I really don’t know if Trout Camp went the way that anyone expected or not. I have to believe it was pretty close, because I doubt anyone had much for preconceived ideas about it, anyway. I know it took me longer to make the 300-mile drive than I expected. I worked a long day in the Duluth area in an effort to repair, however temporarily, some of the recently flood-damaged roads so folks could leave their homes and get to where ever they had to go. But the spring-fed trout streams of southern Minnesota beckoned and my plan had been laid. I took off south by late afternoon and settled back on cruise control. The weather lady on the radio announced expected temperatures nearing 100 degrees the next day but I figured I’d be standing in cool water so how bad could it be?
I found my campsite and set my tent next to a tiny brook trout stream with just enough daylight left to make a few unfruitful but indulgent casts. There I was, trout fishing!
The day was warming fast and I noticed grasshoppers in the ditch where I parked my truck. Hmmm… something to keep in mind. There was no one else around and I had the river. My Gold Marten nymph took the biggest brown from an undercut bank, and though it wasn’t fast and furious, I caught trout regularly throughout the morning. When I found another one of those slow rising fish, I plopped a hopper imitation close to the bank and the trout took it. Nice! It was getting close to lunchtime when I drove back to town to see if I could locate Scott or any of the others in the crew.
One of the neat things about being in the river valley is no cell phone service. In my youth I took great pleasure in loading camping gear in my old truck and disappearing for a time – I’d missed the hippie generation by some years, but I still liked the idea of stickin’ it to the man and livin’ free. That’s hard to do if your boss, your mate, or anyone else can give you a call anywhere, anytime to see how it’s going. I know I’m something of a retro grouch, but if Big Brother wants to know what I’m up to he will have to come looking. Later I spent a few years specializing in solo wilderness canoeing and paddled hundreds of miles in Minnesota and Canada totally out of touch with anyone and, believe me, your behavior and actions turn pretty scrupulous when there’s no one, and no way to call for help. But when you get back to civilization you know you’ve at least done something and there never seemed like much risk involved at all.
On this trip I wasn’t so much trying to be free as I was trying to do a little fishing with some buddies, so I drove up to the farm country, dug my phone out of my pack and turned it on to get a message from Scott. A short time later we were having lunch and a beer at Mauer Bros.
We met up with Brett and Brent for the evening fishing in conditions that were, for me, miserably hot and humid. Everyone caught trout, mostly on nymphs, I think, but also some dry flys and yes, hopper imitations. My last fish of the evening came on a pheasant tail nymph, the only rainbow I caught. A nice buck deer came down to the river to see what I was up to, and a big flock of turkeys startled the heck out of me when I flushed them in the woods going back to the truck. Cocktails in camp, a visiting raccoon, a leaky air mattress for a bed, more fishing in the morning, a disintegrated wading boot, a tasty tailgate lunch, and before I knew it I was driving north for home. Can’t wait ‘till next time!