• Tom Billings

Fishing vacations: Passing the past & future

As many families do in the summer mine recently returned from our summer vacation. I can

certainly appreciate as I get older my own childhood family vacations, simply because of how

much work it is for the parents to pull off a good family vacation. In past articles I have

mentioned my love of the North Woods, and as you would expect, that is where this summer

vacation was spent. If you love the outdoors then the woods and waters of Northern Wisconsin

is a destination you have to try.

This year’s vacation was full of the usual fun; camping, hiking, four wheeling, swimming, and of

course fishing. For the past 3 years we have stayed on a small off the beaten path lake. The

first two years we did a lot of pan fishing on this lake and have done very well. This year I

decided that I was going to really focus on fishing for Pike. I had noticed the last couple of

years that we caught some nice Pike while pan fishing and I felt if we focused on Pike we could

get some really big ones. Let’s talk about Pike for a little. Pike have become one of my favorite

fish to catch. Not only are they very aggressive, but when fillet correctly, down right tasty.

My 5 year old Jake is becoming a very good fisherman and this year stepped up to a spinning

reel from his Zebco 202.

Fishing for Pike gave him the opportunity to learn what the strike felt like and how to set the hook.

This is due to the aggressive nature of the Pike which it seems is always willing to eat (at least

on the lake we were at). My wife was also able to catch a few really nice Pike which for me was

awesome to watch! Pike can get very big and it gives anglers the opportunity to possibly

catch the biggest fish they have ever caught. This was the case for both my wife and my son

on this trip.

Fishing for Pike is pretty simple but there are a few things I would suggest. While the traditional

method includes a steel leader I used 30lb braided line which performed very well. We used

spinnerbaits mostly but also caught Pike on in-line spinners and buzzbaits. My son loves to use a white beetle spin and this also took several nice Pike during our trip. A medium heavy

6’6” or 7ft rod is plenty of rod to fight Pike with. We used spinning reels in medium size with

plenty of spool capacity.

I can’t say enough about the Hayward area of Wisconsin for family fun. Down town Hayward is

full of shopping and good places to eat or have a cold one. My family always goes during the

World Championship Lumberjack festival which many of you have probably seen on ESPN.

This is a great time and very entertaining. I highly recommend that you visit this event if in the

area during that time. The fishing fresh water hall of fame is also in Hayward and can

mesmerize any fishhead for hours. While in the area I also suggest a quick trip to the

Minong area which is home to Jack Link’s jerky. The local grocery store has some excellent

prices on jerky!

While in the North Woods this year we had very good cell reception which is not the norm.

Sitting at the camp fire one night listening to my daughter play guitar and sing, I received a

text from my Mom. Included was a picture of my Great Grandfather who was an avid fisherman.

I never had the chance to fish with him but he also loved to fish in the North Woods and

specifically Northern Wisconsin’s Hayward area. The picture she sent me was of him in

1965 holding two nice Pike! I felt as if he was with us on this trip. Funny how the more things

change the more they stay the same. 50 years ago my Great Grandfather was sitting in the

North Woods after a successful day of Pike fishing enjoying an evening fire. Reaching into

the cooler I twisted off a cap from my Leinenkugel and said “This one’s for you Otto”…..

Be prepared Be positive Be successful

Tom Billings

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