Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For July 27th, 2007 Edition.

One question I field quite often is, "When is the best time to go fishing?" My usual opening salvo is, "Any time you have time to go fishing."

One popular bumper sticker does a nice job of summing up the question of when to fish with the simple statement; "A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work."

Actually, the original question has a multitude of answers. And it makes little difference who does the answering as generally those who listen to the answers will most often disagree with the speakers opinions on the subject. Regardless of the consequences I'm willing to give the question a shot.

Let me start by saying I have recorded nearly 5000 days on the water in my "daily fishing diaries" since I started doing so in 1953. Added to that total another 1500 days my dad recorded in his diary between 1941 and 1961. Based on this volume of data it becomes very clear that the month of June is a narrow winner as the month that produces the most overall fishing success across the widest varieties of fish species.

Next let's discuss "the perfect fishing day." Probably, there is no such thing. Though somewhat predicable, fish often throw anglers a curve ball and for whatever reason depart from the norm. Even though fish have a brain the size of a pea they often seem to be smarter that those above water mammals with the very large brain that are stalking them.

My idea of the perfect fishing day would include the following. I would like several days in a row with a southerly breeze, southwest being the top choice. That would allow the atmosphere to become heavily laden with humidity and the sky would be partly to mostly cloudy with temperatures in the mid to upper 70s. An extra-added feature would be a storm front slowly approaching from the west.

These conditions will also produce one negative factor for fisherpersons. Those dreaded little flies with the red heads will be attempting to feast on your ankles and any other exposed flesh. Years ago Neal Long told me something that I totally agree with. He said, "When the flies and mosquitoes bite, the fish bite."

Conversely, the worst day to fish is on a day after a cold front has passed when the skies have cleared and a cool, brisk northwest wind is whistling in from the arctic. That's a good day to golf or cut the grass.

What I consider to be "an old wives tale" is the belief that fishing is best during a rainstorm. I consider fishing in a rainstorm to be foolish, uncomfortable, and possibly life threatening. Never, never, never fish when there is thunder and lightning present or drawing near! Get off the lake pronto at the first suggestion a mean storm is approaching!

Now fishing in a gentle shower is a whole different animal. I've had good success fishing in light to moderate shower conditions, as long as the temperature is not falling. Once that occurs I've found the catching success falls off also. When fog or mist begins to rise from the surface of the water as the air temperature falls below the temperature of the water, for whatever reason the fish usually become afflicted with an acute case of lockjaw.

Another tool that is helpful in putting the odds in your favor is to get a copy of the "Solunar Tables", which predict when fish, birds and other animals will be most actively feeding. Yes, they do work, but you need to be where the fish are feeding during those predicted peak-feeding periods! Simply hoping to be "lucky" and be in the right spot reduces your odds of success. Expert anglers generally agree that 90% of the fish are found in 10% of the water and successful anglers need to discover just where that 10% is.

Now let's return to that perfect day. The storm front you've been hoping for is scheduled to arrive in your area around mid-afternoon. The sky begins to thicken as the humidity builds and the flies began to feast. A distant, faint rumble of thunder seems to flick the fish-feeding switch to "on" as a feeding frenzy begins to take place. The action becomes nearly unbelievable! I've been present many times as this scenario unfolds. But one must be a good judge of when it's time to head for the landing!

One of my favorites, "you won't believe this story" took place in just such a situation. Don, his son Jason, and I were pounding a small rock bar on North Bass Lake one sultry July afternoon as a storm front was approaching. We had been faintly hearing thunder rumbles west of us for a half-hour when the musky action suddenly exploded. Within the next half-hour we boated three fish (all released) and had several more follow-ups.

I was casting a red bucktail and had a hit at the end of a long cast. I attempted to set the hook only to have my line break at the tip of my rod. I expressed my displeasure verbally and set about tying on a new leader. Jason, seated in the middle seat retrieved a cast and announced he had hooked someone's line. Assuming he had hooked my broken line I started pulling it in by hand, happy to be getting my bucktail back.

A sudden jerk on the line told me the musky was still attached to my lure! Don was just preparing to make a cast as I announced we still had an active fish on my broken line. At my request Don swung his bucktail to me, I burned off his lure and leader with my handy cigar, and quickly tied an overhand knot attaching my broken line to his.

Don began reeling in, set the hook once more and proceeded to land the musky I had hooked less than a minute earlier! After recovering my bucktail from the muskie's jaw we slid it back into the lake and hooted and hollered about what an unbelievable event we had just witnessed. There was unanimous agreement that nobody would ever believe the story.

With that we started the motor and reached the landing with about five minutes to spare before Ma Nature unleashed all her fury.

Well, the story is true and I'm sure someone out there has a tale that will top ours.

Some of the best fishing takes place in print!

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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