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Continued: Anderson: Haugstad still putting up a fight

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 18, 2013 - 9:20 PM

“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 • danderson@startribune.com



 

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    Habitat is the big victim in the wetlands-grasslands war.

  • Mel Haugstad of Preston, in southeast Minnesota, is a retired DNR fisheries biologist and expert angler who has documented nearly 33,000 trout he has caught in state streams. Exact totals are available, and stunning. “From 1959 to 2012, I caught 32,795 trout,’’ he said. “More than 27,000 of them on flies.’’

  • The pursuit of Minnesota’s trout drives Haugstad. He taught himself to fly fish, and he’s willing to teach others, despite “insulting” treatment he received.

  • Spending winters in Gulf Shores, Ala., where he learned the worth of the local pier, means that the logbook gets a bit more exotic. Two redfish got the Haugstad treatment.

  • The process has barely begun once Haugstad has a fish in hand. After measuring the fish, there’s a photograph to take, if it’s big enough, and notes to compile.

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