Last weekend, after spending the morning doing my chores, I wondered what I could do with some afternoon free time. It was too cold to chase walleyes near Red Wing on the open water of the Mississippi River. It was still a little early to go shed antler hunting because most of the bucks were still using their horns. Grouse hunting had already closed. I was running out of options when the solution came to me: catch a trout. The catch-and-release season was open and catching a trout would beat sitting at home watching a fishing show.
The first order of business was to gather up my gear. On a guess, the last trout I caught was probably in August which meant the gear had been stowed and forgotten about. I grabbed my trout backpack, my favorite spinning fishing rod and I took off for the trout stream. Luckily, the temperature was headed towards 30 degrees which was important in that my fishing line and my hands would not freeze up.
Trout fishing in the winter is a pretty neat thing unless you’re the first person to fish in that area. In this case I was, which meant that I had to break trail every step of the way. I wondered if wearing hip boots and snowshoes at the same time violated some sort of trout fishing fashion rule.
After building up a slight sweat as I fought my way to the first trout hole, I was ready to go. My goal was not all that lofty in that all I wanted to do was to catch one trout. If someone says trout fishing, I automatically think of early summer and not fishing through snow drifts. I was on a mission to score one against winter.
My first cast went unanswered as did the second, third, fourth and fifth. On a guess, somewhere around cast number 58, a trout hit my small rooster tail. For a couple of seconds I thought I was going to accomplish my goal of landing the first winter trout of the 2020 season. Unfortunately, after a couple of head shakes and a half-skip across the water, the brook trout was gone and that was that, but it was only half of the bad news. If I was going to continue my quest to catch a trout it meant that I would have to break trail through more snow to the next hole. The idea of catching a trout seemed pretty neat when I was warm and safe at home. Standing in knee deep snow trying to actually do it wasn’t nearly as much fun.
I possess a lot of qualities and one of them is stubbornness. Because of that, I forged ahead to complete my quest. As I inched forward to the casting spot, I hoped that I hadn’t spooked the trout upstream. When I finally got into position, I fired a cast above the trout hole and started reeling. I could see a small wake following my lure so I knew that I had an interested fish. A fraction of a second later I felt the tug on my line and I tugged back. A sort of fight broke out which ended with the trout laying on the snowdrift alongside the edge of the stream.
I caught my fish. I had scored one against winter, but I have to admit that by the time I trudged through the snow to get back to my truck, I was drenched in sweat and kind of spent. So I don’t really know if I beat winter, but on a guess, I would call it a draw.