Tag Archives: Fishing

DON’T GO BELLY UP

by Loop Lonagan

Sleep never comes easy when you’re building the next great tech giant from scratch.  Every idle moment gets overwhelmed with a flood of notions, fears, and phone calls.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those extra hours you squeeze out every day and all that risk you carry on your back are killers.  Keep pushing and something’s gotta give—brain, body, business—one of them goes belly up for sure.  What’s that I hear?  That won’t happen, you say?  Believe me, whenever you tough it out too long, your personality gets so severe that nobody can stand working with you.  From time to time, a CEO has to refresh, rejuvenate, reboot.  You know it and I know it, so listen up.

PERSONAL NOTE FROM LOOP LONAGAN:  Yeah it’s me, all right.  Don’t sound like it though, does it? The new guy, Shakes, worked it over real good, after I dictated the thing.  Gotta make dat guy my reglar editor!

NOTE FROM WILLIAM SHAKES:  “You speak an infinite deal of nothing, but for my own part, it was Greek to me.” (Translation: No problemo.)

So how do you decompress?  Ditch the cell phone for three days.  Escape that smelly city!  Do something outrageous in God’s Creation!  For me, that’s fly-fishing the great annual salmon run.  Ever catch a 40-pound salmon on a fly rod?  It’ll knock the stuffing out of your stress level real fast.  It’s a thrill you won’t forget—ever.

Jim Kren and Joe Perogi gape at the river

This is a hundred percent good.  Think of it—strategy sessions, mapping out your attack—the adventure of wading a wild stream in the dark in hunt of your prey—the tactical skill of delicately casting a fly made by your own hands—the adrenalin rush of a monster king salmon striking your line—the physical strain of fighting a powerful fish for half an hour in the heavy current, line in hand—the catharsis and lasting satisfaction after a long battle. Whoa!  As my football hero, Steve McMichael says, “That’s the juice, baby!”

The legendary Pere Marquette River

Maybe you’ve heard about great fishing like that in Alaska and always wanted to go—but you can’t spare the time right now.  Hey—who can?  Well, lemme ask you:  Can you invest a weekend?  I’ve found a place with rugged beauty and lots and lots of huge king salmon that’s an easy drive from Chicago.  Leave on Friday, back on Sunday.  That’s right—your first excuse doesn’t hold any water.

But maybe you don’t know how to fish with a fly rod.  Hey, you’re a talented entrepreneur, right?  Given a little gumption, you can do anything.  Well relax—at this place, somebody’ll teach you, and believe me, you’ll learn.  So this second excuse won’t pass muster either.

Kren can’t tie a knot

But maybe you don’t own the right gear.  Well, there are two fly shops in town, so that excuse falls flat too.  But, but…  At some point, you gotta stop making silly excuses.  Either find a way to let off some steam or drag your fledgling venture into a ditch out of sheer personal exhaustion.  That’s not what you want, so here’s the place to go:

Outrageously intense

Every September, thousands of salmon swim upstream to spawn in the rivers feeding the Great Lakes.  They show up, nice and prompt, as if they scheduled an appointment—like they carefully set a loud alarm on their smart phone calendars so they wouldn’t stand you up.  The greatest of these waterways is Michigan’s wild, beautiful, and legendary Pere Marquette River in the Manistee Forest.  Fly fishing only. Catch and release.  So guess why there’s so many fish.

Get your butt out to Bueter’s Salmon Camp near Baldwin Michigan—an easy drive from Chicago.  It’s a famous annual event that draws like-minded anglers, all itching to learn new skills and teach the ones they know, and it’s really informal.  Pitch your tent.  Sit around the campfire.  Eat barbeque.  Drink bourbon.  Tell lies.  Soak in the camaraderie of other eager and intense fishermen.  The motto of camp is, “This is too much fun to keep to ourselves.”  Everybody has a good time.

Happy CEOs

I drove up with our magazine staff and I’m fishing with Jim Kren and Joe Perogi (His real name’s J. P. Pierogiczikowski but nobody can pronounce it.)  For two nights, we make our assault on the river, led by renowned fly fisherman, John Bueter.  He deploys his troops along the stream, each casting to pods of active salmon. This year, the kings average 20 pounds and we hear reports of monsters over forty caught offshore. I’m expecting great things and great things happen.

Fish keep their appointment

This is my first night and I’m casting to an active group of fish holding in an area rimmed by fallen trees.  A big one takes my fly and the fight is on.  This one’s huge and strong and tests the limits of my tackle.  I gotta follow where he goes until he finally tires out, or else he’ll peel all the line off my reel.  It happens.

Pump that rod

Perogi sees all the splashing and commotion and wades over to help.  He tries to net my salmon, but it does a 180, swims between my legs, and snaps my fly rod—like one of those close encounters you hear about sometimes.  Hey, no problem—a fly rod’s just a tool—I got another.  But this bad boy is still hooked, so I fight him hand-over-hand till one of us gives way.  It’s either him or me.

Now he’s in the net and we’re dumbstruck by the size of him.  I can’t even circle his tail with both my hands—this one’s huge—way bigger than I’ve ever seen.  I haul him toward shore to clean off any extra hooks when, wham, he breaks through the net.  So there’s no picture of this trophy, but at least I got a witness who says, “Yeah, it really happened,” and “No, you’re not crazy.”  There’s plenty of time left to fish for more.  And I do.

