A Great Place to Fish, and Live
BY ANN RUNSTROM, LA CROSSE FWCO
of Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge. Credit: Ann Runstrom, USFWS
What makes a town a great place to live? Many of my friends would include the answer “somewhere near good fishing!” I would agree, an environment that supports healthy populations of fish and wildlife would also be a healthy place for people. So, living next door to a Wildlife and Fish Refuge should mean that at least a healthy environment is nearby. Beyond that, people working together and volunteering their time and talent for their community is what makes a town a great place to live. Friends of the Refuge Headwaters are such a group of people.
On a Saturday in late February, children in the Winona community found “their” refuge a great place to fish. Staff from the La Crosse Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office aided the Friends group and the Refuge in hosting a kids’ ice fishing event at McKnally Landing on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge – Winona District. Ice fishing holes were pre-drilled and waiting when the children arrived. Experienced anglers helped the kids get their tackle and bait set up and then instructed them on how to fish through a hole in the ice.
through the hole in the ice where they chose
to set up their tip-up, checking to ensure their
bait is still active. Credit: Ann Runstrom, USFWS
Numerous ice shacks were in place for protection from the wind and cold and high tech fish finders were utilized to enhance the probability of success. When chilled or hungry, kids could go into the warming tent for some hot chocolate and a snack. The bite was slow, but the result was a good sample of the fish species present. One each of the species northern pike, yellow perch, bluegill and black crappie were brought up through the ice. The kid’s already know this, but “It isn’t the catching, it’s the fishing that is important.” Thanks to the Refuge, the Friends group, and the Winona community for making this town a great place to live and play.