Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For May 15th, 2009 Edition.
As usual, I was wide-awake fifteen minutes before the alarm clock was scheduled to jangle at 5:00 a.m. After quickly dressing I let Belle out to do her morning mission and make her rounds checking all the scents left by prowling nighttime varmints. Next, I flipped the switch on the coffee pot to the "on" position and yelled to my fishing companions that were occupying the lower level, "Hey, get up! It's daylight in the swamp!" Another opening day was dawning!
Those that assemble for our annual opening day ritual are a unique and varied group of nimrods. Don and Bob hail from the Chicago area and have been occupants in my boat dating back to 1972. Tom and Steve call Green Bay home and enrolled as regulars for the opener about 10 years ago. Two of my local pals, JR and Craig have likewise been part of the flotilla for the better part of a decade as has my son, Chris. Duke travels up north to fish with us all the way from Richland County. If the weatherman promises temperatures will climb into the 60s or better, Linda and Shelly will dress extra warm and join the men. However, as you may recall, opening day temperatures in 2008 and 2009 struggled to break into the upper 40s and our fishing expedition consisted of all males.
Mostly cloudy skies, raw, gusty westerly and northwesterly winds kept our hands and fingers chilly most of the morning. Water temperatures were colder than we would have preferred, resulting in a sparse and lethargic response from both walleye and northern. But our efforts did produce enough future fillets for our annual evening feast, an event looked forward to by most of the crew more than the actual catching!
Our noon lunch consisted of cheese and jalapeno brats that had simmered all night covered with beer in a slow cooker in our kitchen. Oh, how the house did reek with mouth-watering goodness by morning. Chef Tom took credit for the main entrée, Steve chipped in with a pot of home brewed baked beans and Duke finished us off with a pan of his wife's lemon squares. Beverages ranged from soda pop to cans of what made Milwaukee famous.
By 3:00 p.m. we called it a day and four boat loads of happy and contented anglers headed for the Anderson home to prepare the evening fish fry. Our combined bag added up to 23 walleye and pike plus 6 jumbo perch, more than enough for the 16 mouths that would require fresh fish for the main course.
Besides the nine anglers the additional guests for the annual feast consisted of friends, Mike and Robin, our "middle daughter", Anna, plus Lillian, Linda, Shelly and Wifee Poo.
With the arrival of each vehicle carrying guests to the feed more plates of snacks and various goodies appeared on the serving island. Smoked venison strips, a smoked wild turkey breast, pickled whitefish, nine-year old cheddar cheese, garlic venison summer sausage, blueberry/cream cheese squares, and a wide variety of beverages.
Five pounds of French fries, and about twice that amount of fillets, plus another pot of baked beans rounded out the menu, all of which eventually disappeared by 7:30.
On the morning of the second day only Don, Bob and yours truly tested the waters. The remaining members packed up and headed home or had other plans for a Sunday. By Don's request, the three of us headed out on a voyage of discovery.
Don has fished with me nearly 200 days over the past 37 seasons and one of his favorite ways to spend a day is exploring new water. As for myself, I've dunked minnows and lures in over 300 different bodies of water in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan's U.P. so finding "new water" to fish is often not easy to find.
The lake we targeted rests in the far northern corner of Vilas County and I had no idea where a launch site might be located, or even if there was one! Fortunately I knew of friends who would know and a quick stop at John and Ann's home allowed us to head in the right direction.
The weatherman did improve conditions a tad and presented us with bright, sunny skies. But a fearsome raging, raw northwest wind kept temperatures under sixty after a morning low of 26. Our "new lake" was beautiful and loaded with what looked like excellent fish holding structure, which my fish-finder confirmed existed below our boat. But what we were after had a severe case of lockjaw and six hours of steady fishing only netted two perch! Several other boatloads of anglers confirmed our suspicions - "they ain't hitting!" However, I shall return, as I have a feeling the lake will produce when conditions are right!
Don and Bob treated Peggy and I to a delightful steak dinner at Clear View Lodge later that evening, which helped ease the minor pain of our crushing defeat earlier in the day.
My Chicago pals had one more day to redeem themselves on Monday. After breakfast at Wolf Pack Café we headed for what is left of the Rainbow Flowage. Low water conditions due to our ongoing drought and construction on the bridge over the dam at the outlet have left what is normally a huge body of water looking like a California reservoir.
But low water means the fish are congregated in what deeper water still exists and once those "holes" are located catching can often be rather simple.
Clear skies and a gentle southwest wind sent the early morning 29 degrees soaring into the 60s. We discovered a "hot spot" about 9:00 a.m. and by 10:30 we were motoring back to the launch site with our limit of nine chunky walleye and the memory of another half-dozen we had caught for fun and released! Yes, my guys certainly did redeem themselves!
We spent several hours in the afternoon on a small, shallow lake looking for a few crappie, but it was still too early for that species. We did catch one "slab" and a few 'gills, sunfish, bass and northern, which we released.
Early Tuesday morning my companions packed up and headed south, with a few fillets and lots of fond memories from the opener of 2009.
As for me, I also packed up and boarded JR's truck for a three-day catfish fishing expedition on the Fox River. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it!
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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