A close encounter

After a couple nights of this, I’m tired, happy, and satisfied.  It’s back to business with a new level of energy and clearheaded judgement.  Join me at Camp this year!

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When & Where

Salmon Camp runs September 27-29.  Show up Friday afternoon, go home Sunday afternoon.  Come a day early if you want—there’s always room for another happy camper.  Call or email your Master of Salmon Mayhem, John Bueter, so he makes enough barbeque.

Mobile 248-345-1402
Land line 231-745-3070

j.bueter@sbcglobal.net

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Get your butt down to this address. 

3360 South M37
Baldwin, MI 49304

(Behind Cloud 9 Resort)
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Cost is $135.  That’s right—tent site, showers, toilets, a barbeque dinner, a lumberjack breakfast.  All for a hundred thirty five bucks!  Save your money for fishing gear.

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Equipment

Don’t own the gear yet?  No time to shop?  Spend a couple hours at Baldwin Bait & Tackle (BBT) or Orvis after you get to camp.  They’re right in Baldwin.  Show them this list and put yourself in their hands:

  • Michigan all-species 3-day fishing license (you can print it online)
  • Big Dog Fly Rod (8-9-10 wt) a spare is not unwise
  • Quality Fly Reel with super-smooth drag
  • Sink-Tip Fly line (6-12 feet of anything from T6 to T11)
  • 12 to 20 pound tippet
  • Lots and lots of flies (Max hook size 4, single point.)
  • Waders
  • Nippers, Pliers (Hemostats are worthless here)
  • Flashlight and Headlight – Important!
  • Rain Gear
  • Tent, Sleeping bag
  • Don’t Forget yer Bubba

More on this topic

 ALIEN ABDUCTS FISH, THROWS FISHERMAN BACK

 CAN’T KEEP A SECRET

TOO MUCH FUN

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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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

WILDERNESS

by John Jonelis

.In Chicago, we enjoy something few high-tech centers can boast—easy access to a primal wilderness—a vast paradise, ancient and unspoiled—unique in the world and very special.

Whenever I’m in this place, I love the world just as I find it.

A short commuter flight from O’Hare Field whisks me to Winnipeg International Airport. Then a short local flight delivers me to an isolated airstrip carved out of an untouched forest—hundreds of miles from roads and crowds. And I experience absolutely no jet lag. My destination is located within my own time zone! This amazing opportunity is accessible due to technology, and I intend to enjoy it as often as I can!

Canadian Shield shown in red

My favorite location is Manitoba at the 55th parallel—as far north as Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and the Bering Sea—as far north as Omsk. North of that grow stunted trees in permafrost, but here tall Pine and Aspen surround the lakes. Uncounted and untouched waters flow through this region—a massive system of rivers and lakes, draining into Hudson Bay. Here it is not uncommon for the ice to measure four feet thick as late as May. I come in June.

Boreal Forest—the crown of the Northern Hemisphere

Mark T Wayne kindly explained to me the geology of this place that I love so intensely. This is the unique and magnificent intersection of the Canadian Shield, and the Boreal Forest. The Shield is a vast area, surrounding Hudson Bay, where, during the last ice age, severe glaciation removed everything down to bedrock. The Boreal (also known as the Snow Forest) is a predominantly conifer range that rings the northern hemisphere like a crown. (In Russia, it runs through Siberia.) Canada’s intersection of Boreal and Shield makes up the largest unspoiled wild area in the world.

Overstressed Chicago entrepreneurs need a place to burn off the tension of a high-risk high-reward lifestyle. Some find solace at the golf course. Others in spectator sports, television, or booze. I prefer the stunning spectacle of God’s creation in the raw. And I bring my fishing rod!

The great Northern Pike reigns in these waters and grows to enormous proportions! Nobody stocks these lakes, but the waters teem with these ferocious predators. Conditions are just as they’ve been for thousands and thousands of years, and unlike other regions of the globe, Manitoba means to keep it that way. No live bait. Barbless hooks. All fish returned to the water unharmed. That transforms an idle pursuit into a challenging alternate activity for budding business tycoons.

Vladimir Up Yours Putin finds time to enjoy the Boreal in his native Russia—that is, when he’s not busy overrunning free countries or thumbing his nose at our great nation. If he can get away for such activities, I think Chicago entrepreneurs can do the same.

I’ve experienced many good fishing lakes in Canada’s provinces. This is my favorite. Knee Lake is a 50-mile-long body of icy water punctuated by rocky reefs and 150 islands. Only one small lodge operates here. They call it North Star Outpost and to me, it’s as close to heaven-on-earth as you can get.

Loop Lonagan, Mark T Wayne, and Donatis Ludditis from my magazine surprised me with tickets for this excursion. And I am immensely grateful.

Here, a man indulges in the elemental fight against nature and—for a precious time— entirely escapes the Chicago rat race!

Here, a man lives off the fat of the land, and—in a delightful exception to the catch-and-release rules—harvests fat walleye for that exquisite tradition known as Shore Lunch.

Nothing tastes better than fresh walleye cooked over pine logs. This is beer batter—my favorite.

In this ecosystem, nothing goes to waste. After that wonderful meal, I’m back hunting big pike.

