Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For March 20th, 2009 Edition.
As the month of March begins to show signs of eventually bowing out to April, many eager anglers often get a curious tingling sensation in their casting arm, hand and fingers. The early signs of "fishing fever" are setting in. Other frequent symptoms may include pacing the living room floor, spooling new line on favored fishing reels, extended viewing of the Saturday and Sunday morning fishing shows on the Outdoor Channel or calling in an order to a fishing supplies catalog store.
Additional indications of those infected with the dreaded disease may take the form of seeing them watching rivulets of water from melting snow tickling down driveways that form pools of water resembling small lakes. Or in my case, one who lives in a home overlooking a small creek, with a cup of coffee in hand I stare at the flowing stream as if expecting to see an early migration of fish making their spawning run.
Researchers claim March is the worst month for "cabin fever", a condition of depression caused by long winters and a shortness of outdoor activities. Warm southern breezes, snowmelt and the subtle promise of actual spring awaken an angler's urge to get out and fish. Such an urge can drive many nimrods to attempt some outlandish early fishing adventures!
I was a participant in one adventure that falls into the "outlandish" category in the late 1940s during my formative years. The Wisconsin Conservation Department opted to open stream fishing for trout in April - as an experiment you understand. Dyed in the wool trout fishermen all across the north jumped and clicked their heels together in glee at the very prospect of wading their favorite trout stream in April whether the trout would bite or not.
Dad and uncle Ed took little time in planning a massive assault on Plum Creek for the early opener. Of course their sons, my cousin, Lee, and I, began begging to be included in the program, despite the fact we didn't have a clue as how to fool a trout in April, or any other month for that matter! Our father's finally relented and allowed us to go with them - under one condition. The two kids would have to fish together as a team while the two veterans went their separate ways.
Dad and uncle Ed were wise enough to assign Lee and I a section of Plum Creek far removed downstream from the area the two trout pros were planning to fish. Knowing full well the two kids would stumble around in the water like the proverbial bull in a china shop scaring every trout in the river, their plan was well thought out!
Opening morning dawned clear and brisk. Lee and I were dropped off a quarter mile downstream from Brooker's Bridge. Our orders were to fish downstream all the way to highway C and then walk home. Outfitted in oversized hip waders, hand-me-down fly rods and a can of earthworms Lee and I attacked the creek with high expectations.
Our high expectations lasted about thirty minutes, maybe less. After fishing two or three good-looking potential trout hiding holes with nary a bite our attention turned to numerous massive sheets of ice still clinging to the banks of the stream. To test the strength of the mini-icebergs we jumped up and down on one rather large outcropping of ice and to our delight were able to break it free of the bank! Immediately we realized we had created a large ice raft that could possibly be used as a vehicle to float down the creek rather than wade!
Catching trout was forgotten and we suddenly were converted to daring adventurers exploring an uncharted river by riding a chunk of ice downstream! It was a delightfully entertaining morning. The only problem was that once our ice raft was surrounded by flowing water it began to melt rather quickly. Lee and I would only get to ride our raft several hundred yards before it would refuse to support our combined weights. That meant we had to break off another large chunk of ice in order to resume our exploration!
Our downfall occurred as we encountered other anglers who were actually trying to catch a trout. They took a dim view of two kids floating past them right through their favorite fishing spots. I imagine the trout weren't too thrilled either about two whooping kids riding ice rafts that were floating over their heads.
By the time we reached highway C we were fairly well soaked to the skin. The mile and a quarter walk back to the Anderson homestead warmed our bodies as we verbally replayed our thrilling adventure. Our joyful attitude was not to last.
Much later in the day dad and uncle Ed arrived from their opening day trout fishing excursion. Very few trout rested in their creels but at least they were dry. Not too long after dad and Ed's arrival our phone rang.
One angler Lee and I passed on our ice rafts recognized the Anderson kid and was calling to express his concern for our obvious lack of trout fishing etiquette. I was unaware of the nature of the call but when I saw dad listening to the conversation and noticed he was glaring at Lee and I it was obvious trouble was brewing.
Well, Lee and I received a fairly comprehensive verbal lesson concerning proper ethical behavior on a trout stream! But even as the lesson proceeded, when Lee and I described our rafting adventures, dad and uncle Ed's faces would occasionally flicker with just a hint of a grin.
My "grounding" from fishing trout in Plum Creek was short lived and as the years piled up I spent a considerable amount of time in its cold, clear, pristine waters teaching myself how to catch trout, but never again did I travel its surface on an ice raft!
Over the years I've participated in many additional "outlandish" fishing adventures. How well I recall those two and a half-mile walks over slippery clay trails to the mouth of the Little Carp River in Michigan's Porcupine Mountains on fruitless attempts to catch giant rainbows. Or traveling by snow-machine over the slushy, melting surface of Chequamegon Bay to within a hundred yards of open water to fish for lake trout in 110 feet of water! Or fishing trout and salmon on Lake Superior the day after ice-out from a fourteen-foot canoe! And these are but a few examples from dozens more!
Presently, when I get an urge for some outlandish early spring fishing adventure my brain and my body discusses the idea.
Brain: "Hey, I got a good idea! Let's drive to Little Girl's Point on Lake Superior and walk out a quarter mile across a questionably solid frozen surface and catch a couple Coho salmon."
Body: "No, I'm going to stay here on my recliner and watch fishing shows on the Outdoor Channel."
Nowadays my body always wins!
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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