Outdoors feature: The hunt for trout

By Scott Stankowski
CWS Staff Writer

Stevens Point—This past weekend of fishing was not the kindest to us for an opening weekend, but at least we had fun.  I set up my spin casting rods and planned on heading to a local lake stocked with trout.  There are several around Stevens Point and I had invited my brother Dan and his wife Lynn to come fishing with the boys and me.  Austin and Cade were just as excited to hang out with ‘Uncle Danny’ as they were to go into the boat for the first time of the year.

The first lake we stopped at was loaded with boats.  Two sets of anglers were coming off of the lake without seeing anyone catch a fish.  With that news, we decided to hit up another lake about ten minutes away.  As we drove through the winding country roads we made our way to one of the many 30-acre lakes that get to over thirty feet deep and are home to stocked trout.  We slowly motored out and set ourselves on a bowl just before the really deep water.  The trout typically cruise the bowl in schools and will hit our crappie minnow offering set about four feet down below a slip bobber.  The first night Cade had the luck as he boated two rainbow trout about twelve inches long.  The fishing was unusually slow for stocked fish.  The highlight of the evening’s events was watching Uncle Danny entertain the boys by seeing how long he could hold a minnow in his mouth.  Needless to say, he didn’t get any kisses from Lynn after that.

The second night we decided that since mom was working again we might as well go fishing as the weather was beautiful.  This time we decided to try our old standby, the original lake that we went past the night before.  This time it was just the boys and I, and the game plan was about the same.  The pressure from others was a bit lighter although we did have some unfortunate entertainment.  Two sets of boats came to fish near us even though they had the whole lake.  The first had a wheelchair on it, which I thought was a really neat experience and a perfect opportunity on a stocked lake.  Unfortunately, the man using it didn’t need it and had it on his boat as a relaxation tool.  Then again he made it plenty clear to everyone he was out there drinking alcohol and he didn’t care if he caught fish.  Austin whispered to me that he was hoping the guy would tip over.  That didn’t happen, but it made for a good laugh.  Unfortunately, their language was not the best and I had to remind them that children were present.  Why can’t people have a little common sense and think of others?  We ended the night early because of that and were lucky enough that Austin caught a leftover trout from the year before, at least that is what we suspect based on its size, as it was about a 16″ brown trout.   I must admit I was a bit disappointed in the DNR for their cutbacks in trout stocking this year.  Fortunately for me, I have two very patient boys, who like to hang out with their goofy dad.

So being beaten on two subsequent days, you think we would take a break.  No way! Not in this house.  Austin was really excited to try and trout fish in waders for the first time.   We have what are called ‘the ditches’ just south of town.  The ditches are loaded with brook trout, and although not necessarily huge, they provide plenty of action and it is a great learning environment.  It didn’t take long for Austin to learn what to look for in the stream, subtle changes in water movement, and anything different in the banks.  He also quickly learned that casting takes a bit more precision here.  He loved it.  I think he casted onto the shore more than he hit the water, yet he still managed to catch a few brook trout for the pan.  It was really neat hearing my ten year old telling me how awesome it was in what we were doing and how relaxing this type of fishing was.  It made me reflect on my first trout fishing experience with my good friend Nick and how that trip didn’t end so nicely as we both fell in and got lost.   Where Austin and I were, you can’t get lost, as the ditches are straight, but as Austin was able to point out, you can still fall in.

With the sun setting and as we started to walk back to the truck, he wanted to try one more spot.  We slid down the embankment and I snuck into the water.  Austin was right behind me, took four steps into the stream, stumbled and fell over.  “I’ll meet you at the truck I guess Dad,” was his response.  I took a few quick casts and caught up to him at the truck.

“Dad, this was awesome!”  were the words I was greeted with as he stood roadside in his skivvies.  He certainly has a way to put memories in the bank.

Until next time,

Shoot straight.

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