Without warning, a strong strike sends a shiver up my elbow and shoulder. I feel vital life at the end of my line. The weight of it leaves no doubt that this is a trophy fish. Then a sharp pull almost yanks the rod and reel from my hands and the water boils!

I catch my breath and strain against the fish. This monster goes through all the escape behaviors learned over a life of perhaps 50 years. It jumps clear of the water. It runs deep. It rolls in my line. It thrashes, tugs, and splashes the surface of the water. Every time I catch sight of this fish, it strikes me with awe. This one is strong and thick. As they say up here, it has shoulders!

It charges the boat and I reel fast to keep my line taught. A moment of slack and the prize will be gone. It swims underneath me and I plunge my rod deep into the icy water and then work it around the bow. When I finally bring this fish to the side of the boat, it turns away and peels line off my big round reel at will.

This battle repeats three times. A fish this big does not succumb easily and expends all its energy before surrender to the net.

Quickly, I lift him into the boat. The barbless hook falls from its mouth. A hurried measurement—46 inches! One snap of the shutter and my prize is back in the water.

A fish this size is delicate and often will not survive the fight without help. Holding it by the tail, I move its body back and forth, flowing water through the gills. A minute or two, and the great northern pike strokes its tail free of my hand and swims away with power. I hope to catch that one again next year.

But for now, I must catch my own breath. This primal battle in God’s wilderness leaves me stunned and in awe and immensely satisfied.

Go to next installment – NORTH STAR

Go back to – ROUGHING IT

 

This is North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba, a protected pike sanctuary.

Website – northstarresort.ca

Phone – Talk to Hope Levenhagen at 800-563-7151

Email – hopelevenhagen@northhavenresort.ca

 

Charts and Maps—Wikipedia.

Photography—John Jonelis.

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, Canada, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, fly fishing, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture, venture capital

STARTUP OF THE YEAR

by John Jonelis

Here’s a Chicago Area startup that brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to tired business people, gets them out in the open air, away from the pressures of the big city, and teaches them to smile again. Does that sound like a worthy goal?

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I think so.

Now imagine you’re in waters bounded by trees of all kinds—not a house or building in site! No water skiers. No high-powered outboard motors. Not a boat of any kind!

Well, can you imagine that?

Ah!

You see the flight of the blue heron, the bald eagle, ducks and geese. A couple of otters. Nobody in your boat sets eyes on another human being all day long! Sound good so far?

Ah!

This is nature in the raw. You’re drifting a wild river—in strong current—strewn with huge boulders. As you make your way downstream, you shoot several rugged rapids. But due to the skill of your guide and his specialized boat, the ice in your martini glass is never disturbed. You feel at ease the entire day.

Ah!

You bring along a hat, polarized sun glasses, a rain jacket, but no fishing gear. Your guide hands you an expensive Orvis 8-weight fly rod. It feels surprisingly natural and light in your hand.

Maybe you never cast a fly rod before, but your guide gives you a few pointers and moves the boat a little closer to the target—just to make it simpler for you. Now you’re casting hand-made six-inch streamers at the banks with ease. Soon you find out why the fly rod is favored on the river. It’s the most efficient tool for the job.

And fly-casting is therapeutic and highly relaxing.

Ah!

Soon you thrill to strikes from trophy smallmouth bass that fight like a tigers. The fish here grow fat as footballs. Landing one in the heavy current on a fly rod takes all your skill and strength. I can think of nothing else that gives this kind of peace and satisfaction.

Ah!

Ah!

Wahoo!

Hooray!

Yes, we all dream of exotic trips to faraway places. But this one requires no passport. No airplane tickets. All this is happening on the Wisconsin River—a three-hour car ride from Chicago!

Wanna go?

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Hoo-boy!

You gain entry to this paradise in an unusual little boat—a specially designed dory—incredibly maneuverable—easily able to withstand these rocky rapids.

Motorized aluminum rowboats and jon boats risk ripping open their bottoms and ruining their props and lower units on submerged rocks. Electric trolling motors are useless. These rapids swamp canoes and challenge kayaks. A $75,000 bass boat wouldn’t last an hour.

But the diminutive dory makes for safe passage and provides a comfortable and stable platform for you to cast your line with accuracy. It makes the raging water seem calm.

Ah!

Your guide controls the boat with incredible precision using oars.

Yes—oars!

The specialized equipment and the guide’s skill allow you to gain entry to this paradise. Almost nobody else can get in here. That makes for very little fishing pressure. That means abundant game, eager to attack your offering. And the bass here are much larger than those found on famous rivers out east.

Now, THIS is what I’m talkin’ about!

Abe Downs—a chemist by profession—runs Great Northern Fly Fishing out of Stevens Point Wisconsin—just three hours north of Chicago. He’s an Orvis-certified guide and brings his scientific training and businesslike professionalism to bear alongside his extensive fishing knowledge. He’ll even get you a discount at a local restaurant.

Abe switches to musky with the fly rod in the Spring and Fall and scores a good percentage of the time. I love fishing musky but they’re called “The Fish of a Thousand Casts” with good reason. In contrast, these huge smalleys seem always voracious for a meal—even after a cold front! They fight harder than pike. And they bite in the summertime!

Okay, I hear the objections. This ain’t no startup because—because what? Because Abe doesn’t plan to grow like Uber?

