Minutemen on the Chippewa Flowage

Thirty years ago my six-year enlistment in Wisconsin’s Air National Guard came to an end. A month after my enlistment ended I was attempting to canoe up the Mississippi River and the adventure has been nonstop ever since.

For most people that serve in the military a bond forms between you and your former men and women in uniform that never ends. This past weekend I participated in a friendly musky fishing tournament that several of my former guardsmen and I participate in each year and also a large number of people from my deer camp “The Red Brush Gang” and some of their friends that make up a very fun crew.

Saturday, Aug. 26

High 64, Low 52

Most of us are staying at the Deerfoot Lodge and Resort which is a clean, well-run resort on the Chippewa Flowage. If you have not been on it it’s as close to Canada as you will get and still be in Wisconsin.

Last night was a big night with lots of laughter for most of the gang and for some of us it was a very late night. Officially the tournament opened at 6:00 this morning, runs until 7 p.m. and then goes from 6-11 a.m. tomorrow.

A bit of a “Dark Cloud” came over the gang today when literal monsoon rains overcame this neck of the woods. Folks, let me tell you it was heavy rain with lots of wind. Rumor has it that many a good musky fishermen did not make it out at 6 a.m.. Rumor has it that one of the “big guys” in the tournament did not have rain pants and fished in just shorts.

My brother-in-law Dick Schuster and his brother, Randy, are diehards and were out at first light and were rewarded with watching an elk swim across the flowage and actually very close to their boat.

My partner is Jeff Neitzel. Jeff and I were both weapons loaders on the A-10 aircraft and we were both nuts back in the ‘80s and at least one of us is still nuts.

Fifteen years ago Jeff and I had an era where we did pretty good on both the northern pike side bet and once on the musky. Now we suck and I mean bad.

Last year we did not catch a fish and today, even though we did not make it out at first light, we gave it a good try and did not have a hit. Many times I listened to Jeff say things like this is unbelievable or what are we doing out here and not once did we see any of our compatriots from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Meanwhile my “old buddy” Todd Cibulka and his 18-yearold son Joey and 22-year-old daughter Hallie got lucky when Joey caught a 34-inch musky on a bucktail.

Back in the day, one of my bosses was John Meier who is a great guy to work with and enjoy a malt beverage with at night. John had a tough run of luck with a hip surgery and had to miss The Minuteman this year.

John’s son, Rob Meier, who is always John’s partner, teamed up with John’s daughter Julie Krueger of Lodi and today Julie caught her first musky which was 33-inches.

What would end the day with third place would be my nephew, Trent Schuster who was fishing with my stepson, Joey Dushek. Trent’s musky was 32 inches and at the awards presentation on Sunday Trent challenged me to write that he beat me in a fishing contest. Good job Trent, about all I have to say is there’s a first time for everything (and probably last).

While fishing with Trent, Joey caught a 29-inch northern pike which would end up giving Joey first on the northern pike side bet.

In all honesty I liked that the Ciblka’s won. Todd has only become an avid fisherman in the last few years and it was really cool to see this family unit create a life-long memory.

On the other side of the coin everyone really likes John Meier, so it was really awesome to see his kids take second.

In closing, though Trent and Joey are both full of desire to beat me at every fish, deer and duck bet, it was good to see them do well also.

In reality we all had a very wet and fun weekend.

Sunset


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