The Old Man and the Lake

By Mike Kutka

Hallelujah, Summer is finally here! I just returned from the cabin up North. I normally go up to the cabin three times in the summer. The first is always the hardest. It entails hooking up all the plumbing, priming the well, plus a number of other tedious chores.

One big chore I accomplished was canoe maintenance. My wife Linda and I acquired a used canoe that was behind a barn for about ten years. I used aluminum polish and a buffer to make the canoe shine like new. Why would I bother with the effort? A smoother canoe has less water resistance which results in less paddling.

While some may tell tall fishing stories, I have amazing true stories. As I remember it, this is what happened last week: As I was fishing in the early morning, I hooked a giant Muskie. To my amazement, it began pulling my canoe all over the lake. I’m sure my canoe polishing efforts made a big difference in helping the canoe glide through the water. At times, the Muskie was pulling so fast I was able to tow a couple of skiers behind my canoe.

Hodag Police Sketch

It did eventually tire and I was able to land it. This Muskie was so big it didn’t fit into the canoe and I had to tie it to the side. Unfortunately, before I could get back to the cabin and immortalize this record Muskie, a Hodag, that legendary creature of Northern Wisconsin, attacked and ate my giant fish as I paddled home.

While I do admire those who practice “catch and release,” I practice “catch and eat.” For those fish that I do manage to get home, I coat them in a seasoned breading and fry them up. Shake them up in a bag and you’re done. Just make enough for the Hodag!

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    OK Mike, I have a fish story for you with the twist that it is actually true. When I was in my teens my Dad and some of his work buddies would make a couple of trips to Quebec every summer, fishing from a lodge on Grand lac victoria in parc la vérendrye, a great fishing spot for Walleyes and Northerns. One of my favorite lures was an original Daredevel red and white spoon. I was casting one morning and a thirty pound Northern hit my lure like a middle linebacker. I fought him for about twenty minutes until I could get him in range of my net. When I pulled him into the boat the lure fell apart! His strike had been so strong it had stretched out the split ring attaching the treble hook to the spoon so that it looked like an elongated letter C. How it stayed together throughout the battle I will never know but I have the lure and the split ring mounted in a box with a picture of the Northern, and it was actually 29 lb 12 oz, but I’ll call it thirty.

    Hi Mike!

    So great to see you still creating new spice combinations. I promote your Vulcan Salt and The Spice House, often in my monthly food column (The Maine Sportsman) and Maine cooking events. I just finished two big wild game dinners, one for 200 and the Moose Lottery for 300 and The Spice House was heavily promoted. I hope you are getting more customers from Maine and around the U.S. because

    I really enjoyed the cooking demonstration with Patty, way back. What a wonderful visit. I am hoping to get back there soon.

    All the best!

    I don’t understand why people seem to think this story is fictitious. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time. Why just a few days ago I met a guy named Freddy Fogg who was talking about bettering an ancestor’s around the world accomplishment…and he wanted me to come along! That’s a story for another day.

    Hi Kate! It’s very nice to hear from you. It has been quite a while since we cooked up some of your wonderful recipes. I still have your cookbook, “Wild Maine Recipes.” However, I use ordinary ingredients like chicken and beef.

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