Bosh! This little company may not present an investment opportunity for your venture capital fund, but it’s a startup all the same—and quite a successful one. He’s booked most every day of the season. Like a tech startup, he makes use of specialized technology and proprietary knowledge to operate the business. Few can compete in his niche.

And he brings pleasure, relaxation, and satisfaction to himself and his clients. Does that sound like a worthy goal?

I think so.

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On one trip this summer, my fishing partner was my son. On another, it was my friend, Rod Erickson. Neither fished with fly rod and streamer ever before. Both learned quickly and—truth be told—out-fished me. I think Abe is a good teacher.

Photography by John Jonelis, Robert Jonelis, and Rod Erickson

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Great Northern Fly Fishing

Abe@GreatNorthernFlyFishing.com

715-572-3225

1020 Tree Lane, Plover, WI 54467

 

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 chicago, Chicago Startup, Chicago Ventures, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Fishing, fly fishing, Innovation, new companies, pike fishing, smallmouth bass, Startup, startup company

BEST GIFT

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by Mark T Wayne

“Whaddaya think is da best Christmas gift o’ dem all?” Loop Lonagan puts this puerile question in a peculiar verbal form he calls the American language just as Donatis Ludditis and I innocently raise a Christmas toast at that notable Chicago landmark, Ludditis Shots & Beer. The place offers several distinct advantages.  Our host never presents a bill for our proclivities and the back room houses our magazine offices.

“I got best gift! Is this!” Ludditis states his case in his Lithuanian accent, and passes fancy boxes across the table. “This one for you, Mr. Wayne. Is Christmas!”

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Ludditis’ combo glass

I tear off the bow and wrapping paper, and then study the packaging a moment. Pictured on the exterior is a shocking freak of glassware—a combination beer and shot glass.

Ludditis quivers with excitement. “See, you must only wash half so many glasses! You like? Is good?”

“No.” This curt observation issues from the foul Lonagan creature.

I stretch a leg and carefully squash his foot under cover of the round Formica table and he instantly emits a mist of good whiskey from his tightly closed lips. Never permit a boot heel to go idle when the opportunity arises. Meanwhile, I ingratiate myself with our host. “Such a fine gift, sir! I accept it with profound appreciation and gratitude! This most excellent glassware shall fill a special place in my extensive liquor cabinet!”

Ludditis gives a little bow along with a flourish of the hand.

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Chicago landmark

“But,” I continue, “I believe the man that sits betwixt us hints at something on a far grander scale. Perhaps he seeks the ultimate gift that one can receive.”

The table goes silent, so I set about to stir the creative juices.  I clear my throat. “Before any serious hypotheses are put forth, may I suggest that we set some rules for the game?”

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Donatis Ludditis

Ludditis interrupts, spreading his arms wide. “American million-dollar bill! Five feet long! Good gift!”

Lonagan is massaging his injured foot. “I s’pose da greatest gift of all—what ever’body really wants—is da eternal salvation of yer immortal soul.” He looks up from his foot with a curious and piercing gaze. “Just a handful o’ faith unwraps dat package, ‘n’ it’s fulla God’s grace ‘n’ love. Joy on earth ‘n’ heaven in da hereafter.”

“Who amongst us can buy a thing such as that?” I bark the words. And quite privately, I am shocked! Shocked, I say! I never considered the execrable Lonagan capable of formulating such a deep and sensitive notion. Since when did the man get religion? As a confirmed atheist, this sentiment makes me itch like a boy wearing coarse woolen underwear.

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Mark T Wayne

“It’s somethin’ you ain’t never gonna unnerstand, ya old crank,” he says with evident conviction. It is Lonagan’s turn to pour shots from our dusty bottle of single malt and he proceeds to do so. “Nobody buys off God. Salvation is free! But ya gotta open da gift t’ own it.”

His words raise the hackles at the back of my neck and interfere with my normally placid demeanor. “What possible value, sir, is a gift that is free for the taking by any derelict off the street?” I honestly have no idea what this lout is driving at. I know of rumors that Lonagan took a first in finance at the University of Chicago’s graduate program, but to hear his vulgar turn of phrase, his vernacular of deeze and doze, one would take the man for a complete idiot. There may be something there that explains his secret to success—maybe. I will study the matter.

“I change,” blurts Ludditis. “I agree with Loop. Forever with Creator is better than million-dollar bill. Is Christmas!”

I quickly gather myself and recognize a need to set reasonable limits if we wish to come to a practical conclusion. “Gentlemen, I will delineate the rules of the game:

  • “The gift should serve some specific utility.
  • “It must require fervid imagination, and fevered preparation
  • “A large monetary outlay must be expended—but something of a size that one of us might actually be inclined to shell out.”

I fill the combo glasses and everybody downs another shot.

Without warning, Lonagan slams a meaty fist to the table.  Then he blurts out something totally inappropriate. “We gotta do somethin’ fer Jonelis.”

One never knows what to expect from this fellow.  “I fail to follow your train of thought, sir.  Perhaps you refer to the gift of which we speak.  Certainly I can think of no individual less deserving than Jonelis, unless we care to speculate about you.”

