Tag Archives: walleye

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

CLOSER TO HEAVEN

Canada 2014-8843ATas told by Mark T Wayne

Danger and deprivation make up the joys of any wilderness expedition. Have you ever heard an adventurer speak of anything else? I have not, sir! Our bold band is bound for a rare excursion! Today, we hope to try our mettle against the Canadian Wild!

I wake early in a Winnipeg hotel eagerly anticipating the last leg of the trip to our remote outpost. To my disgust, this day again serves up low clouds, fog, and thunderclappers chasing in from the northwest. Time is running thin. If we cannot reach our destination today, we must return home, tails between our legs, helpless victims to the evil of modern air transport. So far, our party has lost two souls and a full day of fishing! We will not tolerate any more delays!

Bad news! Winnipeg International Airport is closed due to the perils of nature! I expect we will remain in this teaming metropolis until the weather lifts and we return to Chicago, discouraged, demoralized, and none the wiser.

Jonelis gets on the horn. I hear the name Loren Bukkett uttered and then John cuts the connection and announces he has arranged a flight! My esteem for the man moves up an inch—a mistake as events will reveal.

Mark T Wayne

A shiny new van arrives to haul eight hearty survivors to our bush plane. Bill Blair immediately crawls to the roof of the vehicle—a surface large enough to accommodate his enormous torso—and lies down for an opportune nap. We run a couple straps across his midsection, just as a precaution and the rain holds off, allowing Blaire a peaceful sleep all the way to the floatplane. His rhythmic rumble elicits rude hilarity from one-and-all. To appreciate the fidelity of his snore, one must grasp the scale of the man. Call him the Paul Bunyan of Chicago.

One wonders how a pontoon plane will break water with such a giant aboard.

That question becomes a matter of serious financial speculation among our rowdy crew. But Jonelis smiles knowingly and refuses to indulge in the wager. I admire integrity in an expedition leader. A gentleman never bets on a sure thing. And his refusal portends foreknowledge! Vision! On the other hand, he booked this trip and actually may know precisely what to expect.

I will outline the plan as I understand it: A bush plane will insert us deep in the Canadian Wilds. Our destination is 500 miles north of Winnipeg—far north of Musky habitat—a land where the ferocious Northern Pike gets its name and grows to prodigious proportions. No towns. No roads. Nothing but Jack Pine, Birch and Big Lakes for hundreds of miles! That is right sir! Our magazine staff is headed for a fishing excursion in the lake country of Northern Manitoba and maybe—just maybe we will survive the journey.

Pontoon Plane - Flintaero

 

Friends experienced in this sort of travel give me to know that it will require as many as three Cessna floatplanes and two fuel stops to haul the lot of us to such a remote locale. We will slowly wallow through the sky, each plane well over legal weight with barrels reeking of gasoline and cases of beer serving as passenger seats. Such a trip requires the entire day. We arrive near dark, our guts puked out, refusing food and barely able to walk.

I ruminate on the veracity of this horror story and whether our plane will make three trips, when our van abruptly stops at a private strip beside a neat King Air—the most lavish of executive turboprops—tricked out in soft leather seats. When Jonelis borrows an airplane, he does the job right!

This is his friend’s craft, but John betrays that it is essentially identical to one the lodge charters. Apparently, such luxurious transportation is the norm at outposts so far north.

Canada 2014-8863

Someone forgot to fit this plane with pontoons. After we untie Blaire from the roof of the van and jar him awake, I inquire.

Turns out, the typical floatplane route is impractical for such vast distances. Our outpost actually carved out a landing strip in the rugged forest, quarried their own gravel, and used the trees to build cabins. That is raw determination, sir! Perhaps in the lower States we have forgotten but the frontier spirit still lives in the North Woods!

This plane comfortably accommodates all eight of us—and by removing two seats, even Bill Blaire settles in without difficulty. He uses a convenient luggage tie-down in lieu of a seatbelt. This is real flying as originally intended. SPEED—wonderful SPEED is the order of the day, just as it was in the glory days of aviation. No execrable lines. No officious and probing security! No ground delay or gnashing of teeth! This ain’t Chicago, Mr. Mayor!

Rather than a full day, this trip will take under an hour and a half! We will be on the water and fishing by 10:00 this very morning! We are getting closer to heaven!

Bush Pilot

I have been told that I will meet a crazed bush pilot—one such as Brian Dennehy—Rosie from the motion picture NEVER CRY WOLF.

A Bush pilot’s job may seem dangerous to American sensibilities, but flight in the wilderness requires a combination of skill, intrepid resourcefulness, and dauntless courage lacking in our unionized flight crews and their innumerable regulations.

No pilot appears.

Jonelis hands a magnum of Grant’s whiskey to the vile Loop Lonagan, and while our group passes the bottle and indulges in coarse jokes and raucous laughter, my suspicions start acting up: How is it that our plane will depart when those at a major international airport do not?

Canada 2014-8091A

Once Jonelis sees us securely strapped in our seats, he personally slips into the cockpit and dons a set of headphones. I take that to mean only one thing!

No bush pilot is crazy enough to make the journey in this weather!

My instinct for survival goes into full panic mode. With wisdom born of a long life, I fumble with my seatbelt. I wish to disembark this flying coffin—IMMEDIATELY!

My hands shake and over my loud objections—before I can set myself free—the props are spinning!

Canada 2014-8852A

With no other airplane in sight, we immediately take off into the gloom!

I am now closer to Paradise than my original intention! Reversed is my strong aversion to all those meticulous safety procedures at O’Hare Field! I now favor the other side of the argument!

Dark cloud cover swallows us. Violent turbulence throws me about in the seat and I tighten my belt so as not to violently strike my head on the roof of the cabin.

Jonelis’ mad voice oozes from overhead speakers as if this were any other day. He speaks in that slow confident drawl common to all pilots. “This is your captain speaking. Due to favorable tailwinds, we will reach our destination at zero nine hundred. Please keep your seatbelts fastened in case of turbulence. In the event of a low ceiling at or destination, we will divert to Thompson.”

Canada 2014-8112A

Presently we dive then level off. Then without warning, we break free of the clouds. Our “pilot” has discovered smoother air, and indeed, the rugged ride abates—somewhat. I glimpse views of wilderness scenery.

Then that insanely calm voice again: “You may move about the cabin. Refreshments are located in the box at seat 2B. Please keep your belts fastened while seated.”

I crouch low and squeeze down the aisle to the front, where I help myself to delightfully hot coffee, a pleasant breakfast of Egg McMuffins, and five tiny bottles of Jack Daniels Sour Mash. I squirrel these treasures in my pockets and hold the rest tight to my chest as I return crabwise to my seat.

Canada 2014-8108A

While the rest of the passengers continue their wild celebration, oblivious to the danger, I speculate on the lunatic at the controls. Does he know how to land this thing?

In the space of an agonizing hour, Jonelis is circling.

Outside the little window, I spot an airstrip. Is it the right one?

As the madman shoots the approach, the aircraft again bucks and yaws like a bull at a rodeo and I spill sour mash across my fine white suit. A roaring wells up in my ears, and my head aches.

I utter my final prayers.

Canada 2014-8107

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Go to next installment – FISH STORY

Back to beginning – ROUGHING IT

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Photography by John Jonelis. except for Mark T Wayne, Patrick Dennehy from Tail Slate, and Pontoon Plane from FlintAero
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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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Filed under alcholics, big money, Bill Blaire., Canada, Characters, chicago, city, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, loop lonagan, Mark T Wayne, new companies, The City