Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For September 11th, 2009 Edition.

The ultimate verbal description of a great day of fishing often begins with, "They were jumping in the boat!" But how often does that highly unlikely situation actually take place? I'd venture a small wager the truth is - not very often.

But on rare occasions fish actually do jump in the boat. During my 5000 plus days on the water over the past six plus decades that rarity has taken place three times - each of which makes for what I consider a great fishing tale!

I've witnessed and listened to a number of "fish jumping in the boat" tales, but one such incident that happened to my dad and his clients back in the late 1940s tops the charts!

A gentleman in the middle seat hooked into a musky about 20-pounds. As the battle raged dad readied his .22-revolver for an eventual battle ending shot. The fish made a run at the boat and launched itself skyward landing in the lap of the guy who was fighting the fish! He dropped his rod and flipped the musky back in the lake, then picked up his rod and finished the fight!

Later that afternoon when the conquering hero's returned to our resort for a short photo session and a celebration cocktail, the successful angler showed me a large rip in his right trouser leg, then dropped his pants to show me the "scar" on his leg from one of the hooks on his bucktail that was in the mouth of the musky when it landed in his lap. To my utter surprise the guy had a wooden leg and just above his artificial knee was a small indentation from the hook! Imagine what pain and suffering the guy would have experienced had he not had a wooden leg!

My first close encounter with having a fish jump in the boat turned out to be a near miss, or what I later labeled the event "a glancing blow." The action took place on July 16, 1964 as Congressman Charlie Halleck from Indiana and his wife were casting for musky on Big St. Germain Lake. Charlie, seated in the rear seat, hooked a modest keeper near the island and was doing battle with the fish when it made a sudden run at the boat and leaped high in the air on a trajectory towards Charlie's head! Charlie's reflexes took control and he ducked just in the nick of time. The airborne musky sailed over Charlie's head and ricocheted off the top of my outboard and landed back in the water. Charlie eventually won the battle and decided to keep his would-be attacker and have it smoked at Pop and Ole Dean's fish cleaning establishment.

The first actual "one jumped in the boat" episode I personally witnessed took place on July 6, 1986 while my son, Chris, and I were enjoying a "father and son" outing. The day was sunny and bright, not one you'd select for catching a musky, but Chris was set on giving it his best shot. He did land and release a modest 30-inch tiger during our first ten minutes on the water, but for the next three hours all we could show for our efforts was exercise from casting.

I was slowly rowing towards the landing while Chris lazily cast a deep diving Cisco Kid over 20-feet of water. As he lifted his bait out of the water without watching for a following fish, which he generally did, a musky leaped skyward in an attempt to grab the lure. The musky failed to latch onto the bait but did manage to clear the gunwale and landed on Chris' feet!

I won't attempt to express in written words the wide range of emotions that engulfed both of our brains from the time the thrashing musky trespassed into private property, until we finally put it back in the lake, but I will admit there was much yelling and shouting after we both recovered from the initial shock.

The struggling fish wriggled under the rear seat, making it difficult for Chris to get a grip on it and toss it back in the drink. I climbed over the middle seat and between the two of us we finally subdued the wildly gyrating slippery beast. The fish zoomed off into the depths but by the amount of scales and protective slime remaining on the carpet of my boat we had serious doubts the fish would survive the ordeal.

Illegal entry of a boat by fish number two took place on August 7 of 1993. Bill and Karen Wheeler were enjoying a day of bass and pike fishing with me when Karen hooked a four-pound pike. She was close to whipping the fish as I reached behind me for my net to end the epic struggle. But the pike wasn't quite ready to admit defeat! Right by the side of the boat it launched itself into the air and landed unceremoniously in the bow of my boat! After a short chorus of "ho-ho-ho" and "can you believe that", we decided the jumping pike would be just right for our shore lunch.

The third and most recent "boat boarding" took place August 25th of this year. I was fishing with one of my long time friends and clients, Hank Schlicting of Forest Park, Illinois. Hank hooked a two-pound smallmouth and was having a ball fighting the battler on his ultra-light. I reeled in my line to make sure we didn't get tangled while the struggle was in progress.

Little by little the fish began to tire and due to the gin clear water we were able to watch what I thought was soon to be a totally beaten bass. Hank was fishing off the port (left) side of the boat and I had been fishing off the starboard (right) side of the boat. I turned to grab the net and caught a bronze blur out of the corner of my eye just prior to having Hank's bass belt me right in the face!

The fish had made a final desperate run under the boat, then leaped skyward as Hank was putting pressure on the fish in a failed attempt to stop its run. The bass glanced off my face, (leaving my glasses all slimmed up), then fell on my knee and bounced off ending up flopping on the bottom of the boat!

To add a bit more spice to the story, the bass had no jig in its mouth, as during the jump it must have tossed the hook! Hank, who was looking in the opposite direction at his fishless jig, had no idea what was taking place behind his back and sharply voiced a negative comment concerning the fact he had lost the fish!

By then I was laughing uncontrollably and between giggles I managed to tell him to turn his head and look on the floor of the boat at his fish.

Well, we both had quite a chuckle as I cleaned my glasses and then put a fresh minnow on Hank's jig.

People often question if I get bored fishing so many days. And even though my time on the water is now much less each summer than it was when I was guiding full throttle during the first 40 years of my career, my answer is "no, I never get bored as there are never two days exactly alike." Besides having fish occasionally jump in the boat there's lots of different and exciting moments to keep boredom from setting in.

Take a kid fishing, and get 'um hooked!

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:  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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