I was one of those folks who grew up in La La land. Our town was a small SE Minnesota Village, lined up along the banks of a blue ribbon trout stream, a mill and mill pond... A simple easy place that I think now only truly exists in my mind than in reality. Oh its still there but its changed, as all things have in this frenetic world we now exist in. One of my favorite memories of that place was getting up early before my family, hopping on my mountain bike (a Schwinn High Sierra) and blasting down the bluff to the stream to toss a line in for a gorgeous brown trout or seven...
Before I came to fly fishing I was a die hard spin fisherman. Something that I still contend takes every bit as much skill as fly fishing, only of a different ilk. I would put thousands of hours into spin fishing in my childhood and many of my friends would too. Even today, when I hear buddies who ONLY fly fish talk about "worm dunkers" I react much differently than they might expect. I say that because there are worm fisherman, and there are WORM fisherman. I had one buddy, Dan Draz who could drift a worm much more skillfully than any fly fisherman I have ever known. The results of that skill were always miraculous. Browns don't get huge in SE Minnesota and when you catch something over 18 inches that is something, Danny would routinely roll in 20 plus inch fish, and return every one to the stream.
I came to love spinners. I liked the short cast, the placement the quick retrieve and of course the fish slamming into the bait after its feeding response was sent over the edge. Don't get me wrong, I love tossing the fly these days much more, but there is no doubt that every once in a while I like to huck metal.
This weekend was no exception. I generally like to get my spin day out in the spring. Its a great way to plumb the depths and see what sort of population we have rolling in our streams which in a lot of cases can vary widely with the spring flood or lack there of.
I was also seeing a ton of wolf sign. Tracks, old kills, scat.... you name it. What a day, I was truly enjoying it!
|Big bad wolf. Rear paw over front paw|
|Old wolf kill. Wolves eat pretty much everything as you can see|
At one point I was slinking under a fallen Cedar tree in the stream, trying not to snag my rod when I heard a distinct hiss and tussle in the grass up stream of me about 50 feet away. I looked up quickly expecting to see a deer or a grouse or something. What I saw was a brown blur and long tail instantly disappearing in the brush. It took a second for my mind to wrap itself around what I saw but I was pretty sure I had just seen a really big cat. I cautiously strolled up to the sand bank around the tall grass and saw several fresh tracks the size of my hand. The sand was so wet and soft that I could not really get a true sense of the track. However further up the bank I came upon some older tracks that I posted above. These tracks were clearly NOT wolf tracks, they were much rounder and much wider. Who knows, but I am not afraid to say I think I saw my first Mountain Lion in Minnesota (not my first ever, but the first around here).
Life is crazy these days and while both my economic situation and my new job don't allow me to travel like I used to, it was amazing how just a good afternoon on my local river brought me back to my senses and gave me my smile back for another action packed week.