Walter’s Walleye Wangler, Revisited

By K. Woodzick 

I’m not what you would call an outdoorsy person. As a kid, I joined the Girl Scouts for the cookies and immediately quit when I discovered that camping trips were mandatory. I’ve always lived in cities or college towns: Madison, Decorah, Seattle and Boulder. And yet, like many Wisconsinites, I’ve found myself back in my home state.

But instead of moving back to Madison, where I grew up, I moved to northern Wisconsin, where my father was born and raised. I have experienced culture shock in more ways than one. Perhaps the most profound change has been connecting to past generations.

In February, I wrote about my great-uncle Walter and his walleye lure. One of our readers was kind enough to scan a PDF they received that describes “The Wonder Wall-Eye Wangler” in Walter’s own words.

I’ll be honest, not a lot of it makes sense to me. The following line made me chuckle, though:

“The retrieve may be varied, and may be ‘worked.’ Do not use feathers or pork rind, which does no good and kills the proper action.”

I’m a theatre kid living in the outdoor paradise of the Northwoods. It’s bizarre to go from living in places where I was the only one with my last name for hundreds of miles to living in a place where my grandparents each had seven or eight siblings. The stories of my family live up here and it isn’t until recently that I’ve started to uncover them.

It’s National Poetry Month, so here’s a poem for Walter:

Guruman sits on the dock of Lake Katherine.
A fisherman who refuses to get into a boat.
Singularly minded, he waits for the walleye:
His wonder wangler delicately poised in shallow waters.

He is both stranger and family.
Someone to love through newspaper clippings
And stories my father tells at dinnertime.

A pioneer of social distancing:
He disconnected the gas lines at his shop
So that tourists would stop passing by
And he could sleep through the night.

I’ll never meet him.
But we’ll always be connected.


K. Woodzick is a life-long theatre artist and has over a decade of experience as a non-profit marketing professional and writer. They live in Woodruff with their silver lab, River.