The fishermen leave for the opening

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Gunnar Kvisstad, a sixth grader at Marion Primary School, fishes from a dock at Pella Pond May 7 in Pella. Kvisstad was one of thousands of anglers heading out on day one of the Wisconsin inland fishery opening. Photo by Greg Seubert

Inland fishing season begins May 7

By Greg Seubert


Shawano Lake and the Wolf River come to mind as two of Shawano County’s popular fishing destinations.

Gunnar Kvisstad had something else in mind, however.

The 12-year-old Marion Elementary sixth-grader rose early on May 7 for the first day of Wisconsin’s inland fishing season, grabbed his fishing rod and a handful of minnows which he had caught in a stream near his home and headed for the landing stage at Pella Pond.

The Pond is a 49-acre lake created by a dam on the Embarrass River in the Shawano County community of Pella, midway between Marion and Shawano.

While the Shawano Lake landings were filled with vehicles, boats and trailers, Kvisstad had part of the Old Mill Park pond all to itself.

“It’s quiet and I can just relax,” he said. “I was here at 6:30.”

He returned to the wharf after fishing after school the day before.

“Yesterday I caught a north on a minnow,” he said. “I was here alone, but sometimes I go out on our boat with my father and my mother. We catch bass, crappie.

Mark Schraufnagel, an MNR conservation director based in Shawano, showed up at the landing to see how Kvistad was doing.

“I check sturgeon sites, I check trout sites,” he said. “A lot is going on. There are going to be a lot of people today because we finally had good weather.

Activity near the dam began to pick up around 8 a.m. when several people stopped along the road to see lake sturgeon spawning in the river below the dam.

Small town ponds

Shawano County is home to a number of small town ponds on the Embarrass River and its branches, including ponds in Caroline, Leopolis, and Tilleda.

“These are actually quite productive fisheries and these little ponds mean a lot to these local communities,” Schraufnagel said. “There is a bit of everything. You have your panfish, you have your gamefish, a nice variety.

“Pella did a good job with that,” he said. “They have a pier here that you can fish from and they have a fishing platform over there. (The Embarrass) is not listed as trout water below the dam, but there are trout in there that people will catch. Right now it’s pretty neat because you can see the sturgeon. The suckers will move in and there will also be a lot of guys fishing for them.

According to Schraufnagel, the pond’s water level was recently lowered for dam repairs.
“They got the water down here, so we’ll see how it goes,” he said. “They try to do it slowly so the fish can smell it and swim upstream.”

Kvisstad returned home at 10 a.m. with no fish to show for his effort, but said he would be back later.

About 20 miles northwest of Pella, Kaukauna’s Luke Schmidt and his friends fished for trout on Homme Pond, a holding pond in the Middle Branch of the Embarrass just north of Wittenberg.

“A group of friends and I have been getting together every opening day for about five years,” he said. “We’ve always called it Trout Club. We will be fishing a bunch of local streams and grilling later in the day.

The group had several rainbow trout and a brook trout on the ice before noon.

“It’s been pretty good,” Schmidt said. “You keep moving and moving. We’ve been on a number of streams this morning.

The opening of the inland fishery isn’t as big as the nine-day white-tailed deer season opening weekend, but Schmidt said the first Saturday in May is still a big deal.

“We are looking forward to it,” he said. “Winter is getting long.”

“Opening weekend has that tradition for a lot of families, whether it’s trout fishing, walleye fishing or whatever,” Schraufnagel said. “It’s not quite the same as the nine days, but it’s up there.”

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