“C’mon, use yer brain.  I’m only here ‘cause o’ him.  Same with you, Don.”  Then he squints at me.  “But I dunno where YOU come from, MISTER Mark T Wayne, with yer mass o’ bushy white hair ‘n’ yer musty old white flannel suit dat never gets smudged. Ya crummy hack writer!  Whadidya do? Fall outa da 19th Century by accident er somethin’?”

I square my shoulders and look down my nose at the man. “I do not hail from your gutter, sirrah. Through my literary efforts, I enjoy the pleasure of knowing both King Arthur and Tom Sawyer, but never have I come across the likes of you.  Should you care to indulge further in personal invective, I may be excused for requesting satisfaction.  Pistols at dawn is the usual procedure.”

Ludditis cracks a walnut in his naked hand and then scatters the pieces on the table. “You want fight—go out in street! Not in my place! Is Christmas!”

Ludditis is an amazing fellow. Not only is he a powerful and possibly a dangerous Lugan, but the man is also pushing one hundred years of age.  He refills the diminutive end of our glasses with the skill of an accomplished bartender and we all consume our shots of single malt.  “I vote Mr. Yonelis.” Ludditis always pronounces it that way. “That make majority. What we give him, huh?

Lonagan runs a finger around the larger rim of his combo glass until it raises a faint musical pitch. “A monetary gift, eh? Well I ain’t givin’ da guy no Lexus with some sappy red bow on top. That ain’t worth nothin’ t’ him.”

car-with-red-bow-ms-office

Lexus sales event

Ludditis: “Maybe we get for him hair transplant. That cost lots and lots of money. I think he look good with hair.”

Lonagan: “Naw, he likes his shiny dome. Brags he don’t even comb it. What Jonelis wants is t’ enjoy God’s creation.”

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God’s creation

Again Lonagan’s spiritual reference grates at my nerves, but his genius amazes me. I must seize his notion, build upon it, and bring this conversation back to the physical realm. I make another pronouncement: “Gentlemen, I have a satisfactory answer.”

They both turn to me like schoolboys.

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Jonelis

“I believe I understand the man’s deepest cravings.  He yearns to experience the wilderness, but not its inconvenience.  In this age, such a thing can be done!

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Wild nature

“I know a place where a man can immerse himself in wild nature—where no roads exist for hundreds of miles—a place dotted with thousands of pristine lakes rimmed with Jack Pine and Aspen forests. Populating the woods are bear, moose, deer, and untold numbers of avian species.

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Ecotourism

“The waters are teaming with an entirely natural and burgeoning population of gigantic Northern Pike, which by afternoon, lounge so thick in the bays that a man can walk across the water on their backs! Shall I continue?”

They both nod with eager and toothy grins.

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Island sactuaries

“In this place, a man indulges in the savagery of nature. Living off the land. Yes sir! Exercising one’s right as an animal at the top of the food chain—except, of course, for the great bear.

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Wildlife

“Such an excursion exerts a powerful pull on one’s primal urges and instincts, which lie hidden beneath that rumpled business suit. A brief experience of such raw pleasure will leave an indelible mark of satisfaction on a man—a feeling akin to bliss, followed by an insatiable longing to return to this wild paradise forthwith and forever. I believe the term ECOTOURISM is currently in vogue.”

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Shore lunch

Lonagan’s chin is cupped in both hands and he’s grinning. Then he breaks from his dream and inspects me with one eye. “Ecotourism—ain’t dat fer tree huggers?”

Ludditis returns from a quick trip to the bar with a fresh bottle. “Why you think this idea work so good?  John no hug tree—what he do?”

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Log cabin

“He lives in a log cabin heated by a wood fire! He drinks water straight from a virgin lake! He battles monster fish with hook and line. He wolfs down fresh meat for sustenance. That is what he does, sir!

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Heavy tackle

“I know a place almost inaccessible to most and untouched by human hands—unchanged since the last ice age. The largest unspoiled land mass in the world—almost entirely devoid of human habitation! A trackless wilderness of immense beauty and majesty!

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Trusty boat

“I speak to you of the Canadian Shield—a landscape of exposed bedrock, created by severe glaciation during the ice age. This is the ancient geological core of the North American continent—a place more than four billion years old!”

canada-geological-map

Canadian Shield (in red)

The sharp intake of breath, the squeak of a chair, then silence. I continue:

“This planet’s Boreal Forest, rings the Northern Hemisphere, and a good third of it lies on the Canadian Shield! Yes sir! Canada’s Boreal landscape contains more lakes and rivers than any landmass in the world! It is estimated that the region contains over two million watersheds—the largest intact forest on earth, with millions of square miles still undisturbed by roads, cities or industrial development! Picture that, gentlemen!”

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Boreal forest

From their glazed expressions, I can only assume they picture it in their minds eye.

“In the northern reaches of Manitoba—at the 55th parallel—we find the perfection of conifer and aspen forests and an uncountable quantity of ancient lakes, some over fifty miles long, each with hundreds of rocky islands. That sir, is the northern fringe of the forest. North of that lies tundra!

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Boreal forest – Manitoba

“And fish, gentlemen—fish in untold abundance! I know a place where one can set out in a rude boat and catch a hundred fighting Northern Pike in a day by hook and line using spoons and streamers—some fashioned by one’s own hands!

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Trophy pike

“And this, gentlemen, is Jonelis’ favorite lake in all the world. Given a choice, he would live here.”

Lonagan rouses himself. “Hey, I love dat place too. Ever’body dats been there does.”

