Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For June 15th, 2007 Edition.

Personally, I've always been a lover of small lakes. By small I mean bodies of water less than 200 acres, and I love them even better if the shorelines contain few or no dwellings.

It isn't that I dislike larger lakes, as I've spent a ton of time on lakes like Big St. Germain, Ike Walton, Turtle Flambeau Flowage, Rainbow Flowage, plus numerous similar bodies of water, besides giants like Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Atlantic Ocean. But to me the smaller lakes expound character that the larger bodies of water lack. But hey, that's only my opinion so you lovers of large lakes need not take offense at my concept.

There is a large dose of sadness in my heart this season as I have revisited many of my favorite potholes and secluded landlocked lakes that dot the north woods landscape. The continuing lack of normal snowfall and rain over the past decade has created a lowering of the ground water tables, which in turn lowers the water levels in our small landlocked lakes. Many of these tiny jewels are up to four feet below normal, a condition not seen in this region since the dustbowl days of the 1930s.

Lakes are classed into three distinct categories. Drainage, spring fed and seepage. Drainage lake have an inlet(s) and an outlet, spring fed lakes have an outlet but no inlet, and seepage lakes receive their water that seeps into their basins from the surrounding water table. This is why several inches of rain will not raise a landlocked lake several inches. The water seeps back into the groundwater table. It takes a prolonged period of excess rain and melting snow pack to appreciably raise the water levels in landlocked lakes.

Members of the bass family that live in these small landlocked lakes have had to move their traditional spawning areas further from the normal shoreline spawning zones, which now in many cases are high and dry sand and gravel beaches. What effect this will have on the overall reproductive cycle remains to be seen.

Despite the negative effects of the continuing drought on the smaller lakes, they still retain a special magnetism and charm for myself, plus the vast majority of the folks who choose to share a boat with me. The abundance of wildlife that inhabits the areas around these less traveled bodies of water is a solid bonus on days when the finny residents of the lake are inflicted with a temporary case of lockjaw.

Time on the water is chucked full of entertainment presented by soaring eagles, hovering and diving ospreys, singing loons, colorful waterfowl, cheery songbirds, sunning turtles and occasionally playful deer romping along the shorelines. Add to this the peace and quiet of a pristine lake, devoid of roaring engines, and whining PWCs and you have a piece of paradise.

Recently I spent four wonderful days with two long time friends who were up north on their annual spring pilgrimage to the promised land. They, like me, are devout lovers of small lakes and the blue gills and bass kept the Dudek Brothers plenty busy. Our shore lunches of golden brown fries, onion rings, baked beans and succulent pan- fried blue gills, all washed down with a can of what make Milwaukee famous, supplemented with quiet conversation concerning past memories, was a welcome mid-day interlude to the catching and releasing.

On their fourth and final day of adventure our day basically began as I turned my truck off a paved town road onto a narrow two-track that meanders through a mature forest of maple, oak, ironwood, basswood and scattered small balsams. Comments from the passenger and rear seats spewed forth concerning the tranquil beauty of the half-mile tour to the lake.

Several times I stopped to point out clusters of ancient charred, decaying stumps of what once had been gigantic white pine trees that towered above the forest floor some one hundred years ago. From a lofty perch in a sugar maple a broad wing hawk stared suspiciously at the three intruders in his hunting territory. Chipmunks and gray squirrels scampered across the leaf covered forest floor and various songbirds flittered from tree to tree as we slowly drove through their living rooms. The day was already a success!

A calm mirrored surface greeted us, reflecting a cloudless royal blue sky and reflections of upside down pines and hardwood trees. Two mallards retreated down the shoreline as we prepared my boat for launching while a great blue heron took wing squawking his obvious disapproval at having his breakfast interrupted. From his perch on top of a dead cattail a male red wing blackbird chirped us a friendly welcome. Frederick Remington could not have painted a finer outdoor scene!

The morning passed all too quickly, despite the fact the resident population of bluegills and bass did their part to keep the action at a fast pace. We kept a modest stringer of only male 'gills, releasing the girls sporting bulging bellies still filled with what would eventually become baby bluegills.

We called it a day shortly before noon, as Norm, who pilots his own plane, received data via his new fangled GPS that serious afternoon storms were brewing along his flight path.

As I steadied the boat for my two anglers at the landing site I spied a curious object protruding from the soft beach sand that normally would have been covered by two feet of water. I extracted the object and discovered it was a very old rifle shell casing of 45-70 caliber, it's designation nearly extinguished by time. How long ago had someone fired it? At what? By whom? All questions that will remain unanswered, the truth hidden in the mists of time gone by.

Yes indeed, small lakes are chucked full of character and sometimes even offer up a minor mystery!

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:  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

Back to CNY - Four Club Calendar