Monday, July 21, 2008

Ed Enos, Smoked Carp...An Evening From The Past

Eleva Wisconsin was not much different than many midwestern towns established in the late 1800's to early 1900's. Nestled in a river valley had many advantages, flat and expansive flood plains left over from the glacial times made excellent farm land. Availability of water to power grist and saw mills, as well as means to transport goods such as logs, furs, and other goods was vital. Of course rivers also did a great job of being a convenient sewer for those living by them. These valley's became natural corridors for the rail roads as they expanded. Eleva sits at the junction of the Buffalo River and Big Creek. The Buffalo River is a confused river. There are 4 major communties associated with this river valley. Osseo is on the upper end, then Strum, Eleva, and Mondovi before it cuts to the southwest through some of the most beautiful bluff country in the US finally meeting up with the Mississippi River. Upstream from Strum the river is called the Beef River. Downstream from Strum it may be referred to the Beef however it is better known as the Buffalo River until it finally empties into Beef Slough at the Mississippi confluence. The Buffalo River is a relatively clean sand bottomed river that literally winds it's way traveling 2 miles for every mile of real distance. There are many oxbow sloughs and swamps, remains of the river's ever changing course. Around Eleva, it's fish include suckers, carp, redhorse, sheepshead, catfish, northerns and the occasional trout escaped from the local streams and planted mill ponds. My best fishing buddy was (and still is) Kevin Aiona. We would exploit every aspect of this. As stated in my "about me" we would dig worms on the south side of building while there was still snow on the ground to hit the early sucker and redhorse run. Often we would get a nice carp, which was a special bonus. Carp were excellent fighters often challenging the basic equipment that we used. Kevin's grandpa was Ed Enos. Ed was the local barber for probably 50 years. There were many guys past 50 whom Ed probably gave them their first haircut. Ed had a small shop on mainstreet and himself was a legendary fisherman. He had the foresight to plant nightcrawlers behind his shop which eventually became the premier spot for catching bait during a rainstorm. Ed could also smoke carp turning it into a bonifide delicacy in the area. Although his recipe was simple, mix salt and water till an egg floats, soak the carp overnight and smoke till done, few had the process down to produce what Ed could do. Any carp that we caught in cold clear water of the Buffalo River in the spring was destined for Ed. On Sunday night I decide to fish a local lake near my home. Driving away I stopped by my neighbors house only to see his riding lawnmower start on fire. Running home I retrieved my extingisher and promptly dispatched the flames before it totally engulfed the machine. Having killed 40 minutes, I had lost my travel advantage and decided to simply fish the Mississippi River behind my house. I live about 2 blocks from the river and can get access through many of my friends that have river lots. With nightcrawlers, simple tackle, a cooler with a few beers, and a pack of sunflower seeds I headed to one of the docks along the river. My first fish was a small fiddler cat (small channel cat) which poked me good with one of it's side barbs. I bled like a stuck pig as it was a bad reminder of how hurtful these little buggers can be. After missing 2 more I finally had a substantial hit. Setting the hook the fish took off like a torpedo. I had completely forgotten how exciting a carp can be. After a 5 minute battle I landed this 8 pound carp. The night ended with another nice catfish before the sun totally set. The carp is destined for either the smoker or eventually helping my garden's general well being. Either way Ed would understand and be proud that we carry on the traditions. It's funny what can bring you back to 12 years old again.


Anonymous said...

Thanks David for the memories of old, we really think of it as just yesterday but in reality it was quite awhile ago. Those are still the memories that we today try to relate to our children to carry on some of those things that we done as young men. thanks again buddy

Anonymous said...

I now know why you are Super Dave! Nice story and I (Sam in China) like it :) Thanks Dave!

Anonymous said...

I'M from Winona although haven't been back there for 35 years. Fished the Mississipi all my child hood. Caught a lot of those fidlers, an got stuck many times. We also used to fish with yellow bellies for walleyes. Don't know if they still do-if they stick you you are in pain.
I loved Millacs-used to follow the launches out with my boat.