Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

I met the nicest young man Wednesday morning.
His name is Jackson Bonsall. He's from West Salem and I might say Jackson, 13, is quite a fisherman. In fact, he caught the first "keeper" sunfish of the day off Ol' Tom's boathouse.
Jackson is a friend of "Junior," Ol's Tom's son, who owns the boathouse after his dad died five years ago.
Junior and I fish off the boathouse at least once a week, despite relatively poor success this year. However, Jackson had the magic touch on Wednesday.
While Junior and I don't actually care about how many fish we catch, it's refreshing to welcome a new face into our morning gab sessions and reminiscing. On Wednesday, Junior and I did more listening than talking. Needless to say, we learned quite a bit about our new fishing buddy.
We learned Jackson, an eight grader at West Salem this fall, is also quite an athlete, enjoying a very successful summer baseball season on the West Salem youth team. He is also well-versed in all sorts of sports from high school, college and the pro level.
We also learned Jackson enjoys fishing on Lake Neshonoc in West Salem where his grandparents have a lakeside cabin and dock. Jackson told us he often catches enough panfish and catfish right off the dock.
After visiting with Jackson for a couple of hours, I realized why some older people don't understand or appreciate our general youth population of today. They simply won't take the time to listen. Those adults can say all they want about today's youth, but Jackson definitely left me walking away with a positive feeling.
Thanks, Jackson. Hurry back. You're welcome anytime. You brighten our day.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, patrolled a very busy Mississippi River leading up to and on the Fourth of July.
Despite the cancellation of events in the area, more boats and PWCs were observed than in years past. PWC violations were encountered more frequently than all other safety violations. A PWC operator was arrested for BWI.
A disabled boat was towed back to shore after the operator hit a wing dam.  DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, reports a busy boating week on the river. A swimmer drowned on the Mississippi River in Winona.
Hemker received many nuisance wild animal complaints including deer, rattlesnakes, milk snakes, a bobcat, coyote and eagle. A person who was wanting to return to Illinois watched a rattlesnake crawl up into her undercarriage of the car. After harassing it with water to move to a reachable location, Hemker was able to remove it from the engine compartment and relocate it.DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, worked mainly boat and water enforcement over the busy holiday weekend. Time was spent working with deputies. Several minor consumption and boat and water related issues were addressed.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.


Scott Gartner

Island Outdoors on French Island

Fishing has been fair. Everything is biting!
You'll find fish in the shady cooler parts of the river. Clean water is key! The water is coming down once again, so be on the lookout for new structures.
Stay hydrated and be safe out there while cooling down.
There are many recreational boaters out and about enjoying the river.
Stop by Island Outdoors and get your baits! Have a good day! - Team Island Outdoors.

Scott Gartner, owner of Island Outdoors on French Island. 

Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

It's time that goldfinches will be nesting if they haven't already started.  
Usually mid-July/August is their nesting season, mostly because their favorite foods are readily available for feeding and for nesting material.  
Here are some facts about goldfinches:
* Diet - Mostly seeds, some insects. Diet is primarily seeds, especially those of the daisy (composite) family, also those of weeds and grasses, and small seeds of trees such as elm, birch, and alder.
Also eats buds, bark of young twigs, maple sap. Feeds on insects to a limited extent in summer. Young are fed regurgitated matter mostly made up of seeds.
* Nesting - Nesting begins late in season in many areas, with most nesting activity during July and August.
In courtship, male performs fluttering flight display while singing.
* Nest - Usually in deciduous shrubs or trees, sometimes in conifers or in dense weeds, usually less than 30 feet above the ground and placed in horizontal or upright fork. Nest (built by female) is a solid, compact cup of plant fibers, spider webs, plant down (especially from thistles); nest is so well-made that it may even hold water.
* Eggs - 4-6, sometimes 2-7. Pale bluish white, occasionally with light brown spots. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days. Male feeds female during incubation.
* Young - Both parents feed nestlings. At first male brings food, female gives it to young; then both parents feed; role of female gradually declines, so that male may provide most food in later stages. Young leave nest about 11-17 days after hatching.
We had quite a few babies brought to our feeders after they fledged.  It was quite noisy and we added an additional feeder to keep them from "fighting".  
Remember, goldfinches prefer FRESH seeds so make sure you have good Nyger or finch mix. Stay away from "goldfinch blends" as they have seeds (fillers) they don't even eat.
Wild Birds Unlimited sells fresh seed. We have Nyger and our finch mix is made up of equal parts of Nyger and fine sunflower chips. Stop in and see us and we'll help you pick the right blend for your birds.
Please, folks, with this hot weather be sure you are refreshing your bird baths daily, and the nectar feeder should be refreshed every other day to avoid it from becoming sour and moldy. Also, check your feeders for any mold with the high humidity and rain we have had. Clean is BEST.
Happy Birding,
Karen Perry, Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, WI, 608-781-5088


Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Insects own July, sometimes competing for a place to land or crawl on our arms and legs.
Others, or imitations of them, may help catch a trout, bass or bluegill.
Many insects eat what we eat or what gardens are planted to grow.  Still other six-legged animals assist plants in getting a squash, cucumber, raspberry or apple fruit to grow from a flower.
Many bugs are just plain interesting to watch, photograph, or attract closer to plants that we like. Some bugs help in decomposing organic matter or pester the deer we are watching, maybe making for a more interesting photograph as they struggle, as we do, to keep the critters out of our hair.
Not all insects react to all people the same, which often leads to disagreement as to the best bug-don’t-bother-me concoctions.
“Wisconsin has about 60 kinds of mosquitoes,” said P.J. Liesch, at the University of Wisconsin Insect Diagnostic Laboratory on the Madison campus. “Some people just seem to be more attractive to certain insects, but usually it’s more complicated than that, all the way down to which microbes are living on us, maybe at that moment.”
Repellents don’t usually work well against all insects, either.  Some, such as IcyHot and Buggins, may work for buffalo gnats but not for mosquitoes, for example.
Bret Schultz, who tries to be on the water almost every day from January through mid-October, uses vanilla extract until the gnats become too problematic and he has to turn to Buggins or eventually an Off product.
Insects also bug some outsiders because the insect is unusual, beautiful, seemingly creative or misunderstood.
Liesch is stuck on many local, and faraway insects, including one he’s never seen in a live state.
“Ice crawlers live in high elevations, mountain tops and surfaces of glaciers and cannot stand high temperatures, and die if we would place one in our hand," he said.
Butterflies go well with flowering prairie plants about now. Usually they are most active as the day warms and vegetation dries.   
Purple-blue bee balm is almost everywhere now and butterflies and bees don’t have to fly far.
The goldenrod gall fly has already laid eggs on plants’ stems and the larvae have burrowed into the tissue. It will be there all winter, unless a woodpecker finds it before an ice fisherman takes it for bait. No need to harvest them now. Just locate good patches of infested goldenrod and wait for winter.
Some pollinating bumblebees coax the plants’ anthers to release pollen by buzz pollination. Very rapid muscle vibration causes pollen release in tomatoes, potatoes and their relatives, as well as prairie shooting stars.
This buzz process causes a sound, helping us to find the pollen-collecting insects by listening for the buzzing as a bee enters a flower. The bumblebee doesn’t buzz until it’s on the flower.  
Loads of pollen can usually be seen on the bumblebee’s body as it hoards up to head home. As a result, accidents happen and some pollen gets spilled from flower to flower.
Insects have already done their job of pollination in black raspberries and blackberries. Wild blackcaps continue to ripen, initiated by pollination and plant fertilization weeks ago.
Pickers are rarely alone in berry patches, with some animals being heard and not seen, but when a doe and fawn bound away, their food patch is revealed.
Turkey poults are old enough to fly, some as large as grouse, so listen to the hen giving an assembly call to gather the troops after the disturbance calms. Turkeys may never be seen, only heard.
For flyfish anglers, July is one of the toughest warm weather months, but can make fishing simple, too.
“For underwater fishing, if I could carry only one fly it would be a scud,” Schultz said. “I’m trying to imitate a nymph insect form.”
If Schultz gets some cloudy or rainy weather, he might go to an olive black woolly bugger if he still wanted to stay beneath the water.
“Everything else is terrestrial-based, surface insects. Fish see ants all day long near the bank where they fall into the water," he said. "I also plop beetles, baby hoppers and small crickets.”
If trout are feeding, Schultz puts an ant along the stream edge, but if no feeding is occurring, he’ll slap a fly of the other three imitations along the bank to get the trout’s attention.
Keep watching for any new fall regulations in waterfowl, upland game and deer hunting .
Raspberry picking should continue for a couple weeks, and end about the time blackberries are black.
Garden insects might be brutal on potatoes with the heat. Japanese beetles and Colorado potato beetles control begins with immediate hand picking and soapy water disposal with a touch of bleach added.
As darkness falls, watch for fireflies (pictured) and then check the areas the next morning to find a firefly with its light out. It’s possible when knowing what clues to look for.
Don’t forget the morning coolness and daytime shade to make some activities more enjoyable.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112