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THIS AIN’T CHICAGO

by Mark T Wayne

For a week I have endured close association with that foul animal, Loop Lonagan.  The more I learn about the man, the more I like my dog.  Now, Old Man Ludditis wants a rundown on our trip to Chicago’s hottest startup, so we’re both here at his bar, drinking his liquor.

The Lonagan creature slobbers with enthusiasm to tell the story.  “Dis place’s way up dare,” he says in his ungrammatical vernacular as he slides across the first photograph from the trip.  Yes, this place is way up there—that much is true.  It’s northern Manitoba, the 55th parallel, where we enjoy cool weather in the summer, and it never gets entirely dark.

But the creature’s mouth is running on.  “No roads!  Just trees ‘n’ lakes fer hunerds o’ miles.”  

I agree with that statement.

“It’s the only lodge on a huge lake.”

 Also true.   

“And you can dip a cup over the side o’ the boat ‘n’ drink da water!”

Right again.  Strange.  Lonagan may break a record for being upright tonight.  Maybe.

“Pike ‘n’ walleye so thick you can walk on their backs.  Six of ‘em jumped right in the boat and almost sunk it. Anudder one took a flying leaped and bit my rod in half on da way by. 

Somewhat exaggerated.

Fer bait we use baseball bats with huge treble hooks and throw ‘em all day.  I’m still sore.”  He rubs his shoulder, rather dramatically to my way of thinking. “We caught more’n a thousand fish apiece!”

That string of whoppers snaps his winning streak.  Normally I would not presume to steal a man’s thunder, but a half-truth is the most cowardly of lies and I feel duty-bound to correct errant reporting that may appear in our journal.  Yes sir.  This low-brow has sunk to self-aggrandizement and for no good reason; the fishing up there is so astounding that exaggeration is not required.

Here are the facts:  The lake is stocked by God and God alone, and the waters team with life.  Northern Pike in the 42-49 inch range are not uncommon, and they dutifully log such trophies in the Master Angler records, available to all.

Giant baits are not required. One-ounce spoons are what the pike crave, for reasons that escape me.  They are eager to bite and do so with savage alacrity.

The foul Lonagan’s count is somewhat inflated as well.  I believe 520 was the number of fish between the three of us.  Four days is around 28 hours in the boat and that works out to a fish about every three minutes on average.  I think.

But the man runs on with his drivel. “Flies and mosquitos crawl all over yer face, crawl across yer eyeballs, ‘n’ you can’t eat nothin’ without dem things gettin’ in yer mouth.”

Another outright lie.  We experience few flies and mosquitoes.  Perhaps fishermen foolish enough to walk directly into the dense woods suffer such iniquities, but personally, I do not understand that kind of behavior.  No sir!  There are plenty of trees to target on the fringe.  I never reached for the bug spray the entire trip and I can only assume that Lonagan wants to scare other sportsmen away from what he regards as his private fishing hole.

All this begs the question, What does fishing have to do with Chicago startups?’ My response is the same as in the past.  The lodge opened its doors in recent years using private equity, so it is a startup.  All who come here either hale from Chicago, once did so, or must pass through our fair city, so it qualifies as a Chicago startup.

Let me also point out that every budding Chicago entrepreneur requires vigorous alternate activity to effectively rest and return to battle.  A fishing trip such as this stimulates innovation and is therefore vital to a company’s bottom line.  Excellent fishing provides an elixir to top management—an essential part of doing business, and it is an admirable location for a board meeting.  Therefore I can state unequivocally that we were at this location performing important research—not goofing off.

Now, as we huddle around the Formica table, I raise my expertly crafted mint julep in a toast.  “Gentlemen.  We met at this very place, not two years past, to choose a gift for Jonelis, our fearless leader.  And I wish to point out that without the mentorship of today’s host, we may have invested in some foolish gewgaw.  But we did not.  Instead, we wisely selected an outing at this magnificent wilderness locale.  Let us raise a cheer to a man whose wisdom and kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. I toast Donatas Ludditis!”

We all raise our glasses.  Our host smiles sweetly while Lonagan chugs single malt from his tumbler, then belches.  I clearly hear him remark under his breath: “Windbag.”

Passing over this crass interjection, I address my comments to our host.  “The irresistible draw of the wild stands as the only sufficient excuse for having traveled with a lowlife like Lonagan.  Now behold how the man does sneer, and swell, and soar, and blaspheme the sacred name of Truth.  I should choose my companions more wisely.”

Lonagan’s face turns purple with rage. “You miserable old fossil…ya leftover from da musty past…I dunno how I survived four days in a boat with a useless crank like you.  Shoulda left you at da bottom o’ the lake!” 

