Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For June 29th, 2007 Edition.

Over the past 56 seasons while pulling on the oars I’ve met a ton of wonderful and unique people. Anglers in general are a special breed of folks and rarely do I find a bad apple in the barrel. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve spent a few days in misery on the water with whiners and complainers, but I figured out at an early age that life it too short to put up with nonsense like that when you’re out on the water enjoying a day with Ma Nature.

There is a clan from Evanston, IL with the last name of Brown that I started fishing with in 1961. Since then the various members of that family have spent 464 days sharing a boat with me. And not once has any member of the group done any whining or complaining, which has included a small number of days when we have returned to their vacation cottage fishless. We’ve fished in broiling heat, drenching rain and snow squalls, plus a couple of hailstorms and gales of the perfect storm variety. But every day has been fun!

We’ve explored numerous “new bodies of water”, we’ve been stuck in the sand, changed flat tires, punched a hole in my boat one time. We’ve also dropped a couple of rods in the lake, although both were successfully salvaged from the depths. In our younger days we’ve carried small boats on our backs to remote lakes, dragged canoes over wild cranberry bogs to reach secluded potholes and explored small creeks in an attempt to reach lakes with no public access. And along the way we’ve even caught a few fish now and then. There is no limit to the amount of memories we have collected.

Throughout the years the anglers in the family have ventured north to fish the waters of Northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s U. P. quite frequently. We’ve chased the finny denizens of the deep during the months of June, July, August, September, October and November. I’m not sure how we’ve missed May, but I suppose it’s because searching for walleye is their least favorite fishing pastime.

But June has always been the Brown’s favorite month to head up-north, as the fishing is usually top notch at that time of year, the fresh lush green foliage is eye catching and the hoards of summer vacationers have not yet arrived.

We recently spent three days together on their annual June outing and added additional memories to our treasure trove of past experiences. And June 15th turned out to be one day that will stick in our minds forever.

I was fishing with second and third generation members of the family, Ed II and Ed III. We usually head out on the first day of their vacation and pound the water for musky. But as we chatted over a leisurely breakfast at Wolf Pack Café we noted the day was shaping up to be a real scorcher with little or no wind and decided a search for the elusive muskellunge would probably be six or seven hours of hard work and frustration. So, I suggested a go at the smallmouth bass population in an area lake.

Our decision turned out to be a good one, as by days end we had slipped 33 of the bronzed back beauties back into the pristine waters they called home. We did take four fish home, two dandy northern and two walleye that somehow had become attached to our jigs and leeches.

The unexpected highlight of the day that I mentioned earlier occurred a few minutes before quitting time and might be considered as a minor miracle. But first let me return to the subject of rods and reels being dropped overboard.

Ed III, (referred to as “Ned” to avoid confusion in the boat when two Ed’s are on board) tossed his rod and reel into Escanaba Lake back in the late 60s when he was in his formative years. It went down in 20 feet of water but we had it back in the boat within 10 minutes.

A dunked rod and reel is not as difficult to recover as one might think, IF plans for recovery are prepared for and the proper recovery equipment is always kept on board the vessel.

Here’s my simple rod and reel recovery system. Have a fishing spot marker in the boat and keep it readily available. As soon as a rod and reel goes overboard toss the spot marker as close to the place where the equipment vanished into the depths below. Next, attach weighted large treble hooks to a stout rod equipped with stout line and slowly drag the hooks along the bottom of the lake, using a cris-cross pattern until the rod and reel is hooked and brought back to the surface.

Of course this is not a plan that will guarantee 100% recovery of lost equipment. But in most cases this technique will work. I have witnessed about 40 cases of rods and reels going to the bottom of Davy Jones Locker and have only failed to recover two of them. That’s not a bad batting average.

Now, the rest of the story.

It was 3:45 p.m. We were working a rocky drop off in 14 feet of water. I had a “tap-tap” on my leech and set the hook. My two companions noted I had a fish on and began reeling in their lines. But my smallmouth zoomed under the boat and wrapped my line around Ed’s line. The entanglement was a major mess and neither of us could continue reeling.

I dropped my rod on the bottom of the boat, grabbed my line and “hand over hand” pulled in the squirming and leaping bass. But as I was bringing up my catch I felt another definite tug from Ed’s line. Another unseen something with fins and scales had attached itself to his hook!

I tossed my bass back in the lake and told Ned to grab his dad’s line and haul up whatever had attacked his bait. Whatever it was, it wasn’t acting like a bass. The fish was heavy and kept bulldogging towards the bottom. Ned kept slowly and carefully inching the unseen gladiator upward and suddenly a very large walleye unexpectedly appeared from under my boat. I quickly grabbed the net and scooped the fish into the boat, where it began bouncing around on the floor. We all hooted, hollered, laughed and gave each other high fives at our unexpected conquest.

After everything settled down and the fish joined his pals on my stringer I noticed my prized musky rod was missing. The thrashing walleye had evidently bumped it overboard!

My boat had drifted a bit during the melee, and we had no idea exactly where my rod and reel had parted company with my boat.

I removed our jigs and replaced them with heavy daredevils and we began what I expected to be a fruitless search.

On Ned’s third cast, after the heavy lure had reached the rocky lake bottom below, he slowly began to reel the daredevil back towards the boat.

“Hey, I think I’ve hooked something.”

Slowly, ever so slowly Ned began raising the unknown something towards the surface. My lost rod and reel came up butt first, and at first sighting it looked like a chunk of driftwood. But then my red Garcia Sprint reel glowed in the sunlight and the minor miracle was complete.

Thanks Ned! Nice catch!

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

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