JVG_210716_PECK

Kyle Allen with a walleye caught on Mai Lake in Chippewa County.

Lee Christenson is a Wisconsin entrepreneur who wears many hats.

One of his favorites has “benevolent visionary” hidden in small cammo script hidden in a prevailing pattern of Mossy Oak.

Christenson is on a one-man mission to help wounded and homeless warriors heal and disadvantaged kids learn the joys of fishing at a 400-acre plus private lake in the wilds of Chippewa County.

Mai Lake is a designated fish hatchery, qualifying for certain exemptions beyond the jurisdiction of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

This doesn’t set well with a few of this agency’s top-level bureaucrats who would regulate the air we breathe from their castle in Madison if they could find a way.

Christenson’ s dream to create a safe haven for disadvantaged fishers is somewhat hobbled by government snares and red tape. But his vision is slowly becoming realized anyway.

I won’t say Mai Lake is the best walleye and perch water I’ve ever fished. But looking back over the decades, I can’t recall any place that’s better. Sharing a pontoon boat with old friends Kyle Allen and Dave Dvorak made the experience even sweeter.

On our second day of fishing here, the plan was to stop for shore lunch about 5 p.m., and then get back on the water at dusk—prime time for walleyes. But after these three old dogs wolfed down fresh caught perch at a rate beyond hungry-seagull level, we were too tuckered out to take the pontoon out 100 yards from the beach and catch more fish.

Christenson told us the fishing would be tougher than usual because he had just dumped a semi load of fathead minnows in the lake. Walleyes and perch couldn’t tell the difference between live minnows and soft plastics—or maybe they didn’t care.

There were several times when one of us would make four or five casts without setting the hook.

Our mission became trying to find a bait that wouldn’t catch fish. This task wasn’t easy.

Dave and Kyle are outstanding anglers. They could both catch fish out of a bucket full of muddy water.

We don’t agree on much. Solid friendship tends to drive a mutual chop-busting dialog.

But we were all in emphatic harmony with Lee Christenson’s dream to make this an easily accessible dream for America’s heroes and those with special needs.

Few things in life are more rewarding than helping others discover the joy of catching fish. Sharing the dream is living the dream.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at tedpeck@acegroup.cc

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