I ignore him and turn back to our host in a confidential manner.  “Never argue with an idiot.  Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

“Shuttup ya—ya hack writer!”  Lonagan swings his meaty fist in a long reaching punch.

He crashes forward, belly first, splitting the table in twain and, in a more serious loss, he sweeps our drinks to the floor.

The force of his dive tips my chair back and as I fall, I see Old Man Ludditis swinging the whiskey bottle.  It connects across the lout’s shoulder.  Glass shards fly and whiskey floods the area worse than during business hours. “I no want fight in my bar,” He shouts. “You fight, you go outside.  This is place of peace.” 

As I pick myself up, I reflect on Lonagan’s huge fists.  They can do damage and have done so to many who are sorry to learn of it.  But I have avoided any repercussions because he missed the mark.

Our host dusts himself off, then produces a walnut out of nowhere and calmly cracks it using the crook of his left arm.  The pieces fall to the floor and he then cracks another.  Then another.

Those walnuts are a helpful reminder and I imagine a skull might make such a sound—my skull.  But this kind of rich old-world charm always soothes my ire, and it seems to do the same for the creature Lonagan, who appears unharmed.  Yes sir!  We are in Ludditis’ establishment, drinking his liquor, and cannot justifiably argue with such a sweet old gentleman who once boasted the title of chief enforcer for the Lithuanian mob (retired).  After all, what are a few hot words among friends?

We repair to another table and I for one, resolve to comply with the old man’s wishes—for now.  I sip my drink, and bide my time.  “Go ahead Lonagan,” I say, “tell him all about it.”

The man sneers at me, then goes to work. “We had lotsa heavy weather—kinda rough fer that tiny little pontoon plane.  Pilot passed out from fright ‘n’ I hadda take over the controls.  First time I ever landed on water so it wasn’t real pretty.” 

We never saw any thunderclappers.  The man spouts these lies without so much as a grin.  With mild and mannerly aplomb, I say, “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.”

“You callin’ me a liar?” 

“Well, perhaps it’s the best you can do.  A casual read of Scripture will show that man was made at the end of the week’s work, when God was tired.”

Lonagan’s eyes bulge and he stands for a repeat performance.

“I say no fight here! You boys shake hands.   Mr. Wayne, please let Loop tell it his own way.” 

Our host is right.  Don’t wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.  But for the record, we traveled by luxurious turboprop, tricked out with air conditioning, reclining leather seats, and a pretty stewardess who earnestly plied us with food and drink.  In an hour and a half, it whisked us away from Winnipeg, 500 miles north to a private gravel strip carved out of the forest.  But Lonagan has been babbling all this time.

Now he brandishes a photograph. “…and dis huge bear chased us back to our boat.  We barely escaped alive.”  More nonsense.  I’m shocked that the man didn’t claim to have fought it with his bare hands.  Perhaps that didn’t occur to him.  We saw the bear from the boat and went elsewhere for shore lunch.

“…beans fer breakfast.  Beans fer supper.”  I believe this is about as barbarous an exhibition as I have witnessed yet.  He exaggerates the fishing and then disparages the food.  He bolsters his ego on the backs of invented clap-trap deprivations.  It may be thought that I am prejudiced against the man.  Perhaps I am.  I would be ashamed of myself if it were not so.

Permit me to straighten out the matter. The guests congregate for breakfast and dinner in a large and beautifully crafted log lodge, and start the day with eggs, bacon, Red River Cereal, juice and hot coffee, and for dinner, steak, pork chops, barbeque ribs—all you can eat and all the trimmings, served graciously with table cloths and silverware—tools that Lonagan does not know how to use properly.

But shore lunch is the grandest treat of all.  Our guide chops wood, builds a fire, then cleans and cooks the walleye we just caught.  Ah shore lunch!  Beer batter walleye, honey garlic walleye, sweet and sour walleye.

And yes, I long to return, even if doing so means that I must put up with Lonagan.  Because this ain’t Chicago.  No sir!  This is North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba.

I make no apology for detailing the above information.  It will be news to some of my readers, at any rate.

Go to North Star website

Read BEST GIFT

Go to first installment – ROUGHING IT

Credits

Photos by John Jonelis

Some juicy quotes from Mark Twain.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2019 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Canada, Characters, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Donatas Ludditis, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Fishing, fly fishing, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, new companies, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital

TOO MUCH FUN

by John Jonelis

How does a Type A find rest from the daily barrage of demands and decisions? Alternate activity, of course! Here’s my best pick for a quick weekend retreat. This is too much fun to keep to myself.

Every year like clockwork, the big King Salmon Run takes place in rivers feeding the Great Lakes. The best of these is Michigan’s Pere Marquette. Now admit it—hooking and battling powerful fish is completely different from the daily grind. This will be a vigorous weekend of personal rejuvenation. And you can put it on next year’s calendar right now and schedule time off. It always happens the last weekend of September!

