Although our winter has been mild by Wisconsin standards it still was a long winter. Perhaps it is a matter of age. It seems the older I get the longer winters become. The Bass Queen and I escaped winter by going to Mexico for eight days in the last of February and early March. A couple of days before we left I took the boat to The Boat Doctor for its spring check up. We spent the time in Mexico sitting in the sun, reading books and letting warm ocean breezes blow through our toes while drinking gin and tonics all day. Not a bad way of life but we eventually had to return to reality. Vacation can’t last forever. Once returning home we found warm spring days and no snow. We were driving with the car windows down. It has been awhile since we could do that. The Bass Queen got into the spring weather by wearing shorts and a t-shirt or perhaps she just wasn’t willing to give up on Mexico yet. I called The Boat Doctor. The boat was ready. I called my buddy Dennis to tell him I was getting the boat and wondering if he wanted to go fishing. “You bet,” he said. The first fishing trip of the year was set. Now we went ice fishing earlier in the winter but it just isn’t the same. This fishing trip was the first time in a boat on open water. There is a big difference. “I’m looking forward to it,” Dennis said. I told him I was too. Here is where things usually get a bit messy. The weather is great. Temperatures are in the 60s. People are acting like it is summer. But what they don’t know is I am going on the first fishing trip of the year and it means the weather is about to change. In mid-March when I go fishing for the first time there have been blizzards, ice storms and all sorts of nasty weather. It has gotten to the point I actually believe there is a classical cause and effect relationship here. No matter how warm and nice the weather is, once I plan on the first fishing trip of the year the weather immediately turns bad. With a sense of trepidation I got the boat and tackle ready while watching the weather reports. Sure enough, the weather forecasters called for cooler temperatures and rain for the next several days. But the plan was made and nothing was going to stop Dennis and I getting out on the water for our first trip of the season. When I opened the garage I saw the driveway was wet so it had rained. Skies were ugly gray looking like it was just a matter of time before the rain started again. What else did I expect? At least we weren’t suppose to have a blizzard or ice storm. On the way to the Mississippi River we had the windshield wipers on but by the time we got to the landing it stopped raining. It didn’t even seem cold and the wind was almost nonexistent. Dennis and I wondered what was going on. This didn’t seem right. We should at least have a snow flurry. The first fish was a small six-inch walleye. It didn’t matter. It still was the first fish caught in a boat on open water. The season officially began and the day just started. The outlook from other fishermen drifting by us was not encouraging. They all said fishing was slow and many of them had not caught a fish yet. But that didn’t bother Dennis and me. It was just good to be out on the water again. It wasn’t raining which continued to bewilder us. A thick bank of fog obscured the bluff across the river. I think we were still waiting for the blizzard. After all, this is the first fishing trip. We caught another four or five fish, all small walleyes but at least we weren’t skunked and catching some fish. We stopped for lunch which was topped off with Dennis’ wife Kathryn’s homemade cookies. I took a cookie, sat back up on the front seat and dropped my bait back to the bottom. I no sooner finished the cookie when a fish slammed my bait. This fish was bigger and I yelled for Dennis to grab the net. It turned out to be a 14-inch sauger. It was a keeper so it went into the livewell. Dennis noted the connection with eating the cookie and catching the first keeper fish so he offered me another cookie. Half an hour later I felt a surge on my line and when setting the hook the fish just took off. It put up a strong, bulldog fight. My spinning rod was doubled over and line was peeling off the reel. Finally we saw the fish. It was a big carp. It still took another couple of minutes to get the fish next to the boat for Dennis to net. The fish was about 10 to 12 pounds. It put up a good fight and it was fun to catch. It was a nice surprise. I picked up another keeper sauger. This one was a couple inches longer than the first one. We caught a few smaller fish and just minutes before we were going to leave I felt another surge on my line. It was another carp, a little bigger then the first one and a great fight. It seemed like a good way to end the day. There was a small, older aluminum boat with a father and two young sons nearby and they were happy to take our two keeper sauger since they had only one walleye on their stringer. On the way home Dennis and I reminisced about early season fishing in other years. We were still surprised we had such good weather. We remembered snow storms, ice storm and torrential rains. Some years we caught more fish and other years less. This year we caught enough fish to call the day a success and we were very happy to be out on the water again. Editor’s Note: The Notes From The Dockside is an exclusive feature appearing in the Hudson Star-Observer on the first and third issues of each month.   --Mike Yurk, outdoor columnist