“Certainly, certainly. Not even a churlish cad could fail to express such a sentiment.”

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Trophy pike

“But it’s 50 below up dare now. Farenheit!”

Is the man deliberately obtuse? Any fool knows one must travel those parts during the proper season.

Ludditis appears greatly agitated. “I lose track. You put old man out in cold? Is Christmas!”

“Certainly not at Christmas!  No sir!  At this time of year, a man makes his plans and rushes to secure a booking, hoping one is still available.

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Another trophy pike

“No, I do not intend to be rude, Mr Ludditis. I speak of North Star Outpost on KNEE LAKE, Manitoba.  A luxurious wilderness haven, available during THIS lifetime.  A place where awe and wonder forever change you.  It lies due north of where we now sit—modern transportation whisks you away to this paradise in the space of a few hours.  There are no roads.  Airplane is the only practical access, and it can be reached, at most, three months of the year. 

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Accessible only by air

“What do you say, gentlemen? Shall we provide the means for our mentor, our friend, to taste and enjoy the delights of this earthly paradise?”

Lonagan lets out a deep sigh. “I wonder if he’s gonna ask us to go with.”

“Perhaps. Consider that if one wishes to wager at poker, it is necessary to bring companions.

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Nightly poker

“The same need serves us well if he longs for a competitive round of pool in the evening after a refreshing hot shower.

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Game room

“Gentlemen, I propose a toast!” Ludditis and I clash our combo glasses in a hearty cheer. “To the greatest Christmas gift!”

And Lonagan joins our toast.  “Dat money can buy!”

 

Read: WILDERNESS

Go to: HOW TO TREAT THE OLD MAN

 

Contact information:

North Star Executive Outpost

Knee Lake, Manitoba

Call Hope Levenhagen 1-800-563-7151 hopelevenhagen@northhavenresort.ca

General email info@northstarresort.ca

Address N28W23000 Roundy Drive, Suite 102

Pewaukee, Wisconsin 53072

 

Sources

Charts and Maps—The Manitoba Museum. Wikipedia. MS Office.

Photography by John Jonelis.

Glassware distributed by Samsonico USA

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. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Chicago Ventures

LIES ABOUT PARADISE

Canada 2014-8643ATas told by Mark T Wayne

I recognize a sharp character flaw among outdoorsmen of all sorts—an uncontrollable urge to exaggerate—particularly after an excursion to a wilderness such as northern Manitoba. Permit me to treat you to a few horror stories of the Great North Woods.  I promise to debunk them all.

 Mobs of Tourists

Multitudes of crude drinking-age folk and their dirty urchins shack up in run-down resorts and shabby private cabins. They dot the shores and pollute these once-fine waters. Long, loud lines form at boat ramps.  Rough individuals engage in open hostility.

Mark T Wayne

Huge speedboats, stinking of gasoline and oil, cut across fishermen’s lines. Meanwhile, high-speed suicide boats equipped with 150 horsepower motors shoot up rooster tails of greasy water as they propel themselves gunnel to gunnel at 70 miles per hour in a desperate competition for the rare undisturbed fishing spot.

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That may be true of many waters one might fish.  But my experience is entirely different. Ours is THE ONLY LODGE ON THE LAKE.  I am speaking of a body of pristine water almost FIFTY MILES LONG with close to 150 islands!  Dense forest surrounds us for hundreds of miles.  NO ROADS.  That is correct sir!  Our magazine staff and I have the place all to ourselves and for a span of four days, we OWN this vast stretch of wilderness paradise.

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Yes, I must congratulate Jonelis, no matter what anybody says about the man. He picked a plumb spot!  This is the NORTHSTAR RESORT on KNEE LAKE, MANITOBA—one of the newest of Chicago’s startups.

“Chicago Startup?” you ask. “Aren’t you gentlemen thousands of miles north of that distinguished metropolis?”

Canada 2014-8343pAPermit me to justify my claim:

  • Most all the patrons either hail from Chicago, once enjoyed that honor, or pass through O’Hare Field on their way here.
  • This is Northstar’s first full season.

I submit that they qualify as a Chicago Startup.

We are guests of the Cree Nation and they provide abundant hospitality. Canada 2014-8168AThis is Cree water—a protected Trophy Northern Pike Lake.  Professional management handles the lodge.  The Cree handle our boats, chop our wood, fillet and cook our fish.  Most important of all, they bring us to the best fishing spots.  My only responsibilities are fishing, eating, drinking, gambling, and indulging in the time-honored tradition of gross exaggeration.Canada 2014-8722A. 150jpg

One note—Manitoba Law: Barbless hooks.  Artificial lures.  All pike released unharmed. But consider—if we kept them all, our boats would sink from the weight of our daily catch.  These fish live to bite again and according to local lore, some of the largest pike have names.

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Pike Set Free

Harsh Conditions

I hear ugly reports of outdoor privies with no walls or roof whatsoever—one’s rump exposed to swarms of biting flies and mosquitoes, and interested bystanders.

My experience is entirely different. No pit toilets here.  The plumbing is all indoors—modern, new and clean.  Hot and cold running water.  Showers.  Facilities that rival fine hotels.