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The Pere Marquette

This is not a wide river, but it haunts all those that set foot in it. There is nothing trivial about this place. Kings come here to spawn and die. Their offspring will mature in Lake Michigan and years later, return to this very spot. God stocks these waters; nobody else does that on the Pere Marquette, and the great Salmon swim in abundance.

Here a sportsman’s worth is measured in reverence for God’s creation. What do I hold sacred in this place of death and rebirth? Shall I trample through its wild waters, and in my vulgar pride debase its sanctity and my very soul? Or do I, like a pagan idolater, worship the creation—not the Creator? Let it not be so! May I worship You, dear God, who made this magnificent river and exult in Your glory! It is majestic in this place!

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My Secret Spot

This river runs through the Huron-Mansitee National Forest—an area of immeasurable natural beauty. It’s designated a Blue Ribbon Sanctuary. The section I fish lies between Gleason’s Landing and Highway M-37 near Baldwin Michigan.

This is a no-kill zone. Fly rods only. Single hooks no larger than #4. No live bait. No snagging. Small nets. All fish caught here are tenderly released to spawn. The fishing is extraordinarily good. Do you wonder why?

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Bueter’s Salmon Camp

Every year, on the last weekend of September, John and Rhonda Bueter run this venerated event with a tradition going back over a quarter century. Here I pitch my tent or I might rent a cabin at the adjacent Cloud9 Resort. I’m not looking for luxury. Roughing it is part of the experience.

The profane gather here and I am one of them. We are men and women from all walks of life—entrepreneurs and tradesmen, city dwellers and outdoorsmen. Every year we gather to immerse ourselves in this sacred place that is the Pere Marquette.

That and tie flies and teach each other the best ways to catch these magnificent fish.

That and consume great quantities of wonderful food.

That and spend our nights wading the river among teaming schools of monster Salmon—trying our skill with long rods.

That and sit around the roaring campfire sipping good bourbon and telling precious and highly appreciated lies.

That and sleep till noon and do it all over again. I call that the perfect weekend retreat!

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A Night on the River

I arrive early to get more time on the water and on this first night, I wade the river’s currents alone. Here in the dark forest night, I peer about in the eerie glow of my headlamp at pods of rising dorsal fins. In this river, my quarry averages 20 pounds but some run twice that size.

Mine is a 10-weight fly rod and my tippet is 20# fluorocarbon—not the flimsy stuff from typical fly fishermen’s lore. I carry a small box of crudely made flies that I hope will trigger a strike from an enormous King.

All around me, big Salmon leap clear of the water. They make spectacular splashing displays as they motor across shallow gravel flats, all but their bellies entirely visible above the waterline. As I watch, one leaps an embankment and beaches itself. Really! I wade over to coax it back in the river.

This night I’m rewarded with numerous strikes but few hookups. That’s normal. Twice I fight a fish for ten minutes or more, only to lose it for no apparent reason. That’s normal too. I choose my next position and remain still a while. A Salmon bumps my legs. Then again. I glance down and watch a huge King swim between my feet.

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Sweet Battle

Fish on! This one feels heavy and powerful. He fights like a tiger and it takes all my strength to keep pressure on him. I fight line-in-hand for several minutes, then he runs downstream, taking out my line. Now my big primitive fly reel sings as he peels off more and more. When he stops his run, I tighten the drag so it barely clicks as I lift the rod. I move toward the fish and methodically pump him toward me.

Now he’s near, but he moves into a deep hole. This is a problem. With all my strength, I’m merely supporting him in the main current. He’s resting. I apply lateral pressure and the fish cooperatively moves to my side of the river. But when I try to coax him toward my net, he moves back to that deep hole. It takes another fifteen minutes to work him out of that place—then I’m treated to a spectacular display of splashing and thrashing before he heads for a downed tree near the opposite shore.

I know I’ll lose him if he gets into that tangle of wood, so I wade downstream across a shallow gravel flat and tug him away from the hazard. He responds with another show of watery gymnastics, then moves back to that same deep hole. It’s his special hiding place, but this time I’m fighting him from the downstream side and I have the advantage. My pressure adds to that of the current. I’m tiring the fish.

Now he moves onto the shallow gravel and thrashes at the surface not twenty feet away. I see him in the beam of my headlamp. He’s huge—maybe 30 pounds!

Then he’s off! What did I do wrong? I never gave slack. My tackle didn’t snap. I check my fly and find the hook bent open. Tomorrow I’ll invest in better ones.

After a few minutes, my adrenaline slows and I thank God that I get to do this. I cannot comprehend how anybody can possibly land a bigger King than that on a fly rod. Yet, larger ones swim here. I tie on another fly and cast cross-stream.

