Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For August 14th, 2009 Edition.
During a recent fishing expedition one of my clients caught a clam, which isn't all that unusual when fishing in lakes or streams where the ancient animals are plentiful.
Catching a clam generally occurs while an angler's lure, sinker or bait is resting on the bottom of the river or lake. Clams, which slowly crawl along the lake or river bottom, use their tough, slimy tongues to propel themselves as they search for food. If the angler's fishing line, sinker or lure come in contact with the clam's tongue it will "clamp onto" the object and can be pulled aboard ship. Clam catchers generally receive generous amounts of good-natured kidding for hauling in a lowly clam.
The above-mentioned event rekindled a memory of what I refer to as "The Great Clam Transplant", which took place in 1948 when I was eleven years old. The details of which follow.
Two pals of mine were also participants in the clandestine operation, Johnny and Eddie Petras of Chicago, who were up north with their parents on a short summer vacation. The three of us were fishing together for perch on Kasomo Lake when for no apparent reason our young minds began wondering why Kasomo Lake had so much mud in it compared to, let's say, Big St. Germain Lake. After considering all the known scientific facts about the two lakes we somehow came up with the conclusion the answer was "clams."
Knowing that the bottom of Kasomo was muddy and lacked clams, and Big Saint's bottom was sandy and rocky and housed an abundance of clams, we concluded clams must eat mud and muck. (Little did we know our line of reasoning would parallel that of Al Gore years later!)
We decided we'd do Kasomo Lake a favor and begin the process of reducing the amount of mud on its bottom. We reeled in our lines and rowed back to the dock at my parent's resort. Using stealth and deceit, we confiscated mom's washtub, dad's wheelbarrow, hip boots, waders and pitchfork, plus uncle Bud's hip boots. Fifteen minutes later we were at the banks of Lost Creek ready to begin our careers as environmentalists.
Our plan was simple, yet effective. Johnny and I, being the oldest, would wear the oversized rubber hip boots, while Eddie slipped into dad's oversized waders. The pitchfork would be the instrument to remove the clams from the gravel on the bottom of the creek and Eddie's waders would be the container in which to imprison the clams until we had enough to fill the washtub. As each clam was pried loose from it native home Eddie would hold open his baggy waders and we'd toss in the clam. Our clam harvesting skills rapidly progressed and three hours later we arrived at the location where our clam container and transport vehicle awaited our return.
It was here where we received the first hint our plan of operation was somewhat flawed. While Eddie was wading downstream with our load of clams the current and buoyancy of the water allowed him to walk, or perhaps "waddle" might be a better label, fairly easily. But once he attempted to navigate on dry land the load of clams was too much for his young, short legs! And beside, his bulging waders now made Eddie resemble a combination of the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Michelin Man and the Goodyear Blimp! Adding to that picture, Eddie was also complaining about pain in his lower extremities and a rank odor emanating from dad's waders!
Our only remedy was for Johnny and I to fetch the washtub, carry it to where Eddie resided prostate on the ground and extract each clam from the waders, one at a time. It was then Johnny and I also noted a very unpleasant odor escaping from within dad's prized waders!
Upon finally removing all the clams and extracting Eddie from dad's hot and now slimy interior waders we noted Eddie's pants were also wet and slimy. We surmised the clams, unhappy being cooped up in a hot pair of waders, had released much of their internal body fluids coating Eddie's trousers with a creamy coating of some unknown substance resembling flubber. Upon further investigation we discovered the insides of dad's waders were similarly encrusted with clam flubber.
I would guess few individuals have had the opportunity to smell large quantities of drying clam flubber. For those of you so inclined to wonder about such an odor - let me simply say imagine skunk spray intermixed with dead fish and you'll get an idea of what our sense of smell recorded on that memorable day!
After loading our washtub full of clams into the wheelbarrow we spent the next half-hour or so washing clam flubber out of Eddie's pants and the inside of dad's waders using the water of Lost Creek as the cleansing agent. Next, we took turns pushing our scientific experiment back to Kasomo Lake where we tried out our pitching arms tossing clams as far out into the lake as we could. I would expect the clams were not happy when they discovered their new home contained a floor of mud rather than one of sand and gravel.
After washing the insides of dad's waders with warm water and soap the disgusting odor pretty much disappeared. Fortunately for me, dad's waders dried completely before he used them again. When I told dad, mom and uncle Bud about our scientific experiment I left out the part about using the waders as a temporary clam prison. However, I did confess to the foul deed months later, which dad then found to be fairly amusing.
Well, much to the disappointment of the scientific community and the trio of junior scientists, it was discovered clams obviously do not dine on mud and muck. To this day the majority of Kasomo Lake's bottom is still covered with mud. I've searched in vane to find a clam to ask how it likes living in Kasomo Lake - but alas, there are none to be found. Maybe they all moved back to Lost Creek!
(The entire uncut version of this daring experiment is revealed in my second book, "Growing Up Isn't ALL Fishing and Hunting.")
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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