The weekend ended with me showing off the picture of my rainbow trout to anyone who would stand long enough to see it.
I know my hubby and his Dutch co workers have had a ton of laughs as I ask each person unexpectedly around our hotel in Eagan, MN if they would like to see the picture of my fish. Now that I have exhausted all friends, relatives, and most of the Twin Cities resident population.
Would you like to see a picture of my fish? Of course!
Maybe a closer look?
This was the trip that had been planned for two years. Last year personal tragedy stopped this trip from happening. This year Mother Nature threw in a springtime winter blizzard to add to my planning anxiety. Even as I traveled to the location on Saturday morning I had my doubts this clinic would still be conducted. This two hour trip from the Twin Cities to Southeast Minnesota had the perfect ending for me, the catching my first rainbow trout ever, in Minnesota, and on my fly rod.
I started my trip to Whitewater State Park with a goal. Cross off getting my first trout by fly fishing on the Whitewater River.
This year I started my plan to visit this river from my office in the Netherlands. While I was researching the Minnesota State Parks events calendar, I saw that a trout clinic was being offered for disabled veterans on trout opener (April 13th) while I was in Minnesota. Luckily for me, I qualified for the program and quickly sent in my personal information needed to participate. I received a quick response that I had been signed up and more information would be provided closer to the event.
It had been two years since I last used my fly rod. That season I was skunked by trout in several locations, but I had fun catching sunfish on my fly rod. I have been itching to get back out and try my luck again.
I watched the weather reports all last week hoping that the blizzard would miss the southern part of Minnesota where the clinic was being held.
As I drove across the flat and rolling hill farmland towards my destination my doubts increased that the clinic would be cancelled once I reached the park headquarters.
Suddenly the landscape changed from farmland into a sandstone bluff valley as I came to the edge of the park. I crossed a river, turned right towards the park headquarters and saw that the river was lined with trout fishermen. Trout opener seems to be a “Big Deal” here!
Pulling into the park headquarters and inquiring what I needed to do for the clinic, I received a strange look, was asked if I was a veteran, and then was instructed that I would have to take a rough road to get to the group camping where the two day clinic was being held.
Maybe, the park employee seeing I was a women and still dressed in my city clothes had his doubts that I had been on many unimproved roads in the past. I laughed to myself as he explained I could have trouble getting to the site. If I could only show him an instant mental download of all the crazy trail roads I have taken vehicles in my adult life (not mentioning my military career) he might have retracted his caution comments to the well dressed lady who stood in front of him.
I exited the park headquarters opened the hatch of my Subaru and changed into my fly fishing Wonder Woman outfit to prepare for the “rough road”.
I arrived without issues at the group camping site nestled along the Whitewater River between the sandstone bluffs.
What a perfect location! I thought, as I walked up to the cabin that contained the sign up desk.
I was warmly greeted by a group of volunteers and Sara Holger the Whitewater State Park naturalist.
This clinic was offered to disabled veterans as a 100 year celebration of Whitewater State Park in conjunction with the veterans group Project Healing Waters, Minnesota Trout Unlimited,and Fly Fishers International (FFI) . The purpose of the clinic is to get disabled veterans out into nature and introduce them to the sport of fly fishing.
I loved this weekend of fly fishing with fellow veterans and will write more about my experience in a future blog.
Thanks again to all who helped me catch my fish.
One more picture for those who missed it. As this beautiful trout will not see a fry pan.
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