MINOCQUA - Fishing tourism puts money in many pocketbooks in the Northwoods. For those who depend on that revenue lowered walleye bag limits are a big concern.
Both the DNR and local Chippewa tribes say they want a better agreement when it comes to walleye and managing resources. Until that happens though, towns that depend on fishing tourism could take a hit.
The links between the lakes and the economy are complicated to say the least. Still for fishing guides like Russ and Jake Smith of Minocqua, the conditions of the lakes and the populations of fish have a clear economic impact.
"I can remember when all the motels were full," said Russ Smith, "And all the bait shops were very busyů restaurants. It's a snowballing effect. It affects everybody when the fish population and the bag limits are down and people go other places."
The science of caring for fisheries is much more complicated. Life would be easy if the lakes held an unlimited number of walleye. But DNR fisheries expert John Kubisiak knows those desires can't always be met.
"You can make some changes and some tweaks to it, and you can change which species is dominant in a lake, if you push hard enough, but the basic parameters, the basic ability of a lake to sustain fish populations is finite. It's not unlimited."
Kubisiak says lake ecosystems change. There are dozens of reasons why: weather patterns, temperatures, quality of vegetation, number and balance of other predatory fish, shoreline development, and the introduction of non-native species all have an affect.
Economies can change though, and the people of the Northwoods are resilient.
For guides like the Smiths, walleye aren't their only target. "Pike, perch, crappie, musky, and small mouth bass, and sometimes we take some real little kids out for bluegill and panfish too," says Jack Smith.
ST. GERMAIN - A school bus doesn't feature a lot of amenities. Seats, windows, and that's about it. But a company out of St. Germain thinks buses, and other big vehicles, make the perfect kitchens.
Caged Crow Fabrication is owned by Josh Romaker. He┬ámoved to the Northwoods about three years ago. Around the same time a woman in Madison approached him to help refurbish an old camper. He decided to make it into a food truck instead.
"We took on the challenge and that first build was featured on US Today and some magazines and our phone just started ringing. We've got them in Denver, Salt Lake City, New Jersey," said Romaker.
That was just the beginning for Romaker's company, Caged Crow Fabrication in St. Germain. They now specialize in food trucks of all kinds.
"If a customer wants a food truck that looks like a barn or a steam train or a school bus conversion, we really stick to the unique food truck builds," said Romaker.
The 1982 bus that Caged Crow Fabrication is working on now will be complete in a little over a month. The team made up of just a few workers has one rule- they never build the same thing twice. And they take their time.
"We have a sign on the wall here that says 'quality over quantity'. I think our reputation right now is really based on the attention to detail and I think we want to keep that up," said Romaker.
If you're interested in checking out more work from Caged Crow Fabrication, follow the link below.
WAUSAU AREA - Organizations in the greater Wausau area set up funds remembering and honoring the victims of Wednesday's shootings.
A Marathon Savings Bank fund will support the families of the two bank employees shot. Dianne Look had worked at Marathon Savings Bank for almost 19 years, and Karen Barclay had been there for more than six years.
WASHINGTON - UPDATE: 3-24-17, 4:00pm: Ryan bemoans collapse of health care bill:
Speaker Paul Ryan says the collapse of the House Republican health care bill means former President Barack Obama's health care law will be around for the foreseeable future.
The Wisconsin Republican addressed reporters minutes after GOP leaders abruptly shelved the legislation, averted likely defeat for the bill. But it still dealt a damaging setback to President Donald Trump, Ryan and an entire party that has long said it wants to annul Obama's statute.
MARATHON COUNTY - The suspect in a Wisconsin shooting spree that left four people dead has been identified, and court records show one of the victims was his wife's divorce lawyer.
A person close to the investigation identified the suspect Friday as 45-year old Nengmy Vang. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the person wasn't authorized to speak ahead of authorities officially identifying Vang.
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