“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near McFarland in Dane County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Seasons of Fish Camp

Seasons of Fish Camp Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, October 16, 2011
1. Seasons of Fish Camp Marker
Inscription. McFarland's Fish Camp never slept. In good and bad weather, there were carp to catch. If fishing conditions were impossible, equipment and personal gear needed repair. Crews also fed carp in the holding pen or drove loads of fish to the railroad station.


[Caption for photo:] Barge and crew leave Fish Camp for a day of seining in 1959.

Soon after lake ice thawed, large numbers of massing carp could be caught in a single haul. But early spring weather was unpredictable. Sometimes the crew returned to camp wet and close to hypothermia.


[Caption for photo:] Using an electric fence at Fish Camp's holding pen, August 1938.

Though carp spawned from April to August, summer was not ideal for seining fish. Nets could not be easily pulled through thick plants, and carp were less predictable in warm water. Summer seining caught small, newly hatched fingerlings.


[Caption for photo:]Moving rough fish caught in the seine net (in front) to the crib (background).

Fall was peak seining season, as fish moved into shallows to feed before freeze-up. Single hauls of fish could top 100,000 pounds. When carp schooled together in fall, crews seined them intensively, placing them in holding pens so they could continue fishing.


Seasons of Fish Camp Marker image. Click for full size.
By William J. Toman, October 16, 2011
2. Seasons of Fish Camp Marker
Lake Kegonsa is in the background.
for photo:]
Cutting a 20-ft. x 30-ft. landing hole for a seine net at Lake Muskego in 1941.

In winter, some Fish Camp crew members left McFarland to catch carp under the ice at lakes such as Winnebago and Koshkonong. Others harvested carp in the Rock, Bark or Crawfish rivers, where fish concentrated in winter. With nets placed upstream and downstream of the school, carp could then be seined.

Fishing Challenge: Open Water vs. Ice

[Open Water] Pros

+larger amounts of fish can be harvested
+in good weather, conditions are ideal

and Cons
-spring and fall water temperatures are cold
-large lakes are dangerous in wind

[Ice] Pros
+trucks and winches could be placed on the ice
+fish easier to catch because schools are less active

and Cons
-setting and pulling nets under ice is difficult
-takes time to find carp schools through a layer of ice and snow

All photos courtesy of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Erected by Dane County Parks.
Location. 42° 58.94′ N, 89° 15.842′ W. Marker is near McFarland, Wisconsin, in Dane County. Marker can be reached from Fish Camp Road 0.4 miles east of County Highway AB, on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mc Farland WI 53558, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Carp for sale (a few steps from this marker); Too many carp (within shouting distance of this marker); All about nets (within shouting distance of this marker); How to catch 30,000 carp (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Working at Fish Camp (about 400 feet away); Fish Camp Launch (about 500 feet away); Robert Marion La Follette, Sr. (approx. 2.5 miles away); Village of McFarland (approx. 2.5 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in McFarland.
Categories. Industry & Commerce
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by William J. Toman of Green Lake, Wisconsin. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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