Thursday, July 19, 2018

Trout Camp 2018!

The first night was rough, but from that point forward it was a great couple of days and I learned a lot, even if I didn't catch any fish.

It was a hot and steamy day on Sunday, when I arrived at Whitewater State Park in Elba, Minnesota for the second annual Twin Cities Trout Unlimited Trout Camp. The predicted break in the heat and humidity had not arrived as early as previously forecast, but we set up in the newly re-opened walk-in group camp. Due to severe flooding a couple of years ago, the entire area on the east side of Highway 42 has been rebuilt with beautiful new shower and restroom facilities, improved roadways, and thoughtfully laid out campsites and group camps. Each group site has its own large pavilion, which would be the center of our activities for the next couple of days. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t break until after two o’clock Monday morning, so sleep was pretty hard to come by. The first fishing excursion was scheduled for 5:30 a.m., and I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t do that.

The first evening we enjoyed a presentation on casting techniques taught by fishing guide, Brennen Churchill from The Driftless Fly Fishing Company in Preston, MN. Those who didn’t know how to correctly fly cast learned how, and those of us who did know how learned to do it better. It’s always interesting to see the look on anglers faces when the instruction and the actions come together to form a perfect cast. If you’re ever in Preston, make sure you stop by their shop on St. Paul Street. Brennen is a great instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and tips to help even the most experienced fisherman or woman.
Monday dawned early, and despite only a few hours of sleep, I was up and ready to go (sort of) by 6:30. All of the meals we ate were prepared by TU volunteers, who also happened to be volunteers with the Salvation Army, staffing the canteens that go out to fire and disaster scenes to provide food and refreshment to emergency workers. Those two guys know how to cook! After a hearty breakfast of pancakes and sausage, it was time to start the day, although I still felt like taking a nap.

Fishing times were interspersed with learning opportunities, the first being a naturalist-led tour of the Whitewater River Valley and its history. I stayed in camp to keep an eye on things, although I have to admit for much of the time the eyes were closed as I did get that nap. After lunch, there was a period of free time where you could go fishing, swimming, geocaching, or take a nap. Having already done that, I went out and checked out some other fishing locations along the river. The afternoon educational program was a fascinating stream entomology class taught on the river by Janine and Benji Kohn and Linda Radimecky. Janine is the current president of the Twin Cities Trout Unlimited chapter.

After dinner, you could, of course, go fishing again, or you could practice fly tying with Vaughn Snook in the Visitors Center. Although I am not a fly tie-er, I do find the process fascinating, so I did a little bit of both. I took my Badger Tenkara rod down to the South Meadow fishing and picnic area and tried several different presentations, but still no luck. So, it was back to the campsite and discussion around the campfire about fishing, politics, the politics of fishing, and organizations like Backcountry Hunters and Anglers working together with Trout Unlimited in programs like this.

The next morning, after a huge, excellent breakfast of (real) scrambled eggs and maple sausage, it was time to wrap up and go home. I may not have caught any fish, but I have hopefully learned a number of new ways to try. I will definitely be at Trout Camp next year, and hopefully, BHA will be one of the organizations supporting the event.

Then, there was the event that I missed because I was at Whitewater. Up on the North Shore of Lake Superior, SpokenGear bike shop was holding a bikefishing workshop called “Gears And Reels.” From their posts on Facebook, it looks like it was a successful event with about fifteen people in attendance. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I found out about it after I had already registered for the TU event, but I, and hopefully BHA, will definitely take part in future Gears and Reels events.

As I mentioned in my previous post, this summer and this fishing season have been seriously hampered by two broken legs and abdominal surgery, but I am thankfully past that now and my granddaughter and I have been able to get out and fish a few times. There is more to these stories, but that is for future posts.

Proceeding on…