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Reaction from Friends

“You wade in the water hunting 40 pound fish? Alone? At night? With a fly rod?” The questions get more and more shrill. “And you let them go? Are you crazy?”

I understand that to the uninitiated, my passion may appear extreme. SO IS MY REGULAR WORK! ALWAYS WAS. WHY SHOULDN’T MY WEEKEND RETREAT FOLLOW SUIT? THIS IS ALTERNATE ACTIVITY, AND THAT’S BETTER THAN BED REST!

But I don’t say any of that. No, I respond with a wan smile. “I do this every year at this time.” Then after I sigh from the flood of fond memories, I quietly state the obvious. “Who can stay away?”

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The Main Event

On Friday, official festivities begin. Campers arrive throughout the day, mostly late. They come by car, truck, and plane. John Bueter makes sure everybody is equipped with adequate gear, and if something crucial is missing…well, Baldwin boasts two fly shops.

Bueter takes the group out on the water about 10 pm. I can see my breath. Fog rises from the water’s surface. It’s unusually cold and tonight the air temperature drops to 35˚F, but my waders along with a hoodie and rain jacket keep me snug and cozy.

Bueter points out a female King Salmon and explains where the males will position themselves. “Don’t cast where there aren’t fish,” he says. He demonstrates the most effective way to present the fly and then positions fishermen up and down the stream. I asked him why I get so many strikes but so few hookups, so he watches me and soon sets me straight.

A gal fishing upstream is fighting a huge King. I try to net it, and in my enthusiasm, I take a dunk in the icy water. Her Salmon is so big, it sticks way out of my net. What a thrill!

But now I’m soaked—carrying water INSIDE my waders, and it’s really cold. You don’t fool around with hypothermia. As I fish the remainder of the evening, I keep wading the river to maintain body heat. Four hours later, we’re back at camp and I indulge in a long hot shower. Bueter throws extra logs on the campfire while everybody tells stories and passes the bourbon. Tonight they nickname me “Bobber.”

At noon the next day, I climb out of my tent in amazingly good health and spirits and meet a new neighbor. Jen is a diminutive and vivacious gal of twenty-something. She and her husband just took up fly-fishing and this is their first try at Big Salmon.

Today I make a number of friends. I learn a new fly-cast, how to tie new fly patterns and the theory behind them, and I tuck away plenty of good food.

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Saturday Night

At 10:00 pm, Bueter again leads the group out on the river. It’s another cool night and fog from the river reflects my headlamp and obscures my vision. We explore a mile upstream and find several pods of large aggressive Kings.

I hook and fight two big ones. One snaps my 20 lb. leader. The other I land and release.

I hear Jen call out somewhere downriver: “I love fishing!” Everybody catches fish this night—remarkably fat and strong fish—all King Salmon fresh from the big lake.

It feels like time to turn in when Bueter’s shouts my name. I wade upstream to find Jen bending over a huge Salmon, nursing it back to swimming strength. Fishermen surround her, flashing photos.

Then together, Bueter and Jen lift the fish and we all gasp in awe. Never have I seen a Salmon that size. It weighs out at 40 pounds on the scale! Jen is beaming, and blurts out, “This is Christmas…and Birthday…and…that’s amazing—so amazing.”

How can anybody that diminutive and petite find the skill and strength to land a fish that size on a fly rod? This is the catch of the weekend. Because a first-time angler caught it, it makes the trip particularly special—a winner for everybody.

One happy fisherman shoots a video, which is posted below.

[WATCH VIDEO OF JEN’S CATCH]

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Farewell

Sunday, after a big breakfast, we honor two fishermen taken from us this year, and Bueter hangs their waders in memorial.

Oh God, they meant so much to these dear children of Yours. With deep sorrow and loss we spread their ashes across this unspoiled river given by You, dear Lord—this river they loved. Please take them into your arms for eternity and bless all their loved ones.

Read: CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

Also see: ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH, THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

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Contact

Call John or Rhonda Bueter and see if you can wrangle an invitation to Bueter’s Salmon Camp next year.

Phone – 231-745-3070,

Email – Cloud9Baldwin@sbcglobal.net

Website – www.Cloud9Baldwin.com

Snail Mail – Cloud9 Resort, 3360 South M-37, Baldwin MI 49304

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Photo credits

Daylight river and forest images as well as candid shots at camp by John Jonelis.

Night fishing photos by the entire crew.

Video by Dr. Michael Wang, edited JAJ

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Download – INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUETER’S THREE GO-TO SALMON FLIES ( PDF)

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel investor, Chicago Startup, Entrepreneur, Fishing, fly fishing, Information, Innovation and Culture, Man's Favorite Sport, salmon fishing, the great outdoors, vc