Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For June 27th, 2008 Edition.
It had been over thirty years since Eddie and I fished the river together. My suggestion that we do so again came on a “spur of the moment” impulse during a recent visit by Eddie and his wife, Marilyn, a couple weeks ago. The women folk planned a routine shopping adventure so I asked Eddie if he’d like to rekindle some old memories by fishing the river once again. It took about two seconds for him to accept my offer.
Ed Petras and I met for the first time during the summer of 1945. I was eight, he seven. Ed and his parents, plus his nine-year old brother, John Jr., Chicago residents, were vacationing at Clear View Lodge on Big St. Germain Lake. Ed’s dad hired my dad to show him where the walleye lived. Ed, and John Jr. were shuffled off into my care to be entertained for the day and, -- well, the rest is history.
During the next decade the three of us spent lots of time together while the Petras Family was up north on their annual summer vacations. We fished everything from perch to musky to brook trout and reduced the red squirrel population of the immediate area by 50%. After John Jr. was old enough to get a drivers license the Petras Brothers came north in a snazzy red Nash convertible and the three of us added chasing teenaged girls to our list of “let’s do” stuff.
Ed and John Jr. were companions in my boat on Lake Laura during the infamous day of the killer tornados, June 30, 1953, when four boaters drown after being capsized by the twister. A guardian angel was probably responsible for preventing us from becoming victims five through seven!
John Jr. never became infected with the “fishing & hunting” virus, but Eddie sure was! Over the past six plus decades the two of us have shared a considerable number of memorable outings in quest of fish and game. Ed spent sixteen years as a member of the Anderson/Jorgensen Deer Camp. We’ve chased Lake Michigan trout and salmon, captured halibut and salmon in Alaska, and limited out on jumbo walleye during an opening day blizzard in 1979. We’ve hunted pheasants in Illinois and Iowa, each of us bagged a bull elk in Colorado and we’ve listened to the music of a yowling beagle chasing snowshoe hares in some local cedar swamps and popple thickets every winter. We’ve made many trips to North Dakota in quest of waterfowl, and also hunted ducks and geese on the Mississippi and locally. There’s been much, much more, but you get the point. We’ve done a whole lot of “been there, done that.”
There was a secondary reason for once again fishing the river together besides going there for a large dose of reminiscing! Wifee Poo and Marilyn expected to return from their shopping excursion to find the makings of a fresh fish dinner waiting. The pressure was on!
After an appetite suppressing breakfast at Wolf Pack Café the ladies headed for Minocqua and Woodruff. Eddie and I returned to my home to gear up for the upcoming return to paradise.
An hour later we were sliding my canoe and a minimal amount of fish catching equipment down a steep bank into “the river.” Ed took the bow seat, I the stern. I snapped a number three Mepps spinner dressed with squirrel tail on his leader and a same type lure dressed with white deer hair on mine. Shortly after ten a.m. we pushed off and began accumulating more memories.
Bend number one, “Big Smallmouth Bend”, was silent. I reminded my friend the spot was so named because my then new bride of three months nailed a five-pound smallmouth bass there on her first trip and first cast to this hallowed location.
Between bend one and bend two I put a very plump rock bass in my burlap bag. Bend two, “My Very First Musky” bend, was likewise quiet. Bend three, “Never Fail Bend”, produced a second rocky. Eddie remarked using a rock bass to continue the bends favorable rating was stretching the ethical standards of “never fail.”
Bend four, “Big Northern Bend”, contained an eager pike, which attacked Ed’s spinner with gusto. However, the pike, at a modest twenty inches, didn’t fit the mold of the bends title. But we were closer to that fresh fish dinner the girls were expecting.
Bend five, “Big Musky Bend”, produced two additional pike, both by the bowman, which I added to the bag. The pressure was off! Our Friday night fish fry was guaranteed! Now we could relax and enjoy the remainder of the trip.
Bend six, “Largemouth Heaven”, lived up to its billing by sending one of its occupants to attack Ed’s spinner. The chunky two-pound fish was sent back to its underwater condo.
Bend seven, “Beaver House Bend”, produced another largemouth, this one liked white. After I released it Ed reminded me his bass had been much larger than mine.
Bend eight produced a fourth pike, which we added to the sack for what I called, “insurance.”
Now that we had fulfilled our obligations to secure supper, I turned the canoe around and we began the return trip. Ed continued to toss a few casts, which netted a third release of a largemouth, plus one more plump rocky, which I considered additional insurance. Now it was time for recalling additional memories and enjoying the wildlife.
We replayed capturing the first musky John Jr. ever caught at the appropriate location, as well as the five-pound bass I caught at age eight. Dad made me toss it back as the season had not yet opened. I confessed to Eddie that I had bawled my head off. We recalled the walleye Ed caught on a red and white bass-o-reno, plus a number of additional memorable catches.
Three otters entertained us for a few minutes, as did one of the resident eagles that eyed us suspiciously from high in an ancient white pine. A bittern and a great blue heron, interrupted from their fishing by our presence, quickly departed for parts unknown. We were also allowed to watch mergansers and kingfishers plying their skills.
By 12:30 the fish were cleaned just in time for a short afternoon nap.
Later that evening, after a brace of internal body stimulants to sharpen our appetites, we dined like royalty on deep fried boneless pike fillets and meaty rock bass slabs, accompanied by golden brown Freedom Fries mixed with onion rings and Bush’s grilling beans.
The following morning, as Ed and Marilyn prepared to return to their home near LaCrosse, Eddie thanked me for the return to paradise, - then added, “Maybe we can do that again sometime.”
I grinned, shook my old friends hand and said, “No problem!”
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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