Gone fishing

Susan Manzke
Bob Manzke pulls in a little fish from his fishing spot on the dock.

For the last few summers Bob and I have been happy to join in the Manzke family lake vacations, but Bob and I never fished. We’ve watched others fish, even witnessed grandchildren catching their first bluegills, but we never dropped a line in the water.

Since we were only going to the lake for a short time, neither Bob nor I got a fishing license. This year was different. This time we were going to buy our own licenses. 

Since both of us are over 65, we qualified for the Wisconsin resident senior citizen rate of $7. That is a great value, but we found a link to an even smaller fee. If a resident is a first-time buyer, or hasn’t fished for over ten years, you can purchase a license for $5, so we took the plunge.

To get our fishing permit I connected with the Wisconsin Go Wild resident Internet page and filled out our forms there. It took a little thinking, but I got mine and then I got Bob’s too - my hubby didn’t want to mess with the form online, but was fine with me doing it for him. In the end, I printed out our licenses and we were set to fish legally.

We went hunting for old poles left from Bob’s parents. Those were close to being collectables. Instead my friend, Colette gave us her poles since she wasn’t using them - Colette you can borrow them back anytime you have the urge to fish - our son-in-law Andy, put on new lines and all we needed. After a few dry casts in the backyard - I didn’t even try catching that tree - we were all set to go.  

A loon visits son-in-law Andy as he fishes from his kayak.

Memories of fishing with my parents flooded through me. Fishing was their favorite pastime. They went for panfish, nothing too big. 

I hated the cleaning part but it sure was yummy when Mom fried them up at home - her special recipe added Miracle Whip to the beaten egg dip, the rest was basic breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, but she wouldn’t tell anyone her secret - sorry, Mom, I let it slip.

Our first fishing plans didn’t work out, but eventually we got up to a fishing lake by Crivitz. Bob and I stayed on the dock while Andy and Rebecca took to their kayaks.

As I stood on the dock, I dipped a naked hook in the water. To my surprise, I almost caught a fish right there. I would have had it, too, if I hadn’t hurried to pull my line back - didn’t seem fair to catch one without any bait.

I forget who, but either Bob or Andy baited my first hook with a bit of nightcrawler. The little fish were super hungry. After a couple nibbles they cleaned my hook. Time for more bait.

This time I had to grab hold of a nightcrawler. It made me feel bad when it pulled back. The poor thing didn’t want to become fish food. Still, I took it, or part of it, and continued fishing - next time I’ll use bait that isn’t alive.

Bob and I pulled in little fish and released them back into the lake. There will be more next year. We weren’t fishing for our lunch - Andy grilled brats for us - he also caught and released the fish on his line, even those big enough to eat - my parents wouldn’t have understood this kind of sport fishing, but that’s what all the Manzkes do these days.

The first fish I actually pulled out of the water didn’t have the hook in its mouth. Somehow it had gotten it in its gill and I easily removed it and set it free.

Bob caught more fish than I did that day. We’re looking forward to another fishing outing soon. We’ll continue catching and releasing. That way I don’t have to clean any fish. It’s more fun going out for a fish dinner.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;