By Ben Gruber
My little brother met a girl in an unconventional fashion. He was working on an ambulance crew when someone crashed a car into a building. He responded, and the young lady working the desk at the clinic was smitten, mostly with his beard. I do not blame her. He does have the second-best beard in the family.
Now they are getting married, so it was fate that made that person use the building as a drive-in. Which brings us to the point of this story, the bachelor party.
On Friday afternoon my brother and I and a few others pulled into a cabin in the woods near the Mecan River east of Westfield. No electricity, no running water. Gas lamps, campfire, a woodstove, and a few close friends were all we needed for this party. Friday evening we threw some bags, played some catch, and then grilled some tasty grub. A few beers around the campfire topped off the night.
The best man forgot the coffee. I will protect his identity by not mentioning any names. Luckily, we were a mere 10 miles from civilization and I — I mean he — made a 6 a.m. Kwik Trip coffee run. We made up some campfire coffee and some breakfast burritos to take off the unseasonable morning chill.
Once that was complete, we loaded up and headed to the main lodge of our hosts, Mecan River Outfitters. We looked over river route maps, rented some canoes, and decided on our route. We chose a short one, wanting to be able to take our time and do some fishing.
The six of us loaded into a van and wove through woods and farm country until we reached a dead-end dirt road that was our entry point. After taking a few minutes to load up fishing rods and paddles, we were on our way.
My third cast produced a small northern, hitting my No. 4 Mepps bucktail two times before I was able to set the hook. Getting on the board quickly had us hopeful that this was going to be a real barn burner of a fishing trip.
About half way through our trip, we finally landed a second fish, a small bass that again fell victim to the Mepps spinner. That was the only bait to catch a fish all day, and only a few at that. We did not let it put a damper on our day though. The river was surprisingly undeveloped, the kind you expect to see “up north,” away from population centers.
The only noises we heard were some wood ducks taking flight ahead of us and one large critter that went crashing away from the shore as we approached. We did not see it, but it sure sounded like a bear. There was one other sound, but it was our radio as we checked in on the Badger football game.
The Mecan River is known to be a great trout fishing river with naturally reproducing rainbow trout. It is one of few rivers in the state to make that claim. The stretch we chose to paddle was more of a bass and northern stretch though, and that is what we caught.
It was a low-key shindig, and I loved it for that. The Mecan is a great little river, and its neighbor the Fox is as well. They are both kind of tucked away in the south-central part of the state, which is not known to be a paddling destination, but it is worth putting on your list. Mecan River Outfitters runs a great operation, offering river trips, pheasant hunts, cabin rentals, and a rustic log cabin restaurant. Check it out next time you are looking for a paddling getaway.
And do not tell my soon-to-be sister-in-law I wrote about how they met.
Congratulations to my brother Kevin, and welcome to the family, Katie.
Ben Gruber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.