My arrival home from fishing last week was greeted with my 4-year old son Jack saying, “Why can’t I go fishing, Dad?” Quickly my mind provided the silent retort, “Because we won’t catch any trout with your tornado-like streamside demeanor.”  Though the real answer was, “Of course, let’s give it a go next week!”

I contemplated a destination for the better part of the week. Where do you take a child on a trip? Disney? It’s a surreal experience biting into the utopian apple that is Disney. My last visit to Disney was a few years back covering the Bassmaster Classic. Nothing epitomized the Disney experience more than doing whiskey shots at the bar with Ray Scott, freshly-minted champ Luke Clausen, and a handful of other B.A.S.S. pros at the African-themed lodge. I couldn’t help but think that the larger-than-life Scott had a Darth Vader-like hard exoskeleton that revealed something wholly different when removed. Hobnobbing with the founder of Nascar-style fishing in “fake” Africa, it was a scene right out of a David Lynch picture.

I learned a few things last summer in the kid fishing department. I needed a high numbers, easy-fishing stream to provide us with a successful outing. My kids and I trampled through a few pastures that were just too rough and tumble for younger anglers. Upon a lengthy review of the western Wisconsin database I opted for Pine Creek just south of Maiden Rock.

As we made our way south on the river road en route to Pine Creek, Jack and I decided to pop in on a few bridges. The idea was to quickly probe the marginal lower sections of several trout streams before they dump into the Mississsippi. We were in search of River Monsters, as we had just watched a TV marathon of the hit Animal Planet show. Unfortunately for me, this set the expectation bar a bit high given we were heading to brook trout water.



The Lower Trimbelle River at Hwy. 35


Jack was so excited for his first fishing trip of the year he insisted we practice casting in the yard. We opened the garage up and dug around in the boat to survey the rod situation. He was quick to proclaim that he had no need for his kiddie Cars themed setup, he was ready to step to the big leagues. Last year I had given Jack two fishing rods for chasing trout. The first was my favorite trout rod of all time, a relatively cheap four and half foot ultralight spinning rod from my youth. The second is a seven and half foot four weight Cabela’s fly rod that I picked up a few years back with a reel I had purchased, but had never fished it. When I gave him these rods I figured it would give him something to look forward to, but assumed we were years away from using. That all changed Thursday night in the back yard when he ridiculed me for underestimating his prowess with a spinning rod. I showed him the basic casting process once or twice, and after that he was on solo pilot.



 The Lower Rush River at Hwy. 35. There’s a big football-shaped brown living next to that rock at the bottom. He scoffed at our offerings (please send me pics if you land him).



The mouth of Pine Creek at Lake Pepin. We ran our Panther Martin spinners through fishy looking lies, but couldn’t get anything to go.


It was clear upon arrival at our intended destination, the upper Pine, that TU had put forth a Herculean effort on this little stream. It was vintage Disney. The water features conceived by the imagineers were beautiful and impressive. The runs were crystal clear and absolutely loaded with trout. My research told me that that it was running about 6,000 fish per mile, but I felt as if I could almost see that many in the first pool alone.



We walked the banks for the some time, casting our spinners only to watch the fish scatter as the spinner raced through each pool. I eventually downsized Jack’s offering to a puny #2 Panther Martin which only marginally improved their response. Most fish were glued to the bottom and unwilling to chase. The longer we fished the more insects and risers we began to encounter. I soon came to the realization that our best bet was to introduce Jack to world of fishing a hatch. There was a mixed hatch of caddis and mayflys, so I began with a small stimulater dry with a zug bug dropper which proved to be ineffective. Next up was the old Parachute Adams with a trailing emerger which immediately got a response. I quickly hooked a tiny brookie and handed the rod over to Jack to do the dirty work. This was a ritual that would repeat itself many times throughout the day.



After your first few fish on the fly you deserve a cold brew, or in Jack’s case “snack time.” The buff is both ridiculed and regarded by anglers for it’s fashionable and functional qualities. In this case it saved my ass as my son inherited my pasty white complexion, and his father negligently forgot sunblock.


We spent the next couple of hours pounding the brookies on both the dry and dropper.


This stream is loaded with chunky “fire bellies”.!


I didn’t realize until I reviewed this picture when I got home that I had inadvertently caught Jack finishing his bathroom break while I captured another Pine Creek beauty. This afternoon was like shooting fish in a barrel.



Eventually Jack decided to take a dip in the creek, which forced us back to the car for a change of clothes. We decided to pull up stakes and begin to head for home.



Isabelle Creek at Esdaile. We took a quick detour to Isabelle Creek on the way home to see if we could get Jack a brown on his spinning rod, but it wasn’t meant to be. The handful of browns we encountered were uninterested in our spinners. At this point in the day I came to the realization that I was walking the banks fishing alone. Jack was fishing the hole downstream from me by himself. He’d occasionally yell, “Dad I need help!” when he had a tangle or an errant cast across the stream, but for the most part he wanted to be alone. The last hole of the day he yelled to me, “Dad I almost got one!”



Über habitat improvement stretches aren’t usually my cup of tea, but I have to admit Pine Creek was damn fun to fish with Jack. With it’s lack of streamside cover and creative engineering it removes the potential “problems” created by real streams. I’d highly recommend it as a destination for young kids or new fly fisherman.


Thanks for the memories Walt, it’s a small world (after all).