Last February I met up with Gary N-ski and Wally Banfi at the Madison Fishing Expo. They are radio personalities for Ultimate Outdoors Radio. Both of them are big time anglers and Wally guides for most species. I looked at some of their photos and was awed at some of their walleye and giant muskie photos. I was quite intimidated by their photos and obvious water savvy.
We talked over the three days numerous times. I got to know them quite well and invited the two of them to go trout fishing with me in “The Heart Of The Driftless Area” for small stream trout. They have really busy schedules and it seemed like we might not be able to do it any time soon. The months went by and I thought they were probably busy with their radio show and giant muskies and wouldn’t have time for me but I was wrong. I received an email from Gary a couple weeks ago and he wanted to set it up for Sunday.
We were to meet at the gas station on the west side of Richland Center at 6am. They arrived very punctually in their big white truck. The Ultimate Outdoors Radio logo on the side of the truck made me feel like maybe I had bit off more than I could chew. These guys that were use to monster walleyes and giant muskies would be bored quickly with small stream trout. There was no question where and what we were going to pursue. Big browns in bigger water. I had Gary and Wally transfer their spinning rods to my vehicle. I was going to be the chauffeur. I also didn’t want the logo on the truck to attract extra pressure to my big trout water.
I had thought out the first place we were going to fish. It was about 15 minutes from where we met. They botth piled in to my old tank Mercury and off we went. Both anglers had their early roots in trout fishing. Wally was reminiscing about his youth on Columbia County trout streams. Gary chimed in about the monster brook trout his buddy had caught in his youth. Gary said the 23 inch brookie was in small pocket water about 20 yards above where he typically stopped as a kid. Only 20 yards upstream further and that 23 inch brookie would have been on his wall instead of his buddy’s. Our conversations there were all trout related. They spanned from the Upper Peninsula to Dane County streams. These muskie professionals were hard core trout anglers as kids. I smiled as I listed too their stories. Cut from the same mold I thought.
Our first stop was a new hole. I had a hot tip on a monster brown living in a rock faced hole on a tiny stream. Gary right away said Wally should have first bat at the massive brown in the rock faced hole. We had a planning session before we hit the water. Gary and I would hang back to make sure we wouldn’t spook this weary leviathan. Wally placed himself perfectly for the first cast. His spinner hit the water and the resident monster turn on the spinner and motor-boated at the spinner. The thing was so big it cut a huge wake as it stormed the lure. Just before the big brown got to the spinner its back broke the surface. It was like a scene from the Jaws movie. The brown rolled at the spinner without biting it and disappeared back in to the depths and did not return. Gary and I watched the entire drama from a distance and were mesmerized. Wally casted a few more times in the hole without any more action.
We walked back to the vehicle and talked the entire way. Wally was clearly shaken and he said his knees couldn’t stop shaking. We talked about the hole and if we had approached it wrong and what we should use on a return trip. Wally said: “That trout was the biggest trout I have ever seen in my life.” It made me feel like I was beating the bushes in Columbia county again as a 10 year old. His eyes were as big as saucers as he spoke. This muskie nut was transported back in time by a small stream trout. Fishing is truly timeless and these two professional anglers showed that to me several times during our morning outing. Gary picked on Wally a little the rest of the morning. The picking on turned the other way later when Gary lost a big brown.
We covered lots of water that morning. We caught about 30 trout between the three of us. We deposited a few spinners in the trees. I got to show a good time to a couple quality anglers. I saw both Wally and Gary enjoying themselves on the streams of “The Heart Of The Driftless Area.”
Trout fishing is my favorite pastime. Each time I cast in the stream the feeling of endless possibilities is there when the lure hits the water. The rush of a trout lost or landed warps me back in time to my youth. Thank you Gary and Wally for reminding me how timeless trout fishing truly is. Fishing in general is where a fully grown man can feel like a kid again on every cast.