Fishing & Boating in the Northwoods

Ripon, Princeton, Green Lake and a Bison Farm


I awoke Saturday morning just before sun-up. The morning light shimmered across the lake, but some clouds had started to move in, painting the morning sky serene and musty gray in color. We took our time in getting dressed. After all, this was a weekend getaway and the huge terrycloth robes were warm and luxurious. No need to rush. Our plan for the day was to head over to Ripon and check out a few sights. It was only a 10-minute drive from the resort.

After breakfast and a short conversation with, and very warm welcome from Chad – the Director of Marketing for the Heidel House – we set out on a little discovery tour. We first drove about ten miles west on Route 23, passing the roughly 1800-acre conference facility known as Lawsonia, complete with its 36 holes of golf.

The Town of Green Lake

Arriving in Princeton, a town of about 1500 people, I quickly discovered that the business district was quite small and consisted mostly of some small boutique-like shops, antique stores and about a dozen taverns. Although it seemed as if it would be worth a walk down the main street, I wasn’t into antiquing today, so we headed back to Green Lake to check out the business district there.
The town of Green Lake, Wisconsin is not much bigger than I remember it, at least from what little a 10-year old can remember! But it is very much what one might imagine a resort town to be like. There is a small park with a lagoon – it looked to be great place for skating or fishing. The two main streets were Mill and Hill and at the southwest corner of that intersection there sits a very old but stately courthouse.

Just across the street to the south are a family restaurant, confectionary and small boutique. To the east there are several other small shops, a tempting restaurant called Harbor Lights and a couple of real estate offices. To the north, a small café and another real estate office. At the south end of Mill Street is the North Bay Sport and Liquor Store.

It seemed to be very well stocked with all the necessary sporting and, shall we say, after-sporting, needs. The population of Green Lake is only about 1200 but I can guarantee you a much larger number in the middle of summer! We did stop for a beer at the Goose Blind, a very nice local restaurant and bar where a brief conversation with the bartender on duty made us feel right at home. Make a note to stop in for the Friday Fish Special if you’re in town!

white school house

Ripon and The Republican Party

Ripon could almost be a twin city to Green Lake, except that it was a tad bigger in terms of the population and boasted many more shops and even a few chain-type grocery stores. It is also the home of Ripon College, so one would expect more offerings. We made a stop in town at a house called “the little white schoolhouse”.

From the sign out front I read: “In 1852, Alvan Earle Bovay of Ripon met with Horace Greeley in New York and advocated dissolution of the Whig party and formation of a new party to fuse together anti-slavery elements.” With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill – introduced by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas in January of 1854 – Bovay called a meeting of 53 Whig, Free Soiler, and Democrat voters in the little white schoolhouse to organize the new party.

Although the name Republican was officially adopted at a convention in Pittsburgh on February 22nd of 1856, that little white schoolhouse was the official birthplace of the Republican Party on March 20th, 1854. Little twinges of patriotism swelled up in me as we drove away and headed toward our next stop.

cookie outlet store sign

Ripon & a Great Little Cookie

In short order, we arrive at the Rippin’ Good Cookie Factory Outlet. Upon entering, all one can see is rows upon rows of shelves and boxes piled high with every imaginable variety of cookie.
The place was suddenly alive with folks who appeared to have not had a cookie in about twenty years – munching on every sample available. I believe it would be next to impossible for anyone to leave without buying something. And we couldn’t resist, either! We only spent about $10 and got enough cookies to last – and I’m not kidding – ‘til next July! But it was a lot of fun and the cookies and crackers were very good.

large bison

Bison Farm

We had planned for one last stop before returning to the Heidel House, where a sauna and shower were waiting before dinner. So, we headed out of Ripon in search of a buffalo farm. (We really wanted to visit the Larson Clydesdale Farm in Ripon, but unfortunately the place was closed until spring.)

I’m not really sure how we managed to find the buffalo farm. We had no idea where it was and directions from a local resident at a gas station were shaky at best. But we did stumble upon it, south of Route 23 and about halfway between Ripon and Green Lake, only to find out that it too was closed for the season.

We did get a chance to have a brief conversation with the owner – a very nice and obliging fellow, considering he came down his driveway to find a strange out-of-state car parked there, taking pictures of his buffalo herd! I promised myself that I would definitely return when the place is open. They even have buffalo meat for sale!

We did find another Buffalo / Bison Ranch, near Rice Lake, Wisconsin on later excursion and enjoyed a marvelous tour, followed by a Bison burger for lunch afterward!
We finally headed back to the resort where we took a short stroll along the lakefront. I can only imagine how the scene and the colors would change with the seasons!


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R. Karl

Angler, Author & Epicure

Fishing since the age of eight.  Seriously writing since the age of 16. Chef and foodie from the age of 22 years… and counting. So much to learn and so little time. I have enjoyed every minute of it all.  Whether on the water (where I like it best), in the kitchen, or at the keyboard, churning out content, I feel like I have found my place.  I am sharing it with you in the hope that some of what I love to do will rub off on you. I hope to see you On the Lake!

R. Karl