WHAT TO DO? What to do? What to do? In this middle part of February, when winter has lost much of its luster for those of us who live in the “great white North,” it’s time to think about things we want to do; that is, want to do anywhere, but here, in the great white North.

It was not always so for me. There were winters in my younger days that I wished winter, at least sort of, would never end. Back then, there was never enough time to ice fish as many times as I wished, never enough time to snowshoe or ski miles upon miles through the backwoods, and never enough time to spend cold winter nights sorting tackle, ordering new tackle and dreaming of tackle I could never afford for the upcoming spring fishing season.

Nowadays, I find myself holed up in my house with more time on my hands than I wish, when it is umpteen degrees below zero, just thinking of places to go and things to do, either now or this coming summer, anytime, anyplace, when and where it is warm.

My wife and I are committed to one trip this summer. In August, we will be heading for Colorado Springs, Colo., where we will take over a bed and breakfast along with a dozen or so of my old UW-Eau Claire cellmates from the 1969 Third East Bridgman Hall.

Over the years, about 20 of us have kept in close contact and have shared several get togethers, we don’t call them reunions, many of them in what has become our favorite go-to place right here in north Wisconsin.

This year, we will have Pikes Peak to welcome us each day when we get up. I have driven through Colorado Springs once before, but this time, if I do nothing else, I am going to make the trip to the summit of Pikes Peak a must do. Our visit will span just three days, but in that time, I hope to walk across Royal Gorge Bridge, almost 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River, along with any other mountain seeing I can cram into such a short period of time.

But before our Colorado trip, there will be others, as this year, my wife and I have vowed to use the camper we bought last spring far more than we were able to in 2017.

Since I am one of the unlucky turkey hunters who didn’t draw a Wisconsin tag this year, there will simply have to be a trip to visit the Harmston clan in northwest Illinois. I haven’t killed a gobbler on every trip there, but even when I haven’t, eating Harmston steaks and drinking Greg’s Crown Royal make the trip worth it.

There is the drawback of having to endure the taunts and downright insults from the gang of Illinois boys who are part of my North Dakota duck camp each fall, but when I can hold a 26-pound gobbler under their collective noses, I can usually quiet them down.

Along with the bantering and eating of fine food, there also is the hunting country of that part of Illinois where there are hills twice the size of Musky Mountain, along with gurgling creeks and ponds filled with walleye, bass and panfish, all interwoven with farm fields and woodlots along high ridges or nestled in deep valleys. It is country that in its own way is as fine as what we have right here. The only drawback is that it is in Illinois.

Once we get through April, without question there will be a three- or four-day trip for me, one my wife lets me go solo on each year, over to my favorite part of northwest Wisconsin where I will fish rivers such as the White, Marengo and Namekagon, along with some smaller creeks that shall remain unnamed. I will catch, eat and dream trout once more.

Also without question, we plan on resuming what used to be a tradition of an annual camping trip somewhere along the shore of Lake Superior. Ontario, Canada, was at one time an every other year trip for us, with our favorite hangout being Lake Superior Provincial Park, north of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Call me stubborn, vindictive or just plain dumb, but when two fine countries decided a person needed a passport to cross the border, I decided to boycott Canada. Nothing against Canada mind you, just a rebellion over governments needing a paper to let me fish trout and camp in a country that I knew, loved and to which I traveled to free as a bird for many years.

I’m thinking early June will be the time I finally set that aside and head for the Old Woman, Steel, Sand and other rivers filled with trout that are located within the park.

If not, it’s been quite a spell since I have made a cast into the Temperance River or camped at Tettegouche State Park in Minnesota. The trout there, I can vouch for, are just as tasty as those from the rivers of Canada and though Minnesota’s North Shore is more populated than that of Ontario, it is still wild, beautiful and just beckoning to someone like me.

Of course, there are places closer to home that need a visit as well. On a recent trip over to Gladstone, Mich., on Lake Michigan, I passed through a goodly part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and took note of the signs for various national forest campgrounds over toward Florence, Laona and Wabeno. My wife and I have visited some of those campgrounds and enjoyed them immensely. Not only that, but the trout caught out of rivers like the Peshtigo, Pine, Popple and others taste as good as those from Minnesota and Ontario.

It’s been a while since I roamed the turkey woods near the Peshtigo along Parkway Road and up north toward Highway 8. I never killed a turkey there, but I found hard-fighting, tasty trout in the Peshtigo and smaller streams feeding into it.

Finally, as I sit in my kitchen with a bowl of hot oatmeal on another subzero morning, I warm up a little bit just by knowing that my favorite Vilas County and Upper Peninsula of Michigan campgrounds, and fishing lakes and streams will not be forgotten.

Whether it be trout, bass, northern pike or panfish outings, the fish will be tasty and even were I to not even wet a line, the opportunity to sit around a campfire at a secluded, small state or national forest campground is enough in itself to warm the cockles of one’s heart on a cold winter day. Having said all this I, for one, feel warmer already.