Teenager wraps up 200-day streak
By Greg Seubert
Finding a way to kill time during her sister’s soccer practices turned into a big deal for Aubrey Raddatz.
Armed with their fishing poles, the 13-year-old Amherst Middle School seventh-grader and her father, Timm, would head to the Tomorrow River in Amherst to fish for trout or whatever was biting at the time.
That was in April and started Aubrey’s string of 200 consecutive days of fishing that ended Nov. 12 with a family outing to Sunset Lake Park in Portage County.
Aubrey didn’t intend to fish every day for more than seven months, but saw an opportunity to do something she’d never forget.
“Eventually, we realized it’s been so many days in a row,” she said. “We just thought it would be fun to see how long we could get it. I wanted to go as long as I can.”
Why 200, she was asked while wrapping up the streak fishing for rainbow trout on Sunset Lake.
“It just works out on a Sunday,” she said. “It’s a good number, a nice, round number.”
Finding time to fish can be difficult at times, especially for a teenager also involved in school and church activities, sports and 4-H.
“It’s been difficult because you have to balance everything,” Aubrey said. “It’s really hard because I have basketball and confirmation. I have something every night.”
Timm figured his daughter caught 18 different species of fish during the streak, including brook, brown and rainbow trout; largemouth and smallmouth bass; walleye; northern pike; tiger musky; yellow perch; black crappie; bluegill; and pumpkinseed.
“We traveled a lot in the summer and we fished 30 different lakes and rivers,” he said. “We try a lot of new places. We especially love trout, so we’ll open the gazetteer book and look for bridges. It’s led to a lot of fun little discoveries of new places to go.”
Aubrey’s fishing destinations this year ranged from small trout streams in the Amherst area to northern Wisconsin lakes around the family’s Vilas County cabin to Madison’s Lake Mendota.
“I have pictures on the camera roll in my phone from every day,” Timm said. “We have a written record of every lake we fished and every different species we caught.”
A fishing family
Being around fish is nothing new for Aubrey and her family.
Timm and his wife, Michelle, operate a fishing lure business, TR Custom Lures, out of their Sunset Lake home.
Aubrey and her sister, Alli, help their parents with the business. The girls also make their own lures and have won blue ribbons for them at fairs in Rosholt and Amherst.
Being close to Sunset Lake helped keep the streak going, according to Timm.
He said about half of Aubrey’s days were spent on the lake.
“After chores, homework and supper, we’d have 10 minutes to fish and come over the boat landing,” he said. “That helped and it also helped that everyone was supportive. My wife’s sister helped out and my wife took her a lot. Everyone just wanted to see it continue.”
Timm and Michelle grew up in fishing families and passed on that passion to their daughters.
“When I grew up, if my dad and I weren’t on a fishing trip, we were planning our next one,” Timm said. “The same with my wife and her father. It’s just the way we grew up, it was part of our lifestyle. It is our family activity.”
Aubrey said she gained plenty of fishing knowledge during the streak.
“I bought my first new rod and reel,” she said. “I used new types of baits and learned how to fish them. Every time you don’t catch a fish, you learn a little bit more. It’s always fun to keep learning.”
“It was fun watching her grow as an angler this summer: her fishing technique, how she handles rods, working lures, fighting fish,” Timm said. “This morning, she caught that giant trout and the reel malfunctioned. We had to adapt and land it without a reel. She had to back up and keep the line tight and we got it.”
That 20-inch rainbow trout came out of Sunset Lake. Aubrey, her family and friends returned to the park later that day to celebrate her achievement.
It wasn’t the biggest fish she landed this year. That honor goes to the 34-inch tiger musky she landed during a trip to the family cabin.
“I was in my pajamas,” Aubrey said. “We saw a splash near shore and I had my spinnerbait that I had been using all day.”
“We had just cooked supper and had s’mores and decided, ‘Hey, let’s go out fishing for a little quick outing,’” Timm said. “When I went to net it, it dove and broke the net.”
Unlike most girls her age, Aubrey has no problem touching the fish she catches.
“I get a little touchy with worms, but I love unhooking fish,” she said.
Aubrey didn’t catch fish every outing, but that was fine with her.
“I don’t get disappointed,” she said. “You’re not going to catch something every time.”
“We learned that fishing doesn’t always equal catching,” Timm said.
Aubrey’s favorite techniques include using topwater baits for bass.
Her favorite species, however, might be trout.
“I like trout streams because of the challenge,” she said. “I like climbing over trees in the river.”
She’s also looking forward to another streak, even longer than 200 days.
“I know lots of people haven’t experienced something like that,” she said. “Not a lot of people can do this.”
“I think she has fished more this year than a lot of average adults in their entire lifetime,” Timm said.
Although her streak is over, Aubrey didn’t want it to end.
“No, I didn’t,” she said. “I wanted to keep fishing.”