Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson

For April 11th, 2008 Edition.

Ah, spring in the Northwoods! As I watch the huge mounds of snow surrounding our home s-l-o-w-l-y shrink and recede I keep reminding myself that what we are experiencing is actually a “normal” Northern Wisconsin spring. During the past decade we’ve been lulled into believing spring arrives when the calendar says it arrives. Where’s global warming when we need it?

But still, April is a time to plan and dream about what we’ll eventually be doing during the warm months, which are just around the corner. Outdoorpersons have much to look forward to, beginning with some open water fishing for panfish as soon as the hard water disappears. The spring turkey season begins in April, as well as an early catch and release season for trout on certain designated streams. Also, hardy souls can hit some of the U.P streams flowing into Lake Superior for those annual spring runs of trout and salmon.

Another activity to indulge in to pass the time away as the snow melts is to page through those “fishing stuff” catalogs that arrive daily along with the piles of junk mail. It seems Cabela’s, Bass Pro and Sportsman’s Guide sends me about two per week!

If your blood pressure is a bit low, attend one of the annual Fish and Game meetings sponsored by the DNR each April. I had to give up attending those meetings a number of years ago because my blood pressure usually rises upon attending them!

Those spring Fish and Game meetings do serve a purpose. They offer anglers and hunters an opportunity to have their individual opinions heard, and vent their frustrations concerning a multitude of topics related to regulations, seasons, bag limits, etc. However, frequently the will of the majority is not considered when the new rulebooks are printed.

Speaking of rulebooks, I’ll freely admit I don’t generally read through the new fishing regulations handbook that are printed anually, but last spring I did. What a shock! There was lots of “new stuff” I was totally unaware of. If one spends time on the water, I’d strongly suggest you spend an hour or two checking out this year’s edition when you buy your fishing license! Doing so might save you some big bucks should the guy in the gray uniform and the shinny badge check you out! Besides, you’ll probably be in awe of what you’ve been missing!

The rumor mill has it the DNR may be revising one of its more recent rules on the use of live bait, namely minnows. As originally written the rules on use of, transporting and trapping minnows is highly restrictive.

For years I’ve trapped minnows in a stream that flows just seventy five feet from our front door. As the rule stands now I can still trap minnows there, but I can only fish with said minnows in the same stream where I trapped them! Why? I’m not sure. I bet no one told the minnows not to swim downstream into Big St. Germain or upstream into Lost Lake where they might spread some dreaded fish disease!

The original version of the rule pretty much forces anglers to buy minnows from a licensed bait dealer. There is nothing wrong with that as most anglers already do just that. Minnow retailers must purchase their supply of minnows from a licensed wholesaler, who in turn must get his inventory inspected to make sure the minnows are disease free.

Let’s say you buy four dozen red tail chubs at Bubba’s Sport Shop for $6.00 per dozen. You and your pals drive to Area Lake and fish for two hours, but nothing but mosquitoes are biting. So, you decide to leave Area Lake and head for Lard Lake. But wait! The current rule doesn’t allow you to transport the three-dozen minnows still in your bucket to a second lake.. You have to “dispose” of them and buy another $24.00 bucks worth before heading for Lard Lake!

Now, where do you “dispose” of $18.00 worth of perfectly good minnows? It’s against the law to dump them in Area Lake. It’s also illegal to dump them on State Land. The guy who owns the property next to the boat launch probably wouldn’t be happy to have a pile of smelly minnows stinking up the atmosphere.

As you can see, the regulation is in need of repair. As is, the current rule is a nightmare for anglers, bait dealers, and our conservation officers, who have more important problems to deal with besides becoming “minnow cops.”

Over the past six decades I’ve watched the “rulebook” increase from a post card sized publication containing six or eight pages to something resembling a Sears, Roebuck catalog. Plus, there is a separate “rulebook” just for trout! You’ll need the assistance of a lawyer to figure that one out!

I’d like to share with you a short excerpt from the March 1953 edition of the “Wisconsin Conservation Bulletin”, the official publication of the Wisconsin Conservation Department, forerunner of our current DNR.

The article is entitled “Liberalized Fishing Regulations”, written by Edward Schneberger, Superintendent of Fish Management. I quote the following introduction to his lengthy article.

“About seven years ago the fish management division of the Wisconsin Conservation department inaugurated a program to simplify and unify fishing regulations.

There were a number of reasons why we felt this should be done, particularly since the regulations were becoming so lengthy, detailed and cumbersome that they were confusing even to people working out the regulations. Pity the anglers who were expected to abide by such regulations! There were also a number of regulations that were obsolete and serving no useful purpose.

An unknown sage at one time said, it is easy enough to liberalize regulations – difficulties arise only when you try to make them more restrictive.”

Mr. Schneberger’s article goes on for an additional four and a half pages, and certainly makes one yearn for a simpler, gentler time when even a young child could understand the “rulebook.” Maybe its time to return to using cane poles and angleworms, but then again, maybe we’d better check the rulebook.

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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