Brian Netzel, a former Duluth resident who now lives in Rochester, wrote to share a story that a childhood friend of his, Dan, had shared with him. It speaks to the way many of us came into fishing as kids, when even a small creek held great promise. It reminds us, once again, how a simple experience in the outdoors can be pretty profound.
Here’s what Brian — and Dan — wrote:
Brian: “I was born and raised in Duluth and lived there for 24 years before work and life required that I move to the southern reaches of Minnesota… (Our investment) in our children is paramount to keeping the outdoors a viable, wonderful, livable place. A while back my good friend Dan (whom I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors with) emailed me a short story about a vacation he and his family took. Ben is Dan’s son, then 4 years old).”
Dan writes: “I stumbled onto a scene that darn near brought a tear to my eye two nights ago. We were camping at Fort Wilkens State Park, which is at the tip of the Keewenaw. The park is on a thin strip of land between Lake Superior and the stunningly beautiful Lake Fannie Hooe. A short stream drains Fannie Hooe in Superior. Ben and I took a walk across the bridge at around dusk and were looking at crayfish when I noticed a brookie finning in the current. A few moments later a boy with a fishing pole arrived. He immediately started pulling rock bass from the stream and literally worked himself into a frenzie when I told him I saw a brookie. He was a ravenous brookie fisherman. He even had 2-pound-test line and an assortment of tiny hooks and lures. He began to deftly cast into all the likely brookie spots, but kept pulling out rock bass. To cast under the bridge he hung upside down from the rungs. He was even kind enough to let Ben have a turn. Ben and I stayed with him for about 45 minutes, but then went looking for the rest of the family, since we didn’t tell them where we were. When we came back, the boy was still there and he was beaming. There on his twine stringer was a beautiful little 9-inch brookie. He was 12 years old. I couldn’t help but think of the two of us about 20 years ago on the banks of Miller Creek with the same look on our faces. Apparently at least some of the youth of today remain susceptible to brook trout fever.”