Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For June 13th, 2008 Edition.

Spending lots of time on the water will guarantee those doing so a wide variety of different and often unique experiences. Such was the case on Sunday of the recent Memorial Day Weekend!

Our son, Chris, and I were fishing with long time friends from Indiana on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In general the weather was much nicer than it often is on that important National Holiday, and despite the much colder than normal water temperatures the fish cooperated nicely. However, things got pretty ugly Sunday afternoon.

The National Weather Service warned of the impending storm. Unfortunately no one that happened to be in the path of the monster had any idea of just how bad conditions would become. As it turned out the Mironenko gang from Indiana, Pete, Caroline and Tiffney experienced an adventure they will never forget! Tiffney's husband, Don, opted to use Sunday for a bit of sight seeing rather than spending a third day fishing.

Pete fished with me while Caroline and Tiffany shared a boat with Chris. The six of us fished a fairly small lake in the St. Germain area on Sunday. As expected, with the approaching storm, the fish went on a feeding frenzy. Our plan of attack was casting spinner baits and small bucktails in hopes of nailing a few northern pike and possibly a cooperating musky. The offerings we presented were welcomed and the pike kept everyone on their toes, as did a smattering of largemouth bass.

By noon our stringers contained a modest number of nice sized pike, several muskies had been spotted and a dozen or so bass and numerous pike had been returned to their homes. A leisurely shore lunch consisted of deep fried boneless pike fillets, mountains of freedom fries, onion rings, Bush's grilling beans and cans of what made Milwaukee famous. A good time was had by all!

After lunch the anglers once again hit the water and the tempo of the feeding frenzy noticeably picked up as the then unseen storm clouds inched ever closer to our location. Pete had a ball battling a 38-inch musky, which we released unharmed. The pike kept us busy until shortly before three p.m. when we heard the first distant rumble of thunder.

Sinister black clouds soon appeared on the southwest horizon and the rumbling became much more frequent. It was time to pull the plug and head for the landing.

We were not alone on the lake. Besides our two craft an additional five other boats filled with anglers were enjoying the day and the activity. One other group of anglers was nearing the launch area when Chris and I arrived with our cargo. But, -- to our surprise two other groups were already at the landing preparing to launch their boats!

By now it was obvious to anyone who looked westward the storm was moving towards us rather rapidly. The thunder was almost constant and jagged bolts of lightning criss-crossed the moisture-laden clouds.

I beached my boat off to the side of the launch area and tried to persuade the new arrivals to reconsider their plans to head out into the teeth of what was shaping up to be a "real doozy" of a storm. I failed in my attempt! My pleading was rebuffed rather sharply by the captain of one of the two ships with, "I've got a motor on my boat, -- if it starts raining I'll come on in!" So much for common sense.

As Chris and I were pulling out of the parking area with our passengers safely inside our vehicles there were four more boats lined up off shore waiting their turn to get off the lake and the two new arrivals were motoring across the lake directly into the mouth of the monster! I shuddered to think what those unfortunate souls were going to endure within a few minutes!

I was in the lead, Chris was behind me, but as I pulled out on the main highway another car got between us. Rain had already begun to fall and the wind had picked up noticeably.

The groups final plan for our third and final day together to celebrate our annual Memorial Day outing was to meet at Sister's Saloon for a farewell brew before delivering our guests to the resort where they were staying. There were several different routes we could take to reach our destination and now that my son and I were separated in the pouring rain fate decided we'd take different routes. Fortunately for Chris, his passengers and his vehicle, his choice was better than mine.

The two gals were riding in my truck, while Pete occupied the passenger seat in Chris' Jeep Wrangler. Within minutes of leaving the landing the first of what would be millions of hailstones began bouncing on the blacktop and my truck. The intensity of the rain and hail rapidly increased, as did the size of the hail. Driving conditions became so bad I was forced to pull over to the side of the road, put on my emergency flashers and endure the punishment.

The three of us sat as prisoners while hailstones the size of golf balls, and some larger ones, unmercifully pounded my vehicle and boat. Tree limbs, pine needles and leaves piled up on the hood and roof of my truck as the storm continued to unleash its fury. We suffered through the pounding for nearly fifteen minutes before the storm eased up making it possible to continue our journey. It was a minor miracle that none of the windows or windshield was broken. As the storm began to subside the landscape resembled a fresh winter snowstorm. Dense fog rapidly formed as a result of the ice and driving on the hail-covered highway gave an impression as though we were riding on ball bearings!

For the next three or four miles our speed was restricted to ten or fifteen mph due to the denseness of the fog. Driving conditions were beyond terrible. The highways were covered with debris of all types and oncoming traffic suddenly appeared out of the fog like pre-historic creatures.

By the time we reached highway 70 we were back in a more familiar environment, as it was easily apparent the storm zone was now behind us. Upon reaching our destination the heavens once again opened wide and we ducked inside the cozy interior of Sister's Saloon as more pea sized hail and pounding rain began falling. But fortunately this storm cell was small and short-lived.

An inspection of my vehicle and boat resulted in the following. The hood of my truck was pock marked like the surface of the moon. Over one hundred dents marred its surface. Both fenders the roof and the passengers side of the truck were likewise dented. The driver's side contained a dozen or more dents, but the damage paled by comparison to the rest of the vehicle. The amount of debris on the hood and roof looked as though someone had decided to camouflage the truck.

My old wooden guide boat faired much better, other than the four inches of water that covered the floor, a quad-zillion hailstones floating on the surface along with a bushel basket or two of pine needles, cones, leaves and entire branches.

Likewise, Chris' Jeep sustained injury, but not anything like his dad's truck. He too had been forced to pull over to the side of the road, but he and Pete were not in the center of the path of destruction.

As we sipped our farewell toast to our annual Memorial Day outing, we couldn't help wonder what fate had befallen those who did not get off the lakes in time. I guess no one was seriously injured, and that's a good thing!

But folks, when you hear thunder, see lighting, and dark clouds appear on the horizon, GET OFF THE WATER, fast! Ma Nature often doesn't give you much extra time. And don't forget, those graphite-fishing poles are extremely excellent lightning rods!

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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