Opening day of fishing season

Jerry Apps
A younger Jerry Apps along with his daughter Sue proudly show off a recently caught trout.

When I was a kid, outside of Christmas, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, two equally important events were the opening day of deer season in the fall, and the first day of fishing season in May.

Our fishing equipment consisted of a 14-foot long cane pole, some heavy green fish line, a red and white bobber, and a hook. All were available from Hotz’s Hardware in Wild Rose.

On the opening day of fishing season, when I was maybe 12 years old, my dad, brothers, and I would gather up the cane poles that we stored under the eaves of the corncrib. Then we’d dig some earthworms from a place back of the chicken house where we’d always found plenty of them, put them in a tin can, tie the cane poles across the top of the old black Plymouth and drive to Norwegian Lake.

We’d stop at Anderson’s farm, bordering the lake, and rent a wooden boat from them. One dollar rental fee. We’d spend a couple of hours tossing out our lines and hauling in big bluegills — the fish that Pa prized above all others. And that evening, we ate pan-fried blue gills — what a treat.

As I got older the tradition continued, except I moved from a long cane pole to one of those fancy fishing rods that had a reel and fish-line about the size of a single strand of a spider web. I also got interested in trout fishing — so opening day was on the Pine River, or more often, at the Wild Rose Mill Pond.

Great family memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: One way to put aside your troubles is to go fishing.

Jerry Apps

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to