Frank Gorichanaz fishing the High Falls Flowage around 1949.
Fishin' for pike with Frank and Mike
Remembering dads and their flair for outdoors advice.
Over the years there is one group of fish that has always been my target, even though I have not always been able to catch them. These objects of my desire are the northern and the musky. Since I grew up in Wisconsin, this obsession with pike was reinforced almost every time I looked on the walls of gas stations and sporting goods stores.
I also remember gawking out the window of our family car as we drove past barns covered with huge gaping northern heads. I began to add jointed pikey-minnows, daredevil spoons and big bucktail spinners to my tackle box whenever I had saved up enough money.
Since our family vacationed in northern Wisconsin, I could hardly wait to get close enough to the water to start casting with my hand-me-down steel rod outfitted with 15-pound test line, a steel leader and my latest lure acquisition. I wanted to catch that big pike. But all I caught were panfish, bass and walleye.
The closest I came to catching a musky happened when I cast from a pier at a cabin my folks had rented for a week in northern Wisconsin. A huge musky (it grows in my mind every time I think about it) followed my bait up to the pier several times before finally tiring of it and slowly waving goodbye to me with its tail.
My dad and I fished together on family vacations, but he didnít seem interested in spending very much time fishing at other times of the year. But one of our neighbors, Frank Gorichanaz, was an avid fisherman and his son, Mike, and I were close friends.
Mike and I used to pour over Frankís old issues of hunting and fishing magazines that he kept in the attic. When Frank finally asked my folks if I could go fishing with him and Mike, I didnít know it at the time, but I really had two dads teaching me what it meant to be a man and a father.
The areas we fished were mainly close to Milwaukee and generally day trips where we caught bullheads, bass and bluegill with equal frequency. But when we went to Horicon Marsh to fish specifically for northern, Frank and Mike caught all the fish.
This became a running joke and we tried all sorts of tricks to get me to land a pike. Mike and I both had spinning gear with identical line, rigged with identical spoons and we even went to the extreme of casting to the same area and then counting the cranks of retrieve so that we brought them in simultaneously. The only thing that was different was that Mike was right handed and Iím a lefty. Still, no northern for me, while on several occasions Mike and Frank caught their limits.
Since that time I have broken the dry spell during vacation trips with my family and friends to Canada, Minnesota, Nebraska and northern Wisconsin. Today I live in northwest Wisconsin and have been able to regularly catch northern and musky. I'm still thrilled by the strikes and charging runs of my favorite predators.
It has been many years since Mike and I have fished together and Frank passed away several years ago, but every time I land a pike, I think about the time and energy that Frank invested to teach me about fishing as I struggled to get that first northern to bite.
Ed Peters writes from Loretta, Wis.