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10th Annual Trout Day in Forestville a big success

Fri, May 7th, 2010
Posted in The Great Outdoors

Marshall Oeltjen (14) and Skyler Sweeney (15), both of Spring Valley, get their fishing tackle ready to try their luck at Trout Day on May 1st. Photo provided by Steve Harris

The 10th Annual Trout Day event at Forestville Mystery Cave State Park on Saturday, May 1st, had the biggest turnout in its history, great spring weather, and fun for all ages. To top it off, there were even some fish being caught.

Trout Day, hosted and sponsored by Jim Wernimont, a resident of Spring Valley, and Culver's of Rochester, is a free event that invites people of all ages to enjoy a day of fishing, how-to-fish seminars, an outdoor cookout, story-telling, and a fun day in the outdoors. More than 100 people, including many family groups, came to this year's event, but even if they didn't get a nibble, says Jim, it was worth the trip.

"We live in an area that has such wonderful natural resources, rivers, parks, and forests," he says. "Not many people realize that there are more than 25,000 square acres of trout streams in southern Minnesota. It's one of the best places in the world for this kind of fishing. We need to get out and enjoy that more."

The Kevin Feller family of Rushford agrees. Kevin, Amy and their two daughters, Zoe, 12, and Kila, 9, decided to attend Trout Day after seeing the ad in the Fillmore County Journal.

"I get out fishing about 10-15 times a year," says Kevin. "I love it and wish I could go more often. Today was nice because we came out with the girls and they got to learn some techniques, like how to use different kinds of bait besides just worms. We didn't catch anything, but we sure had fun. It makes us want to go fishing together as a family more."

The DNR helps facilitate the event by giving a Trout Day waiver/permit that allows people to fish that day without a license or trout stamp. Seminars on tackle, stream preparedness, and fly fishing were available in the morning, and after a hot dog roast, local humorist and ornithologist, Al Batt, shared fishing stories. Steve Klotz, the DNR Fisheries manager in Lanesboro, capped off the demonstrations by doing "electro-fishing" in Canfield Creek to show people the different kinds of fish present in these streams. To end the day, door prizes of fishing and outdoor gear were handed out to all participants.

"Trout Day is a catalyst to get people outside," says Wernimont. "There are so many things keeping people indoors these days. That's especially true for our kids. Computers, video games, cell phones. We need to get outdoors, especially as families, to enjoy nature together and to see the beauty of where we live. If we've done that today, then Trout Day is a success."

A special, personal motive is also a part of Jim's involvement. He sponsors and organizes Trout Day each year in memory of his brother, Phil, who passed away eight years ago from a brain tumor.

"Phil and I used to fish a lot when we were younger. As we got older it was harder to find time to do things together, but we would go fishing now and then, and we always enjoyed that time together. When he became ill, that was no longer possible. For me, and also for my brother, Steve, who is involved in this, it helps us remember those good times."

Good times. A bright sunny day in the woods, walking along a crystal-clear stream, noticing wildflowers of all different colors and shapes. All that with a rod-and-reel in your hand, and just the chance, maybe a chance, that you'll catch a big one.

"I like what Steve Klotz says about fishing around here," says Jim. "He says that the local streams are very healthy, the fish are plentiful, and we'll look back on these times as the 'good ol' days of trout fishing' in Minnesota. I bet he's right, and it's nice to be able to get out and enjoy them while we can."

Trout Day is an annual event held each May. Volunteers are welcome and needed to make this event possible. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Jim Wernimont at (507) 529-5052.

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