Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For June 1st, 2007 Edition.
Occasionally an overwhelming desire strikes me to return to one of my boyhood haunts and do a bit of reminiscing. All too often the location of my past memories has changed over time to the point the area hardly resembles the visions I retain from the distant past.
However, the one I paid an unscheduled stop several days ago has remained virtually unchanged over the past six decades, and that in itself is a minor miracle.
The place of which I speak is what I still call “the ole swimming hole” where Plum Creek flows beneath County Highway C in St. Germain. Numerous folks still often stop there on hot summer days to take a dip in its clear clean waters or ride an inflatable object through the culvert.
The deep hole that was formed on the downstream end of the culvert was at one time a gathering point for youthful male nimrods during the annual spring sucker and redhorse runs. Heavily weighted gobs of angleworms soaked on the bottom of the pool produced great numbers of those bottom feeding bone infested fish.
On days when the feeding was slow we often changed to large weighted treble hooks and snagged the schooled up fish, even though we knew that method was illegal and if the game warden caught us it would be Hades to pay when our parents found out.
My pal, Phil Franke, and I narrowly escaped becoming snagging felons one afternoon when a kind hearted game warden, (I fail to recall which one it was) stopped to check out the two skinny kids sitting on the end of the culvert holding musky rods. Our hearts sank to the pit of our stomachs as the gray uniformed officer stopped his truck and ambled over to see what we were up to. A pail full of suckers with gapping holes in their sides were more than enough to tip off any onlooker at to what we were actually doing.
“Catchin’ any?” was the officer’s first inquiry.
Swallowing a lump in my throat I croaked out a stammering reply. “Ya, we’re catchin’ a few on worms”, as I jabbed a dirty finger in the direction of a dirt filled coffee can on the bank.
The officer smirked as he looked at the pail of suckers. “Worms huh? Well, good luck boys, but next time I stop here to check you out there better not be any treble hooks on the end of your lines!”
With that he waved us a good-bye and drove off.
I don’t think I ever reeled in my line any faster than I did on that day. The treble hook was removed and my pal and I when back to fishing legally!
Another sweet memory took place at the old swimming hole opening day in 1949. While fishing for suckers I hooked and landed a 19-inch German Brown trout! I hung my prize on a forked stick, Tom Sawyer style, and peddled the mile back to our resort in record time.
After showing the speckled beauty to mom, I wrapped my trout in newspaper, dug through the sawdust in our icehouse and put the fish there to cool as I waited for dad to return from his day of guiding. Time passed with the speed of a snail in January.
My dad was pretty impressed with his 12 year old son’s conquest and actually offered to have it mounted for me, even though the going rate at that time for taxidermy work was 50 cents an inch.
Neal Long did the work and several months later the leaping beauty was hanging in the lodge dining room. Many years later I had Neal touch up the paint job, which he completed in the totally professional manner that made him one of the top taxidermists in the country.
As I type this, I can look up over my right shoulder and gaze upon that first big trout I ever landed and vividly recall that very special day in my life.
The group of guys I hung out with back in the dark ages always started the swimming season much earlier than normal folks would. We thought it very macho to be able to get on the school bus shortly after ice-out and calmly brag about taking a leisure swim in the icy waters of Plum Creek.
Today, I shiver just thinking about taking that first plunge into the swirling current off the end of the culvert, and then rushing out of the water to flatten myself on the warm blacktop of highway C to warm up.
That was before the road was widened and of course back then traffic was almost non-existent during the late 40s and early 50s. With an ear to the road we could detect the sound of oncoming traffic well before the vehicle rounded the curve and approached the creek. Before vehicles appeared we’d dive back in the creek and hide in the culvert, leaving motorists to wonder what left the large wet spots on the pavement.
For those of you who may wish to pay the ole swimming hole a visit when the weather warms up, beware of the huge water snakes that inhabit the area. They like to scare the devil out of you when you are about half way through the culvert! I speak from experience!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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