My wife Jan and I just returned from a two-week vacation in the Midwest. The reason for going there was to visit relatives in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin; visit the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wis.; take a boat cruise among the Apostle Islands; and do a little trout fishing in upper Wisconsin.
Well, forget about the fishing. Like here, they received an awful lot of rain and it was impossible to fish the rivers. In fact, we couldn't even get to the river's edge due to the flooding.
A major item on our agenda was to stop in to visit relatives (daughter-in-law's parents, Sharen and Dan Theissen) whom we had not seen in 3 years. They own a diner called The River's Edge in Saukville, Wis., and we arranged to have breakfast with them. I must admit that was the longest drive for breakfast we ever made (970 miles in 15 hours).
After a great breakfast and wonderful visit with Sharen and Dan, we headed north toward Hayward.
The primary reason for visiting the Hall of Fame was to see if the late Charles Lahey of Pittsfield, a close personal friend of ours, was truly inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. At first, we couldn't find him, but it turned out we were looking in the wrong place.
His plaque and picture were prominently displayed in a more important place than we were looking, along with the most famous fishermen and fishing writers in the world -- people like Isaac Walton, Gadabout Gaddis, Ted Trueblood, Ray Bergman, Ted Williams, Curt Gowdy, Ernest Hemmingway and others -- names undoubtedly familiar with the gray-haired anglers.
On his plaque were the following words: "Inducted Legendary Angler, Charles Lahey, 2010, Massachusetts: Charles is a great example of the high ethical standards consonant with the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. Charles prefers to walk and move from place to place while trout fishing even at age 100! He was acknowledged on the "Today" television show for his legendary fly fishing reputation. He has created a special fly to fish the Mad River in Vermont. His flies have legendary popularity in the waters of the famed Berkshires."
Charlie passed away in 2011, just days before his 102nd birthday.
Talk about a unique place. On the seven-acre museum complex grounds is a giant sculpture of a muskellunge, one-half city block long and four and one-half stories tall. Its gaping, open jaw accommodates about 20 people. There were many different giant freshwater fish sculptures also there.
One of the most interesting parts of the museum for me, and perhaps for anglers of my generation, was a the adjacent four-building museum complex housing over 50,000 sportfishing historical and vintage artifacts such as lures, rods, reels, plugs, ice fishing stuff, fly fishing equipment and accessories. There are over 300 mounted fish and about 1,000 antique motors on display, some of which date back to 1917. Talk about a nostalgic trip into yesteryear.
One could easily spend a whole day in those buildings alone looking at the old equipment and reminiscing about fishing days not thought about in years. There was one old boat motor circa 1950s that particularly caught my attention, and prompted a comment that I spent more time tugging on the starter rope than the motor actually ran. That prompted chuckles from a few other older anglers who overheard me and apparently had similar experiences.
We had a wonderful time in that place. The boat tour through the Apostle Islands was also very enjoyable. If you are ever in Wisconsin, I recommend that you visit these places. It's a long drive, and you might want to stop for something to eat ... at The River's Edge Diner in Saukville.
The Cheshire Rod and Gun Club drew its Summer Sizzler Raffle winners last Sunday. Winners were: First Prize/Truckload of Goodies -- Kelly Wick; Second Prize -- Dick Walsh, Third Prize -- Dan Paciorek of Adams, Fourth Prize -- Brian Trudeau of Cheshire and Fifth Prize -- Ken Hodgdon of Adams.
First-time license buyers in Massachusetts are required to show proof that they have taken a basic hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting or sporting license. They can also fill out a course notification form, and they will be notified by email when a course is scheduled in their areas. Basic hunter education courses average 15 hours in length and are taught by volunteer instructors. Students must attend all scheduled sessions as part of the requirement for passing the course.
Students who successfully pass the course receive a Certificate of Completion that is accepted for purchasing a Massachusetts hunting or sporting license, and for Massachusetts residents 15 years old and over to apply for a firearms license with their local police departments. If they lost their certificates from years past, they may obtain a duplicate certificate from the Hunter Education Program by filling out a form or by contacting the Hunter Education office directly at (978) 772-0693.
Local upcoming courses are as follows: Worthington Rod & Gun Club -- July 29-Aug. 2 from 5:30-9 p.m.; Great Barrington Fish & Game Club -- August 6 and 8 from 6-9 p.m. and August 10 from 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Lee Sportsmen's Club -- August 26-27 from 6-9:30 p.m., and Sept. 7 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. To enroll in a course, call the above number.
To reach Gene Chague:
or (413) 637-1818.