Gone Fishin'

Discussion in 'Mississippi River Basin' started by spinner, Jan 25, 2009.

  1. spinner

    spinner Staff Member

    Gone Fishn'

    Written by: Len Harris
    Photos by: Barb Harris

    I went to the nursing home to pick up my wife. She had worked
    a double shift because of the bad weather here in
    Wisconsin. The nurse that was to work the shift could not make it in
    because of blowing snow. Barb left her little car
    in the parking lot. I barreled through the snow with my SUV. My wife
    was at the curb waiting for me. She was really tired
    from working a double shift. As we went home, she told me there was a
    new intake in the nursing home. She met the
    guy briefly and introduced herself. The 80ish year old man introduced
    himself as Trout . Barb asked the
    guy if that was his real first name. "Trout" said that his real name
    was something else but he has been known as "Trout"
    since his childhood.

    The nasty Wisconsin winter continued for an eternity. Barb
    logged many long shifts at the nursing home.
    She found out Trout's nickname was given to him by his grandfather.
    My wife told me many "Trout stories."
    My wife told me that he seemed quite lonely and I should visit him. I
    decided I needed to meet "Trout".
    The visiting hours that day were 5pm to 9pm. Off I went to the nursing home.

    My wife usually worked the third floor. I went right up to the
    Nurse's station. The charge nurse told me that my wife was not
    I smiled and told her that I knew that. I was there to visit Mr.
    Trout. The charge nurse smiled and said, "I wondered how long it
    take before you came to meet Trout. He is in room 312." I walked
    down the hallway and walked into room 312.

    I knocked on the door and introduced myself. There were 2 names on
    the door. One of them said: Trout Swenson There were two beds in the
    room. It was quite obvious which side Trout lived in. The right side
    of the nursing home room was like a shrine to trout. There were photos
    plastered all over the wall and four huge trout mounts on the wall.The
    mounts were old and awe inspiring. Three of the mounts were male
    trout and all of them were over 30 inches. Each trout was mounted on a
    gnarly piece of driftwood. The alligator teeth on each trout were
    fearsome looking. The final trout on the wall was at least 36
    inches. It was the deepest female trout I had ever seen. I guessed the
    trout's weight at between 16 and 18 pounds. The wall also was adorned
    with three fishing rods. And there was a HUGE net mounted directly
    over his head.

    I told Trout I was a husband of one of his nurses. He said, "You
    must be Spinner." I smiled at Trout and nodded my head. I asked him
    if we could
    swap some lies. He smiled and said, "Sit on down." Our conversation
    quickly turned to trout fishing. Trout had been born and raised in
    Richland County. He has fished
    the local streams his whole life. He told me his "temporary" stay at
    the nursing home was putting a cramp on his fishing outings. Trout
    had injured his
    hip on the stream last fall.

    We talked for quite some time . I asked him about the four trout
    mounts on the wall. I asked him the lengths and weights. He started
    out the descriptions
    with the same opening line .

    " If my memory serves me right I caught
    that trout on a night crawler on my fly rod."

    The four mounts varied
    from 32 inches
    to 36 inches in length. He said he never weighed any of his trout ,
    only measured them. All of his small stream trout fishing was done
    locally. All of the trout
    on the wall were caught in a 100 mile radius of Richland Center.
    Trout told me he always fished alone. He liked his solitude.

    I asked Trout how he got his nickname.. As a young pup
    "Trout" was enamored with trout fishing. He spent every waking moment
    either trout fishing
    or talking about trout fishing. His grandfather gave him the
    nickname on a spring day when Trout caught a huge trout in a tiny
    stream near their home.
    Trout's grandfather said: "Boy, you could catch a big trout in a mud
    puddle in the middle of main street." The initial nickname was "Big
    Trout" but it morphed
    into Trout through the years. We yakked for a little while longer
    until one of the nurses shooed me out of the room. It was bedtime. We
    had talked for four
    hours, and the time had flown by.

    I made many visits to the nursing home to talk to Trout that
    winter. We always talked about trout fishing. I asked him if the
    four trout on his wall were
    the biggest trout he had ever landed. Trout's eyes squinted and the
    tone of his voice rose with anger ....

    "There was this one SOB that got away at shore. It was a massive
    male brown. I played it for almost an hour and I had him next to
    shore and grabbed my
    net and tried to net him. That darn trout just straightened itself out
    in the net and made one more shake of its head and it got away. I can
    still remember
    the blasted thing mocking me as it slowly swam away, and I swear on
    my momma's grave that durn thing just turned right around just like it
    was lookin' right at me.
    Then it just swished its tail and it was gone."

    Trout turned and pointed to the huge net on the wall above his
    bed. He said: "I bought that net the next day. You'll never hear any
    "real" trout angler say "I wish I had a smaller net." I went right
    out that next day and bought three nets as big as Trout's.

    Spring was approaching quickly and I was getting really fired up
    about opening day. I stopped to talk to Trout to pump him for some
    information on where he thought
    I should fish opening day. Trout looked at me and said he was quite
    puzzled,. "You want me to tell you where to catch a big trout? Where
    is the fun in that? You
    need to earn your own trout. Get out there and catch a big one and
    report back to me on your outing on opening day. I don't want to hear
    about any little ones
    you caught."

    Eight days flew by quickly and It was opening day. I caught a
    couple decent trout and lost one big one. I thought about what Trout
    had said throughout the winter. I fished
    all day and went to the nursing home at dark to tell Trout about the
    day. I walked directly to his room to talk to him. His bed was empty
    and all of his belongings were
    removed from the room . I was really freaked out. I went directly to
    the nurse's station. I was afraid to ask the charge nurse where Trout
    was. The charge nurse handed me
    a sealed envelope. It had "Spinner" written on the outside. I opened
    the envelope and read the shaky handwritting scrawled on the wrinkled
    paper inside.

    "Dear Spinner,
    By now you must have figured out I have moved on. I always told
    you I'd get out of here one way or another. And at my age, I should be
    able to get what I want. Now
    I've been plannin' for a long time to just pack right up and get on
    outta here and do some real fishin'. And I am plumb sick and tired of
    sittin' on my old behind just talkin'
    about it, so I just went ahead and finally did it. Now don't you
    worry about me none. I'm doin' just fine. Just picture me on a
    perfect trout stream, and by golly, that's exactly where I am. Now
    don't go askin' the nurses about me, they'll just tell ya some
    cockamamie story that, well, just ain't true. And don't come lookin'
    for me none neither. I like my solitude and well,
    I just don't want to be found. Just consider me this...

    Gone Fishin'
    Trout Swenson

    I looked up at the nurse and she quickly looked away, tears in
    her eyes. The question rose up in my throat, stopped at the tip of my
    tongue, then
    faded away. I didn't need to ask. Trout had already explained it to
    me exactly the way he wanted me to understand it. There was nothing
    more to say. I turned and
    slowly walked out.

    All of this happened the winter of 2001. I have not seen Trout on
    the streams and have not heard of him since our last lie swapping at
    the nursing home.
    I sometimes think of Trout when I am fishing these days. I smile
    when I remember Trout's eyes squinted and hearing the tone of his
    voice ringing in my ears about the big one that got away.

    Based on a true story
    ~Len Harris

    Len with his nets that are just like Trout's legendary nets.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2009