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Our Cabin

I have heard a typical base camp described as a set of rotting clapboard shacks or moldering canvas tents Canada 2014-8512Adating back to frontier times, swarming with biting flies, mosquitoes, and other vermin, and periodically overrun by man-eating bears.

Perhaps one can find such conditions if looking for trouble, but my experience is entirely different. I find solidly and exquisitely constructed log cabins gorgeously appointed with appropriate and tastefully rustic furniture.  Everything is meticulously maintained.  Tight-fitting screens grace all windows and the roofs do not leak.  We sleep upon firm new mattresses and choose between wood fire and electric heat.  The lodge generates its own electricity.

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The main lodge boasts a full commercial kitchen, bar, billiards, and poker tables. Yes, they spared no expense constructing this magnificent facility.

I must admit that a bear pays us a kind visit.Canada 2014-8138A The abundant scent of cooking explains the presence of this noble predator.  The kitchen staff wastes no time chasing the animal off with angry shouts and vigorous gesticulations.

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I hear agonized complaints of Black Flies so thick they crawl across your eyeballs and into your mouth. The Mosquito is called the National Bird and you are out of Deet.

Canada 2014-8600AThat is enough, sir! Permit me to address this repeated barrage of braggadocio regarding swarming insects.  Fishermen love to blather about such things in polite conversation.  I will set the record straight forthwith.  Canada has no national bird.  Manitoba’s provincial bird is the Great Grey Owl.  Canada 2014-8602AOur sightings of flying creatures include the Bald Eagle, the Golden Eagle, and the Blue Heron.

It is true that some fishermen who have not done their research arrive at these shores during Black Fly Season. Such is the price of ignorance!  But a well-designed lodge is strategically perched on a high peninsula where cool lake breezes waft away flying vermin.  I do not require insect repellent on this entire trip!

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Our Cabin

According to popular wisdom, there is no protection in an open boat. Exposed to the elements all day, one is cold and miserable.  You endure constant driving rain and sleet.  You are constantly wet from head to foot, your energy and spirits entirely sapped. 

Canada 2014-8380AIt is true that on this trip, we experience the full range of weather. One day reaches 80 degrees Fahrenheit and finds me decked out in short pants, my pale hairy legs exposed for all the wildlife to see.  The next day brings wind and rain but in my Gore-Tex rain gear, it cannot touch me.  The next day is refreshingly cold, but the simple addition of an insulated sweatshirt turns my rain gear into winter garb.  I laugh at the weather, sir!  Laugh, I say!

 

I am full to the eyeballs with stories of leaky boats with motors that sputter, stutter, then die. Others tell of harrowing canoe romps, paddling until—I suppose until one cannot paddle any longer.  Your frail craft pitches in the waves miles from shore as you frantically bail water from the bottom. 

My experience is entirely different. Canada 2014-8805AWe explore this enormous lake in comfortable fishing boats—ample even for Bill Blaire, the Paul Bunyan of Chicago.  These boats are tricked out with carpeted casting decks and plush swivel seats.  Depth finders and live wells.  Ice coolers and communication radios.  Fine big motors and guides to operate them.

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Horrible Grub

I am told that for breakfast, a surly cook serves up execrable mush slopped into dirty leaking bowls.

Canada 2014-8135AUp here, we awake to the heady aroma of bacon and eggs, flapjacks with real maple syrup, Red River cereal, and piping-hot coffee. We congregate at the well-appointed main lodge and roll up our sleeves to punish that food in a proper manner.  Blaire asserts that bacon is a basic food group and I concur.  He didn’t attain such gargantuan stature eating boiled vegetables.

I am led to believe that, likely as not, we will catch nothing fit to eat. At noon, we may be 20 miles or more from the lodge and will go hungry till supper. “Bring sandwiches,” they say. Then they go on to suggest peanut butter and jelly or cold canned beans shoveled down the gullet in a pitching boat. 

Canada 2014-8153AFirst let me state unequivocally that we suffer no difficulty catching our lunch. The only delay in capturing fat delicious Walleye are trophy Northern Pike that grab our twister tails before the jigs can reach the bottom.  Many times, we hook two of these savage water wolves at once!  To be fair, I must admit that the Walleye grab the Pike baits too.

After a full morning exerting oneself in the raw elements, no food on earth tastes better than freshly caught walleye!Canada 2014-8210A   Walleye is a delicacy served in the finest restaurants but these are not anonymous fish—no sir, these are OUR walleye.  This is an important point if you wish to understand the joys of a wilderness excursion.  An intimate connection with the source of food is emotionally satisfying in a profound way.  I admit it is difficult to convey the feeling in words.  One must experience such a thing to appreciate the bliss it engenders in one’s whole being.

Canada 2014-8208APermit me to expound upon our lunch experience because it gives me a great deal of pleasure. Every day, our boats rendezvous at a different rocky island and we conclave among the jack pine and birch to tell lies and drink beer.  Meanwhile, the guides fillet our fish, chop wood, and start a bonfire on which they will cook our meal.  Yes sir—we indulge in that glorious, overwhelmingly delightful tradition known as SHORE LUNCH.  To those of you lucky enough to experience this ritual please indulge me while I explain it to the uninitiated.

.While the food cooks, we explore the island, beer in hand. Naturally, everyone is in jovial spirits.  Kren casts a line from shore.  Ludditis snaps a photo of Jonelis and Bill Blair.  For some reason they wear camouflage.  Strange.  Can it be that those two actually believe fish cannot see them when dressed in such garb?

