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Continued: Three generations of fly fishermen

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 30, 2013 - 7:06 AM

The Namekagon is a 101-mile stream that runs like a glimmering blue ribbon through some of Wisconsin’s most scenic, forested landscape. In the stretch we fished, the river holds smallmouth bass, pike and muskie.

Floating on the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, we did not see a single home the entire float.

As we rounded a bend, a giant bald eagle swooped overhead and landed in its aerie. The boys found binoculars and watched the eagle’s head emerge from its enormous tangle of branches and debris as it surveyed the area.

Fishing had been slow. After the initial bass, I had a few strong takes, but nothing more.

Kathy kept casting.

Breaking a long silence, Kathy whooped: “Ohh! Ooooohh!! Oooh!”

Kathy lifted her rod and the tip arched toward the water.

“I think I got a hit!” Kathy said as the rod tip darted around.

It occurred to us that we never prepared Kathy for what to do if she actually caught a fish.

“Now keep pressure on the fish,” Wendy said. “Good. Good.”

It quickly became clear she hooked something much bigger than a decent bass.

After a brief fight, Wendy netted Kath’s catch: a 28-inch pike.

Both boys were enthralled with Kathy’s giant and toothy catch.

We took a couple quick photos and Wendy released the fish. The boys looked over the side as it swam back into the glimmering depths.

That night, we had dinner with Wendy and Larry and one of their guides. Wisner and his wife, Janice, joined us.

Fresh from the river and telling stories about the day, Grayson and Zach were already talking about coming back next year. Wisner and I made plans to float Wisconsin’s Chippewa River before fall.

A week later, Kathy stood in our neighbor’s yard with friends, practicing her casting.

 

  • related content

  • The author casts toward the river bank as his son Zachary, 4, plays with a water squirter. Guide Wendy Williamson holds the boat in position during the Helgeson family’s first guided float trip.

  • Kathy Helgeson held a 28-inch pike — her first fish caught while fly fishing — for inspection by 6-year-old Grayson.

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