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Continued: Anderson: If you like a challenge, steelhead worth fighting for

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: June 1, 2013 - 11:50 PM

This was probably a big hen, spawned out. Or possibly a buck, maybe with a hooked jaw, a real prize.

The run where the fish picked up Trevor’s yarn fly was only a small sliver of relatively quiet water amid the river’s wide torrent. Into this faster, deeper water, rod held high, Trevor ran and stumbled downstream, hoping to find a broad eddy slack enough to skid the fish to a stop.

Until then he needed to keep it free of the river’s many deadfalls and boulders.

Born in this river, and passing its early life here, the hooked fish had spent two or three years maturing in Lake Superior before returning to its birthplace.

Surface fed, Minnesota’s North Shore steelhead streams empty out nearly as quickly as they fill up.

Consequently, they often don’t carry enough water to overwinter steelhead. Fish here instead spawn and leave, mystery enshrouding their every movement, and really all they do.

Trevor came and went past me as if pulled by a freight train.

Freezing the mayhem, I snapped a few photos.

It’s a metaphor, this fish fighting, a friend once said.

The angler in the end will hoist the fish in victory.

Or lose it in defeat.

Either way, both are fleeting.

Just like in life.

“In time, it’s the struggle you learn to appreciate,” my friend said.

Downstream now, Trevor dug in his heels, but found only trouble.

His leader broke and the fish disappeared.

Our friend Dave Zentner of Duluth would also fish the next day, and there would be more hookups, with a few fish coming to hand.

But for now, overlooking the river, Trevor and I found the narrow wooded trail that led both upstream toward more fishing and downstream toward everything we had left behind.

  • related content

  • Rainy, cold spring dampens state park and trail use

    Saturday June 1, 2013

    Renovation projects await summertime users, too.

  • One of the most beautiful fish in the world, and among the strongest, is the steelhead, or migratory rainbow trout, a fish that lives every day on the knife edge that divides life from death, and universally inhabits some of the world’s wildest and most scenic places.

  • Michael LaBarge of Little Marais, Minn., tried his luck fishing for steelhead on a North Shore river.

  • Here Trevor Anderson races downstream in pursuit of a big steelhead he hooked, hoping to find slack water where he can control the fish. A steelhead is one of the world’s strongest fish, pound for pound.

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