Canada 2014-8592p Bill Blaire SMALL A

Jonelis and Bill Blair in Camo

The head guide calls us to table. Our first shore lunch yields deep-fried walleye with onions and potatoes, hot beans and corn. To my tastes, this represents the ultimate in wilderness cuisine.  I am subsequently proven wrong.  Canada 2014-8576AThe next day, we are introduced to Walleye with peppers and sharp seasoning.  The day following that, they roll out Honey Garlic Walleye!  I squeeze my eyes closed to concentrate fully on that exquisite flavor!  I will always remember shore lunch as the pinnacle of life as we know it.

On this particular day, Alexander Harbinger is first to spot a floatplane headed directly to our island. The plane lands on the water and taxies to a rock slab.Canada 2014-8201A  Out the door pops the manager, dressed in his Sunday best, balancing a platter high like a professional waiter.  Martinis in long stemmed glasses!  I tell you sir this is my idea of roughing it!

After a full meal, we lay about on huge slabs of rock, looking perhaps like beached whales. Jim Kren finds sleeping quarters more to his liking.  If this is the wilderness, we lack for nothing.

Canada 2014-8211A 300When traveling to remote areas of the world, one is frequently warned about the dangers of drinking the local water. Consequences are colloquially known as Montezuma’s Revenge.

On this lake, I bring a mug along on the boat and dip it in the freezing water whenever the thirst takes me—no ice cubes required. And I suffer no unseemly maladies whatsoever!

Lousy FishingCanada 2014-8261h 2X3A F-500b

I have it on competent authority that fishermen typically sit in boats all day and return perhaps with a small bass and a couple puny pike of no account. 

Canada 2014-8558AUp here, we are well beyond the habitat of the Bass and Musky. The great Northern Pike is king and grows to prodigious proportions not seen further south.  The lake is virgin.  They do not even stock it!  No sir!  Yet, a man can almost walk on water across the backs of these ferocious predators.

And indeed, our hearty crew experiences glorious fishing with a pike strike about every five casts.Canada 2014-8360A The only impediment to a man landing 150 worthy fish is overindulgence in Canadian beer.  There is no other excuse sir!  And I repeat—they do not stock the lake!  These fish are aggressive!  Large Pike attack anything we attempt to bring to boat, including their own kind!

Canada 2014-8403AThis is akin to pulling pan fish out of a favorite fishing hole one after another. But we are throwing heavy lures on stout lines and steel leaders.  We cast with rigid rods at toothy giants that savagely attack the bait with a jolt that sends a shiver down a man’s shoulder.  These fish splash gallons of water, jump and dance on their tails, roll up in your line, dive under the boat, and generally do everything possible to escape.Canada 2014-8356A  With barbless hooks, it requires only a momentary slack in one’s line and the fish is free!  Repeated tug-a-war matches such as these strain a man’s entire body.

No one can call a pike fisherman lazy!

Canada 2014-8836A

No Night Life

Friends who travel to the wild tell of returning after a day of howling rain to dark leaky quarters buzzing with biting flies and mosquitoes. In total exhaustion and utter defeat, the intrepid explorers crawl under inadequate blankets and share body heat with friendly field mice, marmots and perhaps a snake or two.

Canada 2014-8459A

.I have yet to see these vermin you continually reference, sir!  We are back in the shelter of our fine log cabin. Weary but satisfied, I treat myself to a warm shower and then slip into the white terrycloth robe kindly placed on my king-size bed by the excellent maid staff.

.We all indulge in cocktails while Jonelis grills thick steaks on the deck in full view of the lake.

Canada 2014-8500pA

After a satisfying meal, we repair to the lodge for a night of poker and aggressive wagering. You may criticize such vice, but in defense of the entire group, let me point out that cards provide scant diversion after the experiences of such a day unless real money is at stake.  We trade our petty empires back and forth across that table.  Seated around me are men who know how to live!

Canada 2014-8518A

Sweet Home Chicago

Such experiences often come to an end before reaching a climax. The return flight yields none of the drama of our journey to paradise.  Canada 2014-8883

Too soon we find ourselves in the magazine’s corporate offices—the backroom of Ludditis Shots & Beer where you find the best potato pancakes in town.  Jonelis raises his feet to his battered WWII Air Force desk.  I raise a jigger of Sour Mash and read the words emblazoned upon his shirt:  SURGEON GENERAL WARNING:  FISHING IS EXPENSIVE, ADDICTIVE, AND MAY LEAD TO AN UNCONTROLLABLE URGE TO EXAGGERATE.

.Ludditis Shots and Beer 3

Our Corporate Offices

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The Real Thing

Ludditis discovers an online video that shows, in slow motion, a Northern Pike attacking its prey. I place it here for your edification.

Pike StrikesVideo of Pike Strike [click here]

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Go to – HOW TO TREAT THE OLD MAN

Go back to Episode One – ROUGHING IT

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Northstar Resort on Knee Lake can be reached at northstarresort.ca  Northstar Resort makes no endorsement of the statements and views expressed in this article.

Photographs by John Jonelis and Donatas Ludditis

Video of Pike Strike from Underwater-Ireland.com

T-shirt text ©earthSUNmoon.

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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. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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