Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For May 22nd, 2009 Edition.
The weather this spring was so lousy I began to panic worrying my annual catfish fishing expedition to the fabled Fox River might not take place! But despite my fear the long anticipated event finally fell into place three weeks later than usual, and going later is much better than not going at all. And at my age, the "going and being there" actually creates more positive vibrations than any catching that takes place.
My long time pal and catfish fishing companion, JR DeWitt, and I have experienced more "wild goose chases" than either of us care to recall, but our annual trip to the Fox River has always been "a sure thing." For the past dozen springs we've been guests of another pal of ours, John Keipe, who owns a stunningly magnificent chunk of land along the Fox River just a hop, skip and a jump downstream from Lake Puckaway in Marquette County. The densely forested parcel supports many massive old growth oak, maple and aspen as well as an assortment of other hardwoods, plus red cedar and white pine. Our bunkhouse is a 100 plus year old vintage style fishing and hunting cabin most serious outdoorspersons would give part of their right arm to own, which was built by John's grandfather well before any current occupants were gleams in their father's eye!
The lower level contains a combination living-dining- kitchen area, one bedroom and a large screened-in-porch overlooking the peaceful flowing Fox River. Upstairs there are two bedrooms for the two anglers from up north. There is no inside plumbing, but a modern "one-holer" is but a few yards distance from the back door of the cabin. John has modernized somewhat by installing a gas range of 1940s vintage and automatic gas heat. The cabin is a genuine historic artifact crammed full of fond memories concerning fish, deer, ducks and more recently - turkey.
Fishing the Fox for cats, plus all the other native species that inhabit the wide, sluggish stream, can be accomplished by two basic methods. Most anglers fish from a boat, but many lazy nimrods practice an ancient method commonly referred to as "bank fishing."
John, JR and I generally bank fish, which states mountains about how serious we approach the sport. Fishing is supposed to foster relaxation, and we have become masters at the art during our excursions to the Fox! Folding lawn chairs double as comfortable bank side seating and deluxe metal "rod holders" support our fishing rods allowing our hands to hold a can of beer or an expensive cigar - or both, while we wait for an unsuspecting fish to suck up our worms or minnows. And if catching is slow or non-existent, experienced anglers such as ourselves can lean back and take a short nap between fish. Ah yes, life is good on the banks of the historic Fox!
Whether the fish bite or not Ma Nature provides a constant floorshow for everyone's eyes and ears. The sky above the river valley is filled with numerous birds of every size and description that flit hither and yon hour after hour. Geese, sandhill cranes, blue herons, turkey vultures, eagles, redwing blackbirds, cardinals, osprey, and many smaller "little brown birds" are in constant motion and highly vocal. Boatloads of friendly anglers occasionally zoom by and wave at the relaxing seniors slumped in their lawn chairs. And surprisingly, we somehow always catch a few fish!
Our day normally begins about 5:00 a.m. with several cups of fresh brewed java sipped between relaxed conversations around John's kitchen table. About six we round up our rods and small tackle boxes and amble down to the riverbank to test the waters. Fish that are caught are placed in a large rectangular wire live box to be cleaned at day's end.
Somewhere around nine we find ourselves seated at Aunt Judy's Café located just south of Princeton on Hwy 73 extinguishing our morning hunger pangs with whatever our taste buds dictate selected from an extensive breakfast menu.
After breakfast a stop at the local bait shop is generally in order to rebuild our supply of nightcrawlers and or minnows for our afternoon contest with the fish of the Fox. And it is rare indeed if we do not find some additional and highly necessary fishing accessories to purchase, which will add to the already existing clutter in our tackle boxes.
After returning to John's rustic cabin, rather than returning to our bank side lawn chairs, we might opt to take a walk to the site of an ancient Indian campsite on John's property and hunt for arrowheads and other relics from the past. And even if we fail to discover any treasure, the exercise is of value.
Generally a nap is in order sometime shortly after noon to prepare our body and mind for the upcoming afternoon battle with the Cat's of the Fox. And knowing no phone will ring or will any other sounds of civilization interrupt our slumber, sleep is guaranteed to be of the highest quality.
Serious fishing - well - fishing - resumes about twoish and continues until about five - which of course is cocktail time. Our chilled liquid internal appetite simulators must wait until our catch is cleaned outside the cabin on John's handy-dandy fish cleaning table. Electric fillet knives speed the job to completion and a hand pump supplies fresh cold water with which to wash the fillets. The finished products end up in zip-loc bags in the electric frig for safekeeping.
One of our evening meals generally consists of charcoal grilled steaks with all the condiments. On other evenings we may opt to fry some of our freshly caught catch, or whip up a simple but tasty meal from ingredients obtained at the Princeton Piggy-Wiggly.
This spring our two-day tally consisted of walleye, channel cats, carp, sheephead and one lone perch. We converted the walleye into fillets to be pan-fried at a later date and the cats, carp and "rockheads" were cleaned to make them ready for smoking.
Once back home again I prepared a brine to soak the smokers for 12 hours and then spent six hours the following day carefully watching our bountiful catch slowly turn to a smoked golden brown. The smoked fish is run through a meat grinder, then mixed with a wide variety of spices and secret ingredients to create a delightful taste treat Pop Dean called "smoked fish pate."
Spread on crackers - "It's ooohhhhh soooo yummy!"
Ah yes - life is 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: 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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