Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring Fishing Rituals

April is the month the good Lord gave us fisherman a time to reset ourselves and prepare for the next great event, fishing opener. Back in Eleva April meant one thing............sucker fishing! Eleva is situated at the point where Big Creek meets the Buffalo River. About a third of a mile above this point, Big Creek has a dam forming the Eleva Mill Pond. This stretch of Big Creek below the dam created the perfect spawning habitat for a number of fish which entered from the river, however most of them were white suckers. Two hundred yards downstream from the dam lived Bud Tollefson. His property bordered the creek on the north and west sides and where it formed a corner heading south was a perfect hole for sucker fishing. A Zebco 202 on a solid fiberglass rod with a single hook loaded with garden worms was the ticket. Sticking a Y shaped stick into the bank we'd cast it out and wait for the tugs. Sucker meat is quite sweet and delicious however they are very bony and one almost needs to grind them up into fish patties to eat them. For this reason we released almost every fish and over those years I imagine the numbers between Kevin Aiona, Barry Kolden, and myself had to be in the thousands.

On the other side of the creek was the Doughboy Chicken Plant. Monday through Friday would see the factory running full bore, butchering chickens for the local markets. There was always a lot of water used in the processing and often the excess would run into the creek across from Bud's. This water generated from the area where the chicken entrails (guts) where stored in 55 gallon drums, awaiting the local rendering company to pick them up and turn them into mink food. The pond was always stocked with trout and inevitably some would end up over the dam into the creek below. Occasionally the water would have small chunks of entrails, often the livers. Art Kelley worked at the Chicken Plant and as kids he was always messing with our heads. He would often tell us about the legend of Ol' Liver Lips, an escaped rainbow trout that lived where this water entered the creek, which had gotten rather large on the diet of washed down chicken livers. Of course, he would often tell us that he had Ol' Liver Lips on but it got away every time. There was always a few nice trout caught below the damn however Art would never confirm whether they were the legend. Art created the illusion of anticipation every time we fished Bud's. The Chicken plant is long since closed and Art died of a heart attack at a very young age yet Ol' Liver Lips still swims giving us that anticipation of catching the monster every time we put the line in the water.

Looking back I still think of Bud, who has since passed away, and the welcome mat he put out for us kids. Because his house was in the creek bottom, we would cross his lawn, set up on the grass, and fish as though it belonged to us. Bud never said a word and often stopped by to see what was biting. I am afraid our attitudes about kids, liability, our need for privacy would prevent such a scene repeated today. I am grateful to grown up in such a wonderful small community with mentors like Art and Bud.

An interesting side note, I have my Chinese business associates in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning. They are from Taiwan and originally wanted to come in February until I told CK how cold it would be. He is not very fond of temperatures under 60 degrees. We will take him out for steak on Thursday night however he asked if we could have a barbecue at my house on Friday. I always like showing off the Midwestern hospitality and will give him a real Eleva style meal featuring Flip Flop Chicken. I have this small flipflop charcoal grill that makes charcoaled chicken almost as good as Walt Gehring did for the Eleva Broiler Fest. The grill is made in Bloomer Wisconsin ( http://www.flipflopgrill.com/ ) and is a must for any serious cook that grills chicken. Washed down with a little Leinenkugels, I cannot imagine how it would get any better! I will also plan on taking them to Cabela's where they are amazed one can simply pick up a gun and take it home with them. The wide variety of weapons, camouflage clothing, knives, and sporting goods are simply not available in Taiwan. We have an envious lifestyle for sure.


Anonymous said...

Thanks again Dave for the great memories of the past. Mr Ark was quite a guy and we all beleived him and tried for years to catch that 30 pound rainbow trout. Then for Bud, can beleive he never said anything about all the dead grass where our asses would sit for hours.Those suckers were also very good for pickeling, and again fishing in the old river ya just never know what ya might catch, right

later from the old fisherman

Dragon's Den said...

Dave, maybe you could a fishing lesson in one of you post. as i green hand, i'd like to know about the finishing skills, tools and different types of finish. this maybe too easy for you to make a demonstration.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave,
Rog and I both loved the article and have a clear picture in our minds of Dad...he spent hours back there himself, but loved seeing kids use the creek as well. Your page is 'awesome', but I never get anything else done when I start reading...your talents never cease to amaze me. Keep up the good work!

Dave Anderson said...


Thank you for the comments. Eleva had many people including your Mom and Dad who had a positive influence that reached far beyond their own families. they were always one of my favorite houses to go to as I delivered the paper for years.

Take care!