Most people take some time late in December to take a look back at the year that was. I'm no different. Today's column looks back at 2012 and looks forward to the promise of a new year.
I'm not an ice fisherman and don't have much to say about it. I do know that last year's mild winter caused poor ice conditions and a lack of snow left most snowmobilers disappointed. The mild winter was a blessing for hunters, though.
Many turkey hunters were successful this past spring, and the deer herd seemed to bounce back after a number of down years. While the deer numbers still aren't great, the population seems to be on the upswing judging from the number of success stories I've heard. In my own case, the archery season was better for me, scoring on a doe early, and as I have written, hitting and losing a buck (and flat out missing two others). Deer sightings were up during the bow season, but gun season was pretty dismal for me, only spotting two does the entire season.
Getting back to turkeys, I had a lot of action. I took a student with me for the Learn to Hunt program and another kid with for the Youth Hunt. It seemed the action was a little slow during both those hunts, but we saw birds and had a lot of gobbling. We just could not close the gap for a shot. My own turkey hunt was incredibly eventful during the fourth period. I chose to bowhunt most of the time and saw more birds this year than ever before. Only once did I get anything within bow range (3 jakes), though. I never let an arrow fly. The last few days I opted for my shotgun and the birds stayed out of range.
Fishing was also pretty good this year. And if I was to grade it, I'd give it a B+. Steelhead fishing in spring was excellent, and finding them up in the Pigeon River was easy. Walleye fishing on the Fox River in DePere was ok, but as is true with anything, timing is the key. And my timing wasn't the greatest this year.
Panfish were a lot of fun in 2012. Lake Noquebay near Crivitz is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to fish for bluegills and bass, and I even caught some nice crappies there. I'm still learning the lake, but even during the late summer, I still got on some very nice panfish.
Shawano Lake is my all time favorite place to fish. The lake was a little tough for me this year, as my time was fairly limited there. When I did get there, the wind was ridiculous. We still caught fish, but the conditions hindered us a bit.
In the Sheboygan area, Crystal and Long lakes were higher on my priority list. Long Lake is a lake we used to frequent years ago, and after returning this year, we found mostly crappies and bass. And nice ones at that. Crystal Lake on the other hand coughed up some nicer fish this year, but spent a little more time having to find them.
I also fished on Lake Michigan this year, more than I have in a long time. While I get out on the big water each year, some friends took me out on their boat and we had a banner year. We got more kings than anything, with rainbows, coho's and even a few lakers in the mix. Those guys got out in the spring for browns and and put a pretty good smackdown on them as well.
That about sums up 2012. What is there to look forward to in 2013? I plan on doing more fishing on the above mentioned lakes, and plan on getting an electric motor so I not only can fish those lakes more effectively, but also hit some of the lakes around here that don't allow gas motors. I know what lies in wait on those lakes.
I'm hoping to get on the big pond more this summer too. Hard to top catching fish that tire your arms out.
The spring walleyes on the Fox River will get assaulted a little more this year, and I'm hoping to crack that 10- to 12-pound 30-inch mark this season. Lake Winnebago will also get a few more vistis from me this year, as well as my favorite northern lakes.
Hunting season is looking promising. I plan to put up my stands in the spring and perhaps add a new spot or two. Spring scouting is something I haven't done enough of and I believe it will help my odds in the fall. As far as turkey hunting goes, I will have to see if I draw a tag. I have a good idea how i'm going to hit that season and I already have a kid lined up for the Learn to Hunt and the Youth Hunt events. Even if I don't get a a tag, I love helping others get a bird.
And with the new snow we've gotten, I'm looking forward to rabbit and coyote hunting. Coyotes are something I want to accomplish for a couple reasons. Firstly, they are tough to hunt and, second, taking out coyotes will help the deer population.
So that's my look at the year we're wrapping up and what I hope to be a wildly succesful 2013. Merry Christmas and I pray each of you has a Happy New Year. May the new year bring all your outdoor dreams to a reality.