Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For July 2nd, 2010 Edition.

For those of you who study and pay attention to history I don't have to remind you most everything we humans do and use is continually evolving - and the sport of fishing is no exception.

Anglers who have spent five or more decades trying to outwit the underwater residents of our lakes and streams have seen a tremendous amount of change in the way fishermen attempt to put a meal of fish on their stringer. (Opps - many young anglers probably don't know what a "stringer" is, as most modern fishing boats have "live wells" which are larger than many bathtubs! But anyway, comparing stringers to live wells is a great example of the evolution in fishing equipment.)

The advance in fishing equipment technology during the past three quarters of a century is mind-boggling! Anglers who embarked on adventuresome trips north by auto during the years following World War II often carried a bundle of cane-poles atop their vehicles, which were the primary weapon to be used while fishing for any and all species - except musky.

Dad referred to cane-poles as "Milwaukee fly rods" although my mind fails to recall why. However I suspect he had a certain family from Milwaukee in mind that annually vacationed at our resort and harvested fish with that type of fishing equipment.

Early rods and reels were of the casting type. The most popular brands of reels were Pflueger, Shakespeare and South Bend plus an assortment of look-alikes sold by Montgomery Ward and Sears & Roebuck. The early model casting reels were very small by today's standard casting reels and lacked a "level wind" feature. As anglers reeled in their lure they had to move the line back and forth across the spool with their index finger or thumb to keep the line from piling up on one side of the spool!

Improvements in reels came rapidly after the mechanical level wind was added to casting reels. Topping the list were the "Cadillac" brands and models, Pflueger Supreme and Shakespeare President. Spin cast reels and open face spinning reels soon outranked casting reels in popularity, some of which were of foreign manufacture. The evolutionary race was on!

Today anglers can choose from a much wider selections of fishing reels bearing names such as Shimano, Abu Garcia, Daiwa, Quantum, Mitchell and a smattering of others.

Years ago the most popular rods were manufactured by Heddon, Shakespeare, Horrics & Ibbison (sp?) and South Bend. Those early models were made of bamboo or solid steel. The bamboo rods had about as much action as a broomstick and the steel models resembled a modern day automobile radio antenna.

Fiberglass rods made their debut in the 50s. The first models offered solid fiberglass shafts, which mirrored the action of the older bamboo rods. Next came hollow fiberglass that made rods much lighter and gave an action much like a buggy whip. Graphite and boron rods followed, which brings us to the present. Today there are dozens of rod manufacturers, most of which are Asian based.

Early casting lines were made of silk and required tender loving care to preserve their strength. After an hour or two of continuous casting anglers needed to cut off about four or five feet of the silk line and retie the lure. Constant casting greatly stressed the end of the silk lines causing them to break if you failed to remove the weakened end section. After a day of fishing, silk line needed to be stripped off the reel and "hung out to dry" to prevent rot and deterioration. Most resorts installed wooden pegs in the walls of their cabin's screened in porches for anglers to hang their silk line on to dry.

One positive result of World War II on the sport of fishing was the invention of nylon, which rapidly replaced silk as material for manufacturing fishing line. Braided nylon was to fishing what penicillin was to medicine. Next came monofilament lines and the line race was on! Today there are more brands and types of fishing line than toothpaste! Fused braid, fluorocarbon, sonic braid, power pro, plus line in all the colors of the rainbow! Now anglers can "color code" their fishing garb with their lines - or visa-versa!

Old time fishing boats were wooden "row boats" that were propelled from spot to spot via oars. Many times novice anglers - locally referred to as "greenhorns" - called oars "rows." Possibly the verbal confusion referring to moving a boat with oars by "rowing" resulted in newcomers to the sport suggesting the wooden objects that moved the boat must be rows rather than oars. However, a frequent phrase suggested "Oaring the boat" was what made the boat move.

The hulls of modern boats are manufactured using fiberglass, aluminum and Kevlar. The average size of today's typical fishing boat contains nearly as much square footage as a settler's log cabin! These behemoths are moved by one or more electric trolling motors and gas driven outboard motors sporting more horsepower that the average automobile.

Back in the "old days" Rich folks often used gas driven outboard motors to move their boats from spot to spot. Powerful one and two horsepower outboard motors rapidly became common fishing accessories during the 1930s and 40s. Dad's first outboard was a 1928 Johnson Seahorse 1.8 h.p. He used this smoke-belching mechanical monster until 1956 when he and I each purchased a new 3 h.p. Johnson from Em Froleich's Hardware Store in Sayner for the astounding amount of $89.00! Today, 89 bucks buys a week's worth of gas for the modern mega-monster boat motors!

Ah yes - how times have changed. Today the well-equipped fishing boat contains at least three or four rods per angler. Fish locators/depth finders are situated fore and aft. The battery compartment contains enough electricity producing potential to light up a Wal-Mart parking lot. An onboard GPS (Global Positioning System) can pinpoint the exact location in any body of water that once could only be re-located by MMT (Mental Memory Triangulation.) Below deck in today's fishing boats one may find bilge pumps, water pumps that supply fresh water to the aforementioned live wells. Possibly the next major advancement may be sleeping quarters for six. Spacious storage compartments hold Solunar Tables that predict when those finny monsters will feed, detailed lake maps that pinpoint each and every "hot spot" and cooling space for refreshing liquids of all sorts. Other storage compartments hold rain gear, tackle, tools and a complete angling wardrobe, including "billboard shirts" multi-pocket shorts and deck shoes.

Despite all this MMT (Marvelous Modern Technology) I still frequently hear anglers complaining they didn't catch many (or any) fish!

Some things never change!

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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