All Work and Some Play


With all the buzz going on in Madison, a fishing event with fellow legislators from both sides of the aisle came along at just the right time. We decided to get some kids from the big city out on the water to teach them how to fish. It turns out there are a few legislators who had never fished before, so we invited them along too.


This week, the Sportsmen’s Caucus held a Learn How to Fish event to teach young kids from Milwaukee how to fish. One of the main reasons we formed Wisconsin’s chapter of the Sportsmen’s Caucus is to strengthen and continue the legacy of hunting and fishing in our state through instruction and legislation. This event gave experienced sportsmen the perfect opportunity to mentor young kids who had never even held a fishing pole before. We taught the kids about the kinds of bait you should use for certain fish, the most suitable weather conditions for fishing and the art of casting and reeling. By the end of the event, it was rewarding to see the look on their faces after the kids successfully pulled in some fish.


For the Learn How to Fish event, we set up shop at a park on Okauchee Lake in Waukesha County. Kids of all ages were brought in by a Unite MKE, a southeast Wisconsin group focused on creating healthy communities and families, and they were eager to grab a fishing pole and hop in a boat. The Department of Natural Resources, legislators, legislative staff members, and other volunteers teamed up to provide life jackets, poles, boats and most importantly, excitement to get the kids started.


Out on the water, a local resident drove several of us by a pontoon boat with Representative Kathy Bernier (R – Lake Hallie) on board helping kids reel in some pan fish. I caught a few little ones and a nice sized bass with a synthetic worm that wriggled around with very little coaxing. However, the conditions were not as favorable for fishing as I would have hoped due to a northeast wind.


“Wind from the east, fish bite the least, wind from the west, the fish bite the best” was the adage that came to mind. When I said it out loud to the people in my boat, I was asked if there was some science behind that or if it was an old fishing wives’ tale. There actually is some science behind the rhyme. When the wind is blowing from the east, it usually indicates that a cold front moved through recently. Cold fronts tend to keep the fish away from the surface of the lake where we cast our lines.


When we got off the lake and back to the park, we arrived just in time to see Representative Nick Milroy (D – South Range) teaching Representative Daniel Riemer (D – Milwaukee) how to filet a fish. The look on Representative Reimer’s face as he held the fish at arm’s length was truly priceless. It sounded like those who fished from the docks near the park had better luck than the people out on the boats. Luckily, between the groups on the boat and the people on the dock, we had some fish to fry up. The best part of the day was seeing how excited the kids were about the fish they caught. One little girl even ran around holding the fish in her hand for people to touch!


While we didn’t snag any monster fish, overall, I’d say that the event was successful. I’m glad that legislators from opposite sides of the aisle could set aside political differences for a day and come together to teach kids how to fish (and have fun doing it). For our colleagues that hadn’t fished before, we made sure they had a pole in their hands and hopefully hooked them into going out to enjoy some of the rich sporting heritage that Wisconsin has to offer. Days like this remind me about what is great about Wisconsin - people coming together to have fun, help others and develop long lasting friendships. Enjoy the rest of your summer and get out and enjoy the great outdoors!