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A Pumpkinseed Sunfish is the catch of the day

GAYS MILLS - The Schendel-Dremsa clan can officially say we are a true blue Wisconsinite family now that we’ve embarked on a second Northwood’s vacay. 

This time, we had little Waylee Bopper on the outside and had in-tow a cousin, her partner, her son and my Aunt Hiedi as well. 

We took a different route for accommodations this year, opting to take on the new craze of the Air BnB. 

It seems like when you have two kids; the idea of prepping for a small vacation falls to the wayside, so luckily we were not taking off until the afternoon on Thursday. This provided ample time to shovel copious amounts of clean underwear and onesies into a suitcase. Chasca has finally started opting to pack his own bag these days. I sort of wonder if it is because I tend to pack 10 pairs of boxers, but only two t-shirts for him when I’m in charge. 

Either way, Thursday around 12:30 p.m. we were off, kind of. We got the kids loaded, the stuff loaded and ourselves loaded all in Chasca’s red Volkswagen Sport wagon. We had to make a stop in Viola to hook up with the family and load the beanbag boards on top, leaving us looking like modern day Beverly Hillbillies in a convoy out of town. 

The drive up to Hayward isn’t so bad, a tad bit boring if you’re me. Luckily, both kids conked out about an hour in and I was left with some peace and quiet to read Michelle Obama’s biography that I had found in the Little Free Library. 

The odd thing about taking the 70-mile-per-hour interstate to Hayward is that there are no signs saying how many miles it is to the Musky capital. So, I decided to check the trusty Google maps GPS. 

“Ahh, only an hour left!”- I thought to myself satisfied.

“WHAAAAAAHHHHHHH! WAH WAH WAHHHHHH MA MA MA!”- Waylon started singing the song of his angry infant people. 

“Hurry, play some baby sleep music to make him happy,” Chasca commands with a tone of desperation. 

I quickly plug my phone into the AUX cord and conjure up ‘Baby Beluga,’ which didn’t satisfy the little bellowing monster in the backseat.

I tried going through the list of different mellow music, still not satisfying the screaming little beast.

Suddenly, Chasca took a hold of the situation and turned on some Metallica. Which, immediately brought peace to the little guy and satisfaction to his rockin’ daddy as well. 

We arrived late in the evening to our fancy home and enjoyed a few beers before hitting the proverbial hay. 

The next day, following a massive breakfast we were ready to fish our hearts out.

Once again we loaded the whole gang up and set off in the convoy to find a kid friendly location. Luckily, Hannah had scooped several places on the map, DNR website and experience from last year so she was able to quickly direct us to a well-built handicap accessible pier, which was designed for the Fishing Has No Boundaries program. Making it a perfect and safe set up for a busy toddler. 

Once we arrived, Thatcher immediately became a turd though-as toddlers do. He refused to listen to direction to wear his life jacket and was trying to chase and play with another little kid who was busy peeing off of the dock-but also wearing his life jacket.  This resulted in a brief time out back into the car, including the classic kicking-and-screaming-sideways carry executed by yours truly. 

As he gets older, the timeouts are getting more effective and he only needed to sit for a couple of minutes before he poked his head out as cheery as can be and exclaimed “I’m ready to listen MA!” and put on his life jacket and ate a banana on his way back to his Spiderman fishing pole.  

Thatcher, a Kickapoogian at heart, has been bound and determined to catch a suckerfish. So determined, that we didn't have the heart to tell him that neither the Chippewa Flowage nor Round Lake, where we were casting our worms, had any sucker-fish. So when his little bobber went under and he screamed 

“Watch this! Im’ma catch me a sucker fish!” We just cheered him on as he reeled slow and steady, his little pole bending all the while. What he pulled up was no suckerfish, just a large beautiful Pumpkinseed Sunfish. Arguably one of the more beautiful pan fish Wisconsin has to offer.  

“It’s a keeper! Get the STRING!” he demanded, satisfied with his bounty and seeming to forget completely about that old suckerfish he’s had on the brain.  

That one little sunfish satisfied the lad for the rest of the trip, while we continued to catch blue gill after blue gill and one bass between the lot of us, Thatcher was completely satisfied harassing the minnows out of the bucket and swiping a dirty finger down the side of each one of our caught fish.  

Not to be forgotten, was Wailing Waylon, who in the true fashion of a newly turned seven-month-old, slept most of the time and hung out with his loving Aunt Hiedi who decided the only excitement she needed was sitting on the screened in porch and watching the boats go by. 

A good time was certainly had by all in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin.