“It was so insulting. I’ll never forget it.”
Which might explain when Mel and I met long ago on Canfield Creek in Forestville State Park why he was so kind to me, and why also he was so proud — as he remains now — of the region’s trout fishery.”
“It wasn’t always that way,” Mel said. “When I worked in St. Paul for the DNR in the early 1960s, if you lived in the Twin Cities and fished trout, you didn’t come to the southeast. You went north. Most of the native trout fishery down here was lost due to logging, burning, clearing the land for agriculture and other poor land practices. Habitat work and education of landowners helped bring it back.”
So did the DNR’s trout hatchery at Lanesboro, which supplied non-native brown trout for stocking in streams throughout the southeast. Also helping was a growing awareness among Minnesota anglers of the picturesque, New England-style trout and trout fishing in the southeast.
Through it all, Mel kept records, recording not only trout he caught in the southeast (he also photographed every fish longer than 16 inches) but also his Alabama fish.
And cancer or not, he’s never stopped working.
Recently, he and Vaughn Snook, assistant area fisheries supervisor in Lanesboro, published an intricately detailed compendium of Minnesota trout fishing in the years 1958 to ’63. “It’s valuable historical data,” Mel said.
So it is.
But so is Mel, whether decades ago on Canfield Creek, spry as the gophers he once trapped, or in his basement these many years later, his walker nearby and a smallmouth bass and walleye on one wall, a few trout there as well.
Dennis Anderson • firstname.lastname@example.org