Thursday, April 30, 2009

Trout Opener 2009...with a whimper~~~

Two weeks ago, I was excited as a lower-middle-aged man can get.

Why, you ask?  Well, I was packing my car with the essentials.  You know...sleeping bag, lantern, campfire-chairs, hip-waders and yes, my trusty fly-rod.  I was heading out for a reunion of the Hull boys and Trout opener at Hay Creek Campground.  In this case, the Hull boys were Uncle Patrick and Cousins Bill, David and Tim.
Hay Creek is a tiny blip on the map, just outside of Red Wing, MN.  Redwing is the home of "the shoe" better known as Redwing Shoe...some of the finest footwear in the world.  It is also the home of cousin David and his wonderful family.  Last year was the first time we had not gone down to Elba, MN and camped at the Lazy-D Campground.  Last year was also the first year that we missed trout opener...not because we didn't go, but instead, because we jumped the gun by a week.  None of us decided to check the trout calendar.  Oh well, it was still a nice weekend.  This year we checked the calendar and hit the right weekend.  

We all arrived on Friday and got settled in.  By settled, I mean that I had a beer in my hand within 5 minutes of arriving.  In this family, beer doesn't simply mean Miller Lite or Bud.  There's usually a diverse mixture of acquired tastes.  For example, Spotted Cow (thank you New Glarus, WI), Mississippi Mud, Moose Drool, Grolsch, St. Pauli Girl, etc.  This year, Pat even brought some Schlitz...yes they are making it again.  Unlike most years, there was also some Captain Morgan, Scotch and even some Rumplemintz (courtesy of our "interesting" neighbors).  What happens at Hay Creek, stays at Hay Creek.  It was fun to hear some of the same stories that have been told since I was a...glimmer;)

Saturday morning came much too early.  I was reminded that drinking at near-college levels does not work when you have the tolerance of a two-bottle-limit triathlete.  Ugh!!!  Pounding head and tender tummy were the order for the day, not just for me, but for the rest of the crew too.  For breakfast, Tim and Pat had the best ideas for hangover food.  Tim thought that we could make egg muffin sandwiches by frying eggs in a muffin pan, slicing some Widmers brick cheese and placing it all between a Thomas' english worked like a charm...even over the campfire.
Pat brought some granola, yogurt and cooked some steel-cut oats.  All of this food helped to fill the void and get us on our way.  

Please note, this was trout opener and I haven't mentioned fishing yet.

We finally hit the creek at about noon.  It's still cool enough in the morning where a hatch doesn'treally occur until between 1 and 3PM, so we were right on schedule...more lucky than good for us.  Hay Creek, or at least the section we fished might not be the spot for season opener from now on.  

These pictures don't really show it, but fishing was pretty tough with downed trees, steep rocky banks and lots of overhead snags.  After an hour and a half, we were kind of pooped and decided to regroup.  I did manage to catch a beautiful little Brownie, but that was it. 
 Everyone else was skunked.  It was about this time that Cousin Amy called that she was on the way to the campground with her two boys.  We decided to go back and grab some lunch and enjoy their company.  Once we got back to the campground, David called his wife Shelley and had her bring their three kid out to play too.  Pat's daughter (Cousin Kate) drove down from St. Paul to say hi as well.  All of a sudden we went from a party of five to a bakers dozen.  It was great seeing everyone, but it was clear that the fishing was done.  

After some lunch (brats and sausage), catching up and kids fishing, the ladies and kids left us to our quiet campsite.  Tim napped, I nursed my slight headache.  The other guys checked their blackberries and played some cribbage.

Dinner was up next and Patrick shined.  He brought about 7 pounds of Atlantic King Salmon.  The fillets had that super-fresh orange/pink tint and were thicker than my hand.  To prepare them, Pat made an aluminum foil tray, sprayed the fillets with a coating of canola oil, covered them with brown sugar and then topped them off with some crushed cashews.  I have never had salmon prepared that way before, but it was delish!!  We literally stood around the fire, each with a fork in hand and picked at the salmon until it was about 2/3 gone.  Oh so good!!  After dinner, some of the others were able to crack a beer or Captain/7up, but I stuck to diet Pepsi and water...what a wuss.  The evening ended on a pretty tame note...helped along by some light rain, so we all hit the sack.

Sunday morning came with the rain still falling and man the temp had really dropped.  What to do, what to do?  Canadian!!!  Basically we crowded around a camper table (inside) and played 21/blackjack until the guys had to leave.  I think that I ended up about 6 or 7 bucks, but as long as the money stays in the family, it's all good.

I'm not sure what we'll do next year for opener, but as long as we're all healthy and actually decide to fish, it will be fun again.

Thanks guys for a fun weekend!!