwiches. The Guide’s Inn is a Northwoods icon and known for typical Supper Club fine dining. The Guide’s Inn is one of my favorites. Although they offer a full line of steaks, their biggest seller is the pan fried walleye. Roger had it and said it’s the best he’s ever had. I had the wild rice, cranberry and walleye stuffed walleye. I have to end this article because I’m getting hungry.
Our trip to the Northwoods was a success. We were able to enjoy great fishing on 3 lakes that I’ve never fished before. Staying at the White Birch Village was also new for us and it was most enjoyable. Clean, comfortable and spacious cabins nestled in the woods of the Northern Highland National Forest could not be beat. And if you follow me on Facebook at all, you’ve seen that dining in Boulder Junction is what vacationing is all about.
Top all this off with the fact that Boulder Junction is only a bit over 5 hours from Chicago. That means that “Great fishing is not that far away”.