Anderson: It's tricky fishing trout, but that's the fun

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 13, 2013 - 7:53 PM

Whether angling on a Minnesota stream or a Montana waterway, the fun is in the puzzle


Fishing from a drift boat, whether in Minnesota or out west, is challenging, and pinpoint casting often is required to place a fly.


– To make the trip here, fishing had to be a priority Saturday, opening day of the trout season. Morning broke with the thermometer barely touching the mid-20s and snow flying. Also the breeze was stiff. Even old-timers who never miss a season’s first day hit the snooze button.

Still, I angled the truck out of the farmyard well before dawn, more interested than eager to see just how high and muddy streams in the southeast might be. Catching trout is one thing, fishing for them another. You can’t do either without pulling on waders. Besides, some streams are like friends, and visits are warranted regardless of conditions. I found a good radio station and settled in.

Others also made the pilgrimage. Brent Rubink of Coon Rapids and his wife, Suzanne, would find themselves along the banks of the Root on Saturday, hoods pulled up and casting to its swift currents. Also Mike Linn of Kimball, Minn., and a couple of buddies braved the elements, as did Fuad Husidic, late, since 1999, of Forest Lake. Before that he lived in his native Bosnia.

“I like fishing here because the river is clean and the fish are healthy,’’ Husidic said. “I fished for grayling in rivers in Bosnia. My son would be here with me. But he had to work today.’’

By the time I bumped into Husidic I had already fished stretches of the South Branch where my sons and I have waded on opening day for 15 seasons straight, give or take. The older boy, Trevor, soon 20, is in college in Montana. The younger, Cole, was taking college entrance exams. The truck seemed empty without them, and I really should have brought a dog.

In Minnesota, walleyes are king, and crappies, bass and muskies. But in ways those fish aren’t, trout are confounding, as are rivers. Day to day, everything changes. Flows vary, as do holding areas, insect hatches and food availability in general. Think you’re smart? Tie on a wooley bugger or a prince nymph or a San Juan worm, as I did Saturday. Try to get a trout to eat it. Or even see it.

Yet the fun is in the puzzle. Add a split shot here, and another. Change flies. Cast to a different lie. Look for current seams.

“It’s just not so good today,’’ Rubink said. And he cast again.

• • •

Over Easter, Cole and I flew to Montana to fish with Trevor. Sap wasn’t flowing yet in the sugar bush and walleye fishing on the Mississippi seemed a cold day’s work. So there was little to hold us at home. Anyway, the skwala hatch was happening on the Bitterroot River and Trevor was taking rainbows, cutthroats and browns on top.

From Missoula, the three of us drove south an hour or so to launch Trevor’s drift boat. This was different from our earliest trout-fishing trips to southeast Minnesota, when the boys, still in grade school, were buckled into the back seat of my truck, asking questions while watching the countryside change from flat to rolling. They knew the Root River or Hay Creek or the Whitewater lay ahead, flowing clear, muddy or something in between, and they wanted their trout.

Now in Montana on a warm late-March day Trevor piloted his pickup on two-lane blacktop, having decided where we would fish and why. Cole was dialed in as well. The old man can feel put out to pasture in these circumstances, and I watched the swales and valleys that gathered alongside the highway give way to snowy mountains. A good day, it seemed, to fish.

Launching the boat in the Bitterroot, Trevor went quickly to the oars as the river’s middle currents swept us downstream. Cole cast from the front of the boat, and I, the back. This was late morning and already the temperature neared 60.

“Cast as near as you can to the bank,’’ Trevor said.

Only minutes passed before Cole said there and his line straightened, a dandy brown trout pulling his long rod into a deep bend, the fish’s flanks refracting sunlight through the clear river.

Just how trout conspire with moving water to exact so much attention and, ultimately, inspiration from anglers remains a mystery on the order of love and religion. But they do, and after the fish was landed we examined its delicate coloring and the deep resignation with which it considered its predicament. Then we released it among rocks smoothed by eons of rushing water, its freedom as much a gift to us as to the fish.

On and on we drifted, the Bitterroot in spots awash in foam and tumbling over boulders and through tight bends. Sometimes we dropped the anchor in still water and waded upstream or down, fishing skwala imitations on top and occasionally adding a bead-headed dropper. This occurred beneath a warming sun and really not very much river traffic. Sometimes Cole leaned into the oars while Trevor cast from the bow. Otherwise, Trevor rowed. Either way, the boys pinpointed trout that inhaled our flies, the fishes’ noses tipped up in anticipation.

  • related content

  • A robust, brightly colored brown trout taken over Easter weekend on a dry fly while fishing the Bitterroot River in western Montana.

  • Fuad Husidic of Forest Lake cast for trout below the dam at Lanesboro, Minn., on Saturday. A native of Bosnia, Husidic came to the U.S. in 1999 and likes to fish southeast Minnesota’s streams for trout because “the rivers are clean and the fish healthy.’’

  • A stonefly known as the skwala appears in some western Montana rivers as winter winds down and before rivers rise due to melting snow. The hatch, when it occurs, can be readily matched by fly anglers, who often take trout on the surface with dry flies.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 7 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 1
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Houston 85 FINAL
Miami 90
Indiana 89 FINAL
Minnesota 107
Utah 105 FINAL
Oklahoma City 91
Portland 93 FINAL
Denver 75
Phoenix 114 FINAL
LA Lakers 108
LA Clippers 107 FINAL
Golden State 125
San Jose 3 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Rangers 4 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 3
Toronto 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Detroit 1 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 2
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Nashville 4
Carolina 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 3
Philadelphia 0 FINAL
Chicago 4
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Dallas 6
Florida 4 FINAL(OT)
Colorado 3
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(OT)
Calgary 1
Arkansas State 40 FINAL
Louisiana 55
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question