Outdoors

A day of trout fishing yields a smile

The Nature Call: One fish is all it takes for that goal

A boy holds a brook trout during a fishing trip in April. (John Lawrence Hanson)
A boy holds a brook trout during a fishing trip in April. (John Lawrence Hanson)
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One trout is enough to put a smile on a boy’s face.

One trout is not enough for a family meal. He would continue fishing.

Achingly close to Linn County are trout streams near Manchester. Denver, Colo., has mountains to see, mountains with trout. But for the frustrated masses who live east of I-25, a dash to cool water can easily be an hour of tense traffic.

Once I got stuck behind a pair of slow RVs on Highway 13 for about two miles. We all have our burdens.

I wanted to go trout fishing to see some snow from the surprise late April event. They do things like that in Denver, too.

Trout make me happy. Trout fishing also makes me ecstatic. The flowing spring water, the sheltering of trees and the joy of all the senses make it easy to understand the place of trout fishing in literature and dreams.

I didn’t need to catch trout, I just needed to try.

A foul preteen on the other hand needs to catch a fish. I debated on taking him, going fishless — as I am wont to do — might make things worse.

Bailey’s Ford is pure Iowa. It’s a county park, a campground and a public trout stream rolled into one. Add the hitching post “for our Amish friends” as well as the constant bawl of distant cattle and, well, you get the picture.

The lengths of snow that persisted in the hidden recesses of the parking area were colder than the water beyond. Trout need cool temperatures. Brook trout demand a steady 48 to 55 degrees.

The first pair of spots were fruitless. Dread descended like clouds. Maybe a wee farther up.

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This spot was a repeat, the pool was void and the blowdown across the stream only promised to be a nightmare of snagged hooks.

But wait. If such a tangled mess repealed people, then I bet it attracted trout. My rubber knee boots allowed me enough distance to find an opening — and trout.

There was no way for him to cast there. His sneaker-clad feet would keep him too far away anyhow. I turned while thinking and instantly learned the temperature of the water in my right boot. It was about 50 degrees colder than my foot.

Without grace or dignity I surged from the stream and soon was sitting atop a log. I hailed the boy’s attention, and then dramatically poured the water from the boot onto the sandbar.

He had no smile, but now I had an idea.

In short order, he was in the boots and dipping a line into the gap. With a whoop, out came a fish and across the sand I ran in stockings to grab the trout before it wriggled free.

And a smile. When you’re 11 you keep every fish. He fished more and I tried to ID a warbler-looking bird in the still naked Ash tree.

Five more times, I scooted across the sand. Now our creel held enough spring-creek natives for a meal. We righted our footwear and headed out.

We dropped about 70 feet of elevation from the park to home. In the Stapleton neighborhood, it would be a drop more like 342 feet from Golden.

Four trout is plenty for supper. But if you’re seeking just a smile one is more than enough.

Looking up, looking ahead and keeping my pencil sharp.

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l John Lawrence Hanson, Ed.D., of Marion teaches U.S. history with an emphasis on environmental issues at Linn-Mar High School and sits on the Linn County Conservation Board.

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