Refreshing zephyrs glide off freshwater lochs and onto SkipperBud's, an all-purpose marina on the shores of Lake Mendota. New and used boats from high-end brands such as Starcraft and Sea Ray bob beside the sprawling facilities, where savvy salespeople bring decades of know-how to the 40-year-old company. Engine parts, safety tackle, and watersports equipment are also on hand, as are adept boat mechanics trained to tinker on most boat models and engine types. Indoor storage facilities fend off the icy barks of Old Man Winter, and, in the summer, make for easy access to Lake Mendota's launch points.
Blue Ribbon Outdoors' expert anglers brave the elements to lead groups on fun, unforgettable ice fishing trips on the Madison Chain of Lakes. You and a group of up to five friends tote included poles and equipment to a shack that, like a speed dating table, is arranged depending on what kind of species you’re trying to catch. One-day trips include transportation to and from the shack, and general instruction on ice fishing techniques. Guides also lead groups of up to eight on full-day ice angling adventures within the toasty confines of a portable heated shack. Lines attached to baited hooks or wads of chewing gum lower into holes in the ice to snag popular species such as panfish, walleye, and pike. Guided trips include all equipment and bait, as well as fish cleaning at the end of the day.
The sudden roar of gunfire rolls over Richmond Hunting Club's facilities, which sprawl across 850 untamed acres. The club's location nearly adjacent to Chain O' Lakes State Park draws sportspeople of all levels who can spend time shooting skeet, boarding a loyal hunting dog at the onsite kennel, paintballing, or stocking up on ammo at the pro shop. Outdoorsy folks who frequent the club often tie up their mountain goat outside and congregate inside the Bar & Grill, refueling weary trigger fingers with buffalo burgers and pheasant pot pies in a classic hunting-lodge setting.
Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.
No ski lessons. No beginners allowed. All ungroomed terrain. Averaging 273 inches per year, Mount Bohemia is a snow-covered haven for seasoned skiers, eschewing bunny slopes for 500-plus acres with two chair lifts filled with 90 runs—most of which are rated for experts. The mountain's 900-foot vertical drop, noted for being the tallest in the midwest, has won it many fans, including MSN Travel, which named it on its list of 10 Undiscovered Ski Spots in 2006. They were also rated number one for best powder skiing east of the rockies by Powder Magazine.
Champion angler John Angel knows the best spots to find large schools of largemouth and smallmouth bass throughout the scenic waterways of Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. During fishing trips, he escorts groups to these prime locales aboard his trusty 22-foot pro erNitro bass boat, fully loaded with poles and artificial lures for use. Excursions range from a half-day on the water up to multiple-day trips, complete with transportation, gas, lodging, and meals included.