March 17, 2005 at 9:34 a.m.
We ventured out on Sunday, despite the chilly temperatures, to do some trout fishing on Knapp Creek, in the shadows of Seven Pines Lodge in Lewis, WI. After we arrived and got our rods rigged up, I put him on a stretch of riffle water that undercuts an outside bank. I told him that I was going downstream about fifty feet and would mooch my way back to him. I didn’t make it nearly that far. I turned my back to him and took about 8 steps when he began whooping and yelled, “I got one!” I looked over my shoulder and smiled as I saw his fly rod bend and throb under the weight and pull of a nice fish. I hadn’t unhooked my fly from my rod before he was into a chunky brown trout. Before an hour was up, we’d caught and released ten fish. The brown that he caught on his second cast took big fish honors…for the time being, anyway.
From the riffled waters below the lodge, we walked upstream to fish a large pool below a weir. I explained to Anders that during the months of March and April, this deep pool could harbor some impressive fish, so it goes without saying that he was excited at the prospect of catching a sizeable trout. We were both catching fish at the pool when I tied into a rainbow that taped out at seventeen inches. I felt sort of bad and made quick work of releasing the fish – without fanfare - as Anders looked on with a pitiful look on his face and whined, "You always get the big ones...I never catch the big ones."
So, I got out of the water and told him that the pool was his, and that I’d sit down next to a pine tree and merely watch. I crossed my fingers and hoped that he’d at least have an opportunity to tangle with a good-sized fish.
Then it happened. His indicator dunked under the water and he set the hook, not unlike what occurs when any trout (of any size) takes a nymph into its mouth. On this occasion, however, Anders could only look on in wonderment as his efforts to subdue the fish and bring it closer to him were useless. He looked up at his severely bent fly rod - then looked for help from me. For the second time in half a year, I told him, “Hey, I'm just the guy with the net. It's your fish to catch or lose. Take your time. I'll slip the net under him when you’re ready." And so it went. The tug-of-war continued for quite some time and the big trout wore out his arm, but he kept the rod tip up, put line back on the reel when he could and let the fish run and tire against the drag when necessary.
After I was unable to fit the entire fish in the landing net, it occurred to me that this trout was indeed very large. I haven’t seen a rainbow trout that large come out of a stream around here in quite awhile. Yes, Anders is quite the fisherman. Watching him cast a fly or battle a hooked fish, I need to constantly remind myself of his age and that anything less than positive reinforcement and encouragement from me could undue what will, no doubt, be a lifetime of enjoyment and success for him.
Thawing out and getting sleepy on the ride back home in the truck, Anders asked me three times, "So, who got the biggest fish?" It was a pleasure to reply, “You did, buddy. Wow, that was a great fish. Aren’t you glad now that I didn’t help you?”
Dan Brown’s weekly outdoor column is brought to you by Frankies Bait and Marine in Chisago City and St. Croix Outdoors in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin.
Dan Brown is a director at the Chisago Lakes Achievement Center in Chisago City. In addition, Brown is a fly casting instructor and trout fishing guide at Seven Pines Lodge in Lewis, WI. Recently Brown was featured on Ron Schara’s Minnesota Bound and ESPN II’s Backroads with Ron and Raven, as well as KSTP channel 5’s Eyewitness News Morning Show. He is a Taylors Falls resident and can often be found on the area lakes, trout streams and the St. Croix river.
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