Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For July 4th, 2008 Edition.
It goes without saying tourism is the lifeblood of the north. Visitors I refer to as “repeaters” are extra special folks who, in my opinion, should be given the red carpet treatment every time they vacation in our area. One such group I’d like to honor is the Brown/Vernon Clan of Evanston, Illinois.
I recently spent three memorable days with four members of the clan, which brought the total number of days I’ve fished with them to 658! Now that’s a good example of “repeater” vacationers!
Ed Brown Sr. ventured north for the first time in 1919 at the age of 18. He arrived in Eagle River via train then boarded a buckboard for a long journey over rutted sand roads to Rismon’s Resort on Ballard Lake. Young Ed was awestruck by the raw beauty of the landscape, which unfortunate was rapidly being reduced to “slashings” by hundreds of lumberjacks.
Mr. Brown continued to return to the northwoods he so loved for the next 69 years, often spending as much as six or seven weeks during the spring, summer and fall seasons. He rapidly became addicted to the sport of fishing, especially bass, and plied his skills often and successfully on many different bodies of water with many of the areas legendary guides.
Soon after Ed took a bride, Rose, he brought her north and infected her with bass fishing fever. I was first introduced to Ed and Rose shortly after WW II. I was a passenger in my dad’s boat on Big Muskellunge Lake one fine June day shortly after bass season opened. Dad’s client suggested taking me along as excess baggage. Our boat happened to pass Mike Froelich’s boat, which also contained Ed and Rose Brown. My memory of the event is vague and fleeting, but Ed and Rose often recounted their memory of the “little skinny boy sitting in the middle seat of his dad’s boat with his bare feet dangling in the water.”
I was first privileged to row a boat for Ed and Rose in July of 1961. Between that date and 1987, which was the last year Ed Sr. came north, we spent exactly 200 days together chasing various species of fish, -- but mostly bass.
Ed and Rose produced two children, Ed Jr. and “Posie.” The daughter married Bill Vernon, which resulted in six offspring. Ed Jr. married Mary Ann, which produced nine offspring. I shall not dwell on the mathematical progression concerning the multiplying factor that resulted in many more Browns and Vernons, except to say there were and are lots of them!
Ed Sr. selected Ed Gabe’s Lost Lake Resort as his home away from home. He began staying there in the early 1920s and continued the tradition until the establishment ceased being an American Plan resort in 1977. From then on their annual vacation destination has been Froelich’s Sayner Lodge.
As the numbers increased in the Brown/Vernon Clan so did the number of days guides were required to accommodate all those who wished to spend some time on the water. For many years it was the custom for Ed Jr’s family to spend a week at Gabe’s followed by Bill Vernon’s family arriving for a week. Ed Sr. and Rose spent both weeks managing the ever-increasing number of clan members. There were some years when the total number of vacationers exceeded thirty!
I feel very honored that I was able to help introduce many of the siblings, son-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even a couple of great-great-grandchildren to the joys of angling! Tim, Ned, John, Peter, Peggy, Katie, Jean, Susan, Luellan, Mimi, Mike, Christopher, Joe, Mary Ann, Mark, and oh so many more delighted me with their presence on many outings!
But, as always as time marches on, kids grow up, go off to school, get married, move away, etc, etc. Gradually the numbers that could come north for the annual vacations dwindled. But still the tradition continues.
Ed Jr. and his wife, Mary Ann, still arrive at Froelich’s Sayner Lodge every June. Accompanied by son Ned and his daugher, Christine, the local fish are still targeted for several days.
Since the time when the tradition of having both sides of the family spend a week at Gabe’s ended after the 1977 season, the Brown’s and Vernon’s have continued to organize their own vacations up north.
Tim Vernon, the oldest son of Bill and Posie, has his own little piece of heaven on earth just across Lost Creek from the Anderson residence. Here in a secluded cozy log cabin the members of the Vernon side of the clan gather from time to time throughout the summer season to “keep the tradition” alive. Annually my calendar always has a few days marked with the name “Vernon.”.
As expected the amount of memories that I’ve accumulated over the past nearly five decades I’ve spent with the two families is endless. In the remaining space available for this narrative allow me to share a sample of my most cherished ones.
Ed Sr. and Rose loved to explore “new” small bass lakes. In 1971 we established a personal record, which still stands to this day. The three of us fished five different “new” lakes in one day! What did we catch? Not much, except for more memories and lots of laughs!
Bill Vernon’s Day of Fame and Glory took place in August of 1969 on Partridge Lake. Bill boated his limit of five bass that hit the scales at eighteen and a half pounds while Ed Sr. and the guide could only catch little dinky ones!
Rose hated northern pike and musky. She called them “stinkies.” While doing battle with what she expected to be a world-class bass, a battle that covered many minutes, she was horrified to discover a beautiful tiger musky on the end of her line. It was the only one she ever caught in four decades of angling and often stated, “I hope I never catch another big stinky.”
How about the day Ned Brown caught a twenty-pound musky on a rubber worm! That’s a unique memory!
Ed Sr. rarely used anything for bait than live chubs. One day on Frank Lake when chubs were not the food of choice Ed Jr. began hauling in fish after fish on artificial lures. We finally convinced Ed Sr. to try a lure. Almost immediately he hooked and landed a nice sized bass. He then sat quietly in the rear seat as though in deep concentration. After a few seconds he spoke. “ I can’t believe it. I actually caught a bass on a fake bait!”
I could go on and on, but time and space will not allow me to. So, I’d like to close by saying my most cherished memories concern the deep and continuing friendships that have been cemented between members of the Brown/Vernon Clan and myself! Thanks to all of you and may the party continue!
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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