Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For August 15th, 2008 Edition.
During my weekly stints at St. Germain’s flea market on Mondays I often spend lots of quality time with many different folks just shooting the breeze concerning the sport of fishing. The small billboard I feature at my booth displays a goodly number of old photos of area legendary guides of yesteryear and their impressive stringers of game fish and lunker musky. The display seems to act like an “angler magnet” that draws curious nimrods to inspect the photos, which then generally ignites a reminiscing session.
Not surprisingly many of the most cherished memories of the older set revolve around the fun times that were experienced on fishing trips during the noontime shore lunch. Sadly, for a host of reasons, this time honored tradition is presently all but a historical footnote here in Wisconsin’s Northwood’s.
Modern day anglers returning from Canadian fishing adventures still tell glowing tales of the shore lunches they enjoyed while on foreign territory, as most of the guides working out of Canadian fishing camps still produce a traditional shore lunch of fresh fish, deep fried spuds, onion rings, beans and often fresh coffee. The verbal accolades generally include tales of good times, fun, practical jokes with a final chorus of “Ooooooh it’s soooooo good!”
On a recent outing with Ed Pelletteiere, a long time visitor and part time summer resident of this area, the two of us spent much of our morning conversation reminiscing about fishing back in the good old days and remembering the fun experienced during the shore lunch. I shared a number of my favorite shore lunch memories with Ed and by the time we exited the lake about noon our sides were sore from laughing!
Decades ago anglers from downstate and out of state often came north with little but fishing on their minds. Groups of friends regularly vacationed for several weeks and spent most of their time on the water chasing fish and storing memories. One such group comes to mind that relished the concept of dreaming up various “non-typical” shore lunches that often nearly drove their guides to drink. Examples follow.
The group in question was comprised of four doctors and their wives. The four couples used Ed Gabe’s Lost Lake Resort as there home away from home where they enjoyed the finest of deluxe accommodations, great food, internal body stimulants at the “Buck Inn” plus numerous guides anxious to earn a Jackson for a daily wage.
I first became involved with this group in 1956, which booked me for a full week in July. On our first day together the couple I fished with enjoyed a traditional shore lunch, after which I was given a directive as to what the shore lunch on day two was to include as the main entrée.
I was asked, in a nice way, to choose a lake that had an abundance of resident bullfrogs, as the doctor and his wife desired fresh frog legs for lunch. At first I thought my new clients were pulling my leg, but no, they were dead serious. And so, the next morning after breakfast at the lodge I aimed my ’49 Buick toward Big Muskellunge Lake.
My Manitowish guide model was heavily loaded as I shoved off from the north shore landing. Besides the normal tackle boxes, rods and reels, rain suits, lunch basket, minnow bucket and cooking gear our baggage included a pair of rubber hip boots, a nine foot fly rod, trout creel and a small portable bar.
We pitched for musky till eleven and then I was asked to “Take me to the frogs.”
At the time there were a number of marshy sloughs along the east shore of the lake that were filled with big bullfrogs. After beaching the boat Doc pulled on his hip boots, strung up his fly rod and baited a small hook with a chunk of red yarn. Then he waded out into the mucky slop and dangled the fake bug made of red yarn in front of an unsuspecting frog.
“Slurp” went the frog’s sticky tongue. Doc set the hook and professionally landed the frog. Within a half-hour his trout creel was bulging with frogs.
During the frogging session, Mrs. Doc. opened the bar. She quite professionally mixed herself a gin martini, complete with a twist of lemon and an olive. I politely turned down an offer to sample her concoction and pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
Our next stop was the lunch ground on the island where Doc and I prepared the legs of the frogs for cooking. Mrs. Doc. kept the bar open and operating.
Well, I must confess, that was my first meal of frog legs and I continue to enjoy a meal of them every so often at Scoobies North on highway 155 in St. Germain. Yum, yum!
While we were dining on freshly harvested frog legs Doc noted there were numerous pine (red) squirrels living on the island. He inquired as to how red squirrel tasted, but was undaunted in his desire to taste them himself even after I answered his question with “Like a pinecone.”
You guessed it, -- on day three Doc brought a .22 rifle he had borrowed along and spent an hour or more securing several red squirrels for our noon meal. While he combed the island for squirrels, I gathered wood for the fire, cut up the potatoes, and watched Mrs. Doc consume a trio of martinis. Ah yes, -- life was good. But the squirrel wasn’t. Doc admitted, after chewing on a chunk of fried squirrel, that indeed the flesh did taste a bit like a pinecone. Mrs. Doc said she thought it tasted like a gin martini.
On day four I cooked a noon meal of imported sea turtle, which was about one notch above red squirrel.
On day five we dined on broiled fresh Maine lobster, which the foursome of doctors had special ordered and were flown live in barrels of seawater to Rhinelander from Maine!
On day six and seven we thankfully returned to having a simple “traditional shore lunch”, plus Mrs. Doc’s martinis!
Ah yes, life was good!
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: email@example.com 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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