Although our winter has been mild by Wisconsin standards it still was a long winter. Perhaps it is a matter of age. It seems the older I get the longer winters become.The Bass Queen and I escaped winter by going to Mexico for eight days in the last of February and early March. A couple of days before we left I took the boat to The Boat Doctor for its spring check up. We spent the time in Mexico sitting in the sun, reading books and letting warm ocean breezes blow through our toes while drinking gin and tonics all day. Not a bad way of life but we eventually had to return to reality. Vacation can’t last forever.Once returning home we found warm spring days and no snow. We were driving with the car windows down. It has been awhile since we could do that. The Bass Queen got into the spring weather by wearing shorts and at-shirt or perhaps she just wasn’t willing to give up on Mexico yet.I called The Boat Doctor. The boat was ready. I called my buddy Dennis to tell him I was getting the boat and wondering if he wanted to go fishing.“You bet,” he said. The first fishing trip of the year was set. Now we went ice fishing earlier in the winter but it just isn’t the same. This fishing trip was the first time in a boat on open water. There is a big difference. “I’m looking forward to it,” Dennis said. I told him I was too.Here is where things usually get a bit messy. The weather is great. Temperatures are in the 60s. People are acting like it is summer. But what they don’t know is I am going on the first fishing trip of the year and it means the weather is about to change. In mid-March when I go fishing for the first time there have been blizzards, ice storms and all sorts of nasty weather. It has gotten to the point I actually believe there is a classical cause and effect relationship here. No matter how warm and nice the weather is, once I plan on the first fishing trip of the year the weather immediately turns bad.With a sense of trepidation I got the boat and tackle ready while watching the weather reports. Sure enough, the weather forecasters called for cooler temperatures and rain for the next several days. But the plan was made and nothing was going to stop Dennis and I getting out on the water for our first trip of the season.When I opened the garage I saw the driveway was wet so it had rained. Skies were ugly gray looking like it was just a matter of time before the rain started again. What else did I expect? At least we weren’t suppose to have a blizzard or ice storm. On the way to the Mississippi River we had the windshield wipers on but by the time we got to the landing it stopped raining. It didn’t even seem cold and the wind was almost nonexistent. Dennis and I wondered what was going on. This didn’t seem right. We should at least have a snow flurry.The first fish was a small six-inch walleye. It didn’t matter. It still was the first fish caught in a boat on open water. The season officially began and the day just started. The outlook from other fishermen drifting by us was not encouraging. They all said fishing was slow and many of them had not caught a fish yet. But that didn’t bother Dennis and me. It was just good to be out on the water again. It wasn’t raining which continued to bewilder us. A thick bank of fog obscured the bluff across the river. I think we were still waiting for the blizzard. After all, this is the first fishing trip.We caught another four or five fish, all small walleyes but at least we weren’t skunked and catching some fish. We stopped for lunch which was topped off with Dennis’ wife Kathryn’s homemade cookies. I took a cookie, sat back up on the front seat and dropped my bait back to the bottom. I no sooner finished the cookie when a fish slammed my bait. This fish was bigger and I yelled for Dennis to grab the net. It turned out to be a 14-inch sauger. It was a keeper so it went into the livewell. Dennis noted the connection with eating the cookie and catching the first keeper fish so he offered me another cookie.Half an hour later I felt a surge on my line and when setting the hook the fish just took off. It put up a strong, bulldog fight. My spinning rod was doubled over and line was peeling off the reel. Finally we saw the fish. It was a big carp. It still took another couple of minutes to get the fish next to the boat for Dennis to net. The fish was about 10 to 12 pounds. It put up a good fight and it was fun to catch. It was a nice surprise.I picked up another keeper sauger. This one was a couple inches longer than the first one. We caught a few smaller fish and just minutes before we were going to leave I felt another surge on my line. It was another carp, a little bigger then the first one and a great fight. It seemed like a good way to end the day. There was a small, older aluminum boat with a father and two young sons nearby and they were happy to take our two keeper sauger since they had only one walleye on their stringer.On the way home Dennis and I reminisced about early season fishing in other years. We were still surprised we had such good weather. We remembered snow storms, ice storm and torrential rains. Some years we caught more fish and other years less. This year we caught enough fish to call the day a success and we were very happy to be out on the water again.Editor’s Note: The Notes From The Dockside is an exclusive feature appearing in the Hudson Star-Observer on the first and third issues of each month. --Mike Yurk, outdoor columnist

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