Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For September 12th, 2008 Edition.
This past Labor Day weekend pretty much marked the conclusion of my summer fishing expeditions, as I spent three wonderful days with some of my long time pals and angling companions, Pete and Caroline Mironenko plus their nine year old grandson, Gavin, who made his maiden voyage to the Wisconsin Northwood's.
I first met Pete Mironenko and a group of his buddies during the Memorial Day weekend in 1973, a chance encounter that eventually developed into a lasting friendship and annual excursions together in quest of fishing adventures.
Pete and his family are Indiana Hoosiers, and despite the fact they are dyed in the wool Colts fans they get along wonderfully with our Northern Wisconsin cheeseheads. And that is how it should be, as our northwoods economy is highly dependent on a goodly supply of steady, repeat tourists to keep the landscape green with Jacksons, Grants and Franklins!
My first encounter with Pete, his wife Caroline, and their friends spanned four days during the Memorial Day weekend in '73. My daily diary reminds me we fished six different lakes in a variety of typical late spring see-saw weather conditions. Our bag contained a wide variety of native fishes, including walleye, northern, bass, perch and a dandy forty-six inch musky by Pete! And best of all an annual tradition was born!
Since that time the Mironenko gang has generally spent quality vacation time up north twice a year, enjoying the early fishing during Memorial Day and late summer/early fall fishing during Labor Day. And despite the milling masses that infest the North Country during those peak tourist times we always seem to be able to locate reasonably quiet, serene lakes to fish.
As time marched on some of the "good old boys" that were part of Pete's "Indiana Eight" began to drop out of the annual trips and were replaced by two of Pete and Caroline's daughters, Tiffany and Tasha, plus son-in-law Don, and brother-in-law Bruce, better known as "Festus."
Sometimes, when a second boat is required to accommodate the additional bodies our son, Chris, accepts the challenge, or - there have been frequent outings when one of my canoes is tied to the stern of my boat and I act as guide and navigator for two crafts! Other anglers that may be on the lake of our choice are often caught gawking at the strange procession slowly making its way along the lakes shoreline. I'm sure the liberal amounts of laugher and good-natured banter are also attention getters.
Let it be known that every member of the clan are all sharply honed in the art of producing fish! Pete, the undisputed patriarch of the clan, is without a doubt the most proficient angler that has ever occupied space in my boat! He has that "Midas Touch" that leaves lesser anglers in awe of his fish catching abilities! Pete always occupies the rear seat in my boat and generally is forced to fish water that one or two anglers have already tested. His daily tally is usually twice to three times that of any other angler in the boat, including the guide! Also keep in mind Pete currently only fishes with artificial lures and still out fishes his companions!
As one can imagine, we have experienced a considerable amount of highly memorable outings over the past 35 seasons. Allow me to share some of my favorite images.
On the 24th of May in 2002, I had Tiffany and Tasha on board ship. As I slipped my boat into the water the morning temperature was 34 degrees and snowflakes were drifting earthward! But undaunted by the weather my companions donned winter parkas, gloves and earmuffs and we headed out. The girls were amazed to discover no leaves were yet in evidence on the deciduous trees, due of course to a very late spring. However, the temperature topped out in the afternoon at a balmy 57 and the gals caught and released seventy-three bass from the very shallow and muddy, "Pothole Number 12."
The morning of May 28th in 2005 proved to be a memory maker. My boat contained Pete and Caroline, the trailing canoe I was towing was a bit overloaded with Tiffany, Tasha and Don. Tasha was seated in the middle of the canoe on a boat cushion atop a cooler. While attempting to re-adjust the cushion, Tasha took a sudden plunge into fifty degree water. Miraculously, the canoe did not capsize! Of course, all on board were wearing life vests and Don grabbed the sputtering Tasha's life vest as I towed her to shore.
This mishap resulted in a rapid departure from the lake, a trip back to Big Wood Lodge for dry clothing, and then back on the water as nothing had happened. Of course, no one reminded Tasha about her morning swim. Ya, right!
On May 26th of 2001 a rapidly developing thunderstorm caught us a few hundred feet short of the landing. Pea sized hail pelted both boatloads of anglers, who actually held the boat cushions over their heads to lessen the abuse from the stinging hail!
Speaking of hail! The historic Memorial Weekend hailstorm on Sunday of this year also took place during the Mironenko's visit. My son and I successfully exited Stella Lake a few minutes prior to all Hades breaking loose, but both of our vehicles took a brutal beating from hail that ranged in size from grapes to hen eggs! Caroline and Tiffany, passengers in my Dodge Dakota, endured fifteen minutes of relentless pounding as we sat parked by the side of the road on Four Corner Lane in St. Germain unable to drive due to the intensity of the storm! The resulting damage to my vehicle exceeded $7,600.oo and it was laid up in the repair shop for nine days! Now that's a memory!
Many of our fondest memories have been forged around the activities that take place during the daily shore lunch. Pete has a hobby of collecting odd shaped stones, especially those in the shape of a heart. Let me say his collection is extensive! This past Memorial Day, as I cleaned the fish for lunch and the female members of the group were scouting the forest for the "girl's room", Pete prowled the beach for collectable material. He found what I would consider a true artifact!
Returning to the cooking area Pete proudly displayed "an odd shaped heart stone." My son, a "stone expert" in his own right, was the first to recognize what Pete had discovered! A genuine stone axe head! Somewhat chiseled shaped on one side and perfectly rounded on the other with pronounced groves on each side to accommodate a wooden handle, it was indeed a rare find.
So, -- another batch of memories have been accumulated, especially for Gavin, who took great strides forward in mastering the art of angling and went home with over thirty Washington's in his pocket. Grandpa Pete made the mistake of offering a dollar for each bass his grandson boated!
I've already marked my 2009 calendar with the name "Pete" for their Memorial Day and Labor Day annual outings. Come hail or axe heads, we'll do our best to enjoy more cherished time together! Thanks gang!
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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