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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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April 25, 2019

4/6/2019 7:30:00 AM
Natural Reaction
Buckshot 'B' sides
Jacob Friede
of The Lakeland Times

The extensive interview I conducted with Leon "Buckshot" Anderson for a feature story published recently in the Lakeland Times, was like an awesome history class. He absolutely grew up with the Northwoods as we know it and his fascinating tale is like legend itself.

But even after living such an interesting life as a writer, fisherman, and philosopher, Anderson, at heart, is an everyday outdoorsmen. He's got his favorite species to pursue and he's had his share of ups and downs on the water, and he loved passing on his passions to his children. Here are a cool few side facts about Anderson, the "guy" that didn't make it into the formal piece about Anderson the "guide."

First off, he's a duck hunter, and views that sport as the ultimate of all hunting pursuits.

"If I had to pick only one sport, one thing it would be duck hunting," Anderson said. "I just love the getting up in the morning and seeing the world wake up and just to watch the ducks come in and work the decoys."

As far as fishing, his favorite target is the hidden treasure of the trickiest streams - the brook trout.

"There's a difference between guiding and fishing," Anderson said. "If I want to go out and enjoy a day of fishing, what do I do? Brook trout. That would be my ultimate because they are native fish, they're the most tasty, and they're the most pretty. And they're in places where most people don't want to go."

The biggest musky Anderson has ever caught was 48 inches and 29 1/2 pounds. Though that's not the biggest he's seen.

One day, on Dead Pike Lake, after limiting out on walleye very early, Anderson, along with a client and his son, decided to go back out and cast for musky. They didn't have musky gear because they had been on a walleye trip, but they tied on steel leaders and number four spinners and tried their luck for a big fish anyway.

"I thought I'd throw one out there in the deep water. I throw it way out there and made about four cranks and I seen the water hump up behind," Anderson said. "Kept working it. Kept working it. Finally got it up to the boat. Well over a 50- inch fish."

Anderson could see the fish had taken the whole spinner and was quite confident he had it well hooked as only the end of the leader was showing out of its mouth. Then tragedy struck as he was about to gaffe it.

"Just as I'm going to come down, he opens his mouth, he shook his head and my leader came out. The snap had some how opened on the leader and he was shaking his head and he twisted the snap so it came out of the hook," Anderson recalled. "It was like somebody had kicked me in the belly for like two days after that."

Even the greats have one that got away. But they, like the rest us, find redemption.

Anderson and his son Chris were on separate boats on the Wisconsin River one day and not long after going different ways he heard the rumble of his son's boat making its way back to Anderson's boat.

Chris Anderson pulled up beside his father with a 50 1/2 inch, 30 1/2 pound musky.

"Holy crap," was all Anderson could say.

The fish, it turns out, had gone through the net on the first attempt to land it so his son and fishing partner ended up picking the fish up out of the water and throwing it in the boat, saving themselves from the horrible regret that cursed Anderson when he lost his monster.

So it may have taken a generation, but an Anderson finally had a 50-inch musky.

"He has caught a bigger musky than his grandfather or his father," Anderson said of his son.

Legacy cannot be calculated by a tape measure, but on that day, in particular, it was clear that as a father, which is the ultimate guide, Anderson did it right.

"I never considered myself doing anything special," he said. "I just went out and did my job everyday and did the best I could and I guess that's what that counts."

Jacob Friede may be reached at or

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