Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For January 15th, 2010 Edition.

While paging through my daily fishing diaries gathering information for inclusion in my 9th and newest book "Sixty Years Between the Oars, (which should be available by early March) my memory was stimulated by the number of entries concerning items that ended up on someone's hook besides fish!.

The seven school terms I spent in Florida between 1960 and '66 allowed me to wet a line quite frequently with family and friends and accounted for some highly unusual catches.

A good pal and frequent fishing buddy, Frank Jessup, won the battle with a three-foot alligator that made the mistake of latching on to Frank's Beatle Spin lure. Frank stuffed the feisty retile in his beer cooler, took it to a taxidermist and had the trophy mounted. "Al the Alligator" became the centerpiece on Frank's coffee table in his family's living room.

While fishing from the bank one evening while on an Easter break camping trip along the St. Johns River one of the teenager campers hooked into something very big and very powerful. During the twenty-minute battle numerous creatures were suggested as to what was on the end of the kid's line, which ranged from "A big ole gar, to a big ole turtle." The mystery battler turned out to be a young manta ray about three feet in diameter! This unusual catch wound up as buzzard food.

Over the past six decades I've been on board ship when at least two-dozen rods and reels have taken an unexpected plunge into Davy Jones Locker. Of that number we've been able to retrieve all but two! The keys to success in snagging an overboard rod and reel depends on two important pieces of equipment plus quick reflexes.

Item number one is a "fishing spot marker." As soon as the rod and reel hits the drink the marker must be tossed overboard as near to where the rod and reel disappeared as possible. The next item or items are heavy metal spoon type lures with large treble hooks or simple weighted treble hooks. These are the retrieving tools and should be attached to a rod and reel or multiple rods and reels, containing strong line. By casting the weighted treble hooks or lures over the area where the lost rod and reel is located, letting the weighted hooks sink and then very slowly reeling while the hooks drag along the bottom, the success rate of recovery is very high.

Sometimes there is a delay in recovering a lost rod and reel. On May 6, 1967 Wes Pavalon dropped his new Ambassador 5000 reel and Heddon Pal rod overboard into 17 feet of water on Escanaba Lake. It was late in the evening and impending darkness caused us to give up the search. However, when I picked up my fishing spot marker I used obvious landmarks on the shore to triangulate the exact sport where the rod and reel was lost.

Back then I fished Escanaba Lake frequently and every time I returned to its waters my clients and I would spend fifteen or twenty minutes dragging weighted treble hooks along the bottom, without success. But on June 20th Herb Peters hit pay dirt and the algae covered Ambassador and its Heddon Pal companion once again saw the light of day.

I cleaned the pair and presented them to Mr. Pavalon later that summer, much to his surprise and delight!

Twice I've temporarily lost rods and reels that were pulled overboard by a fish. I have a nasty habit of reeling my line in when a client is landing a fish. I place my rod and reel behind me with the butt on one gunwale and the rod on the other. The problem lies when too much line is hanging from the tip of the rod and the bait or lure dangles in the water. Bass love to swim to the surface and grab the temping snack, then dive for the bottom taking the rod and reel along for the ride!

Both times I was very lucky to snag the runaway rod and reel and actually retrieved the thief that took it on both occasions!

On rare occasions someone in my boat snags a rod and reel that wasn't recovered by the original owner. Tim Vernon fought a good fight with what he first thought was a sluggish but heavy fish one afternoon on the Wisconsin River. Tim's fish turned out to be a fairly new spinning reel and rod. Once cleaned of sand and sludge the rig worked fine.

Just last August Hank Schlecting and I were fishing for walleye and smallmouth on an area lake when I snagged what at first I thought was a tough weed. The tough weed turned out to be someone's fishing line, which isn't all that rare. After I unhooked my hook from the line and began pulling on it I realized this wasn't just a short section of line that had broken or been carelessly tossed overboard by some slob.

I hand over handed about twenty yards of very heavy mono when the tip of a rod broke the surface. I carefully took hold of the salvaged rod and lifted it into my boat. It was a very expensive Ambassador 6500C and a St. Croix musky rod that obviously had not been in the water very long! All of the line had been stripped from the reel but fortunately the previous owner had securely tied the line to the shaft. As I began to retrieve the remainder of the line I realized whatever was on the other end was stuck to the bottom of the lake. It was then I spied a lone oarsman in a sleek row troller heading in my direction at full throttle!

The angler was my good and long time friend, Art Long, and he and a companion had lost the rod the previous day! All I can say is I was happy to see a joyous reunion between the rod and reel and its rightful owner! How's that for a unique coincident?

Besides rods and reels I've recovered a few other unusual items. It was once again with Herb Peters on Escanaba Lake in June of 1972 when we spotted some sort of shiny object on the bottom of the lake in about eight or nine feet of water. What was highly unusual about the object was the fact it was slowly moving along the bottom of the lake! I told Herb to keep his eyes on the object while I readied a heavy treble hook on my musky rod for an attempt to retrieve the mystery object.

I was successful on the first attempt and brought to the surface a metal chain stringer, complete with three northern pike and three walleye attached and still kicking! As I recall the fish tasted extra good!

The most memorable item I ever recovered took place late one afternoon in July1974 on the Wisconsin River. Millie Nagdeman, Bob Kramer and I were slowly working our way back to the primitive boat landing to call it a day. The sun was bright, radiating from a cloudless royal blue sky, which was the reason I spotted the mystery item.

A glint of light beneath the brownish stained water caught my eye and I rowed over to investigate. Whatever the object might be was too deep to be identified in the dark water. But whatever it was it seemed to be fairly large and five or six feet beneath the boat. I hooked the object with my usual retrieval gear, only to have the 25-pound test line snap. Whatever was down there was mighty heavy! Next I tied my anchor rope to the handle of my metal gaff hook and slung that overboard. On the third or fourth try the hook stuck fast!

It took nearly all my strength to lift the mystery item into view. And what a surprise it was. We had found a yellow Kawasaki motorcycle!

I was able to finally raise the bike high enough to grab the handlebars. Bob started my outboard and slowly motored us to the bank where I waded out and rolled the cycle up on dry land. Fortunately, we were only about fifty yards from my truck, so I pushed the monster down the bank and tied it to my snowplow hoist on the front of my truck. This is how I brought it home.

Our son, Chris, was then nearing his 15th birthday and when he saw the motorcycle hanging on the front of my truck he was delirious with job thinking it was his birthday present!

A call to the Vilas County Sheriff's Department resulted in locating the young man who owned the missing cycle. It had been stolen from a supper club where he worked several nights earlier and I'm happy to say this story, like Art Long's rod and reel, had a happy ending.

Keep Castin', you never know what might end up on the end of your line!

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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