Reverse Evolution Written by: Len Harris Lived by: Mark Dahlquist In the trout world there is a pecking order. Most of the anglers doing the categorizing are ones who believe they have attained the highest ranking or skills in this particular species. It is typical in many forms or fishing and hunting to look down your noses at someone they perceive as using a different method of fishing or hunting. This goes with the territory. It happens with compound bows versus cross bows and with fly rods versus spinning rods. The movie "A River Runs Through It" gave the fly anglers a vehicle and a public forum to call themselves the "Zen Masters" and top rung of the trout fishing ladder. Anyone below them were considered less skilled no matter the gear. Thus the term "evolution" came in to play in the trout world. I have trout fished for 50 years and seen the snobbishness first hand. I have had the pompous ones saying I should "kick off the training wheels" and evolve to the ultimate type of trout fishing that is fly fishing. This type of rudeness just solidified my opinions and kept my spinning rod in my hand. Years went by and I heard all the nonsense. I have even heard the evolutionists say that they caught big trout like me in day when they were unskilled and a mere spin angler and I needed to get with the program and pick up the long rod and not look back. The only problem with this rational is I have been fishing for longer than these snot noses that say they caught big trout back in the day on spinning gear. They have ZERO proof of their claims. No pictures and no other anglers to corroborate their claims. I decided to just ignore them and continue on with my barbaric way of trout fishing. I posted some of my photos of big trout on fly fishing websites. They were very interested until they found out the trout were caught on a rod not quite as long as theirs and surely not as sophisticated. In early 2008 I made friends with Mark Dahlquist. He frequented the trout fishing message boards I went on and we became friends. Mark and started fishing together in March of 2008. By May of 2008 I had Mark using a spinning rod more often then his fly rod that he used exclusively from 1994 to 2008. He even went to Montana fly fishing the Madison, Gallatin, and Bitterroot. He personal best out west was an 18" cutthroat on a Madam X. Mark got tired of breaking off on trout 15” or larger with his fly rod. He believed trout were picky and needed very fine line to be fooled and was sucked in to the evolution nonsense. He also followed the catch and release only lock step. His biggest trout on a fly in the Midwest was a 16” brown on the Rush River. He fly fished for trout from 1994 – 2008. All 14 years exclusively with a fly rod.. Mark typically trout fished 40-50 trips per year with a fly rod. Back on 4/1/10 was his last fly fishing trip where he caught over 25 dinky brookies on Pine Creek in western WI near Maiden Rock. It was in a habitat improvement “aquarium style fishing” experience with fake root wads and plunge pools included. Mark only fly fishes for pan fish, generally in mid to late May when they are in the shallows spawning. He likes to use a stimulator dry and a BH pink squirrel dropper. Fast forward to May 2012. You will find Mark on Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin streams with a light action 6’ Gander Mountain ultralight rod with a Plueger 2500 series spinning reel on that rig. His skills are almost unmatched when it comes to big trout. He was lambasted with the same nonsense I heard. His divorce from the fly world was quite painful to his old trout fly fishing acquaintances. His fly rod has been retired for stream trout and it only gets the cobwebs knocked of ever so often for pan fish. Mark has become one of the premier big trout anglers in the Midwest. He has caught 18 trout over 20 inches this year already. Five of the big ones were over 22 inches and one broke the 24 inch mark. The most satisfying number for this year so far is the 5 trout 16 inches long he has caught. He remembers the 14 years with a fly rod where he flailed away with that fly rod trying to evolve and only caught one 16 incher in 14 years. If you looked in Mark's tackle box you will see mostly #9 Panther Martins. Panthers in all gold or all silver are his favorites. He also likes the rainbow trout pattern #9 and the yellow body red spots as well as the black body yellow spots. He likes Panther Martins in #4s and #6s for brook trout. There are also split shots and many sizes and eagle claw bait holder hooks for his night crawlers. His photos do the talking for him. Mark's mother quit asking him why he released all his trout. Mark has evolved in to quite a good cook when it comes to trout. His smoking and grilling recipes are excellent. The moral of this story is do what you like in the outdoors and fish or hunt in any way that gives you satisfaction. Don't listen to the critics out there that look down their noses at the rod or bow or type of gun you use when enjoying the outdoors. Mark is so staunch in his beliefs that all anglers should fish with what they want, he has formed his own message board. It is called Driftless Trout Anglers. Do you think Mark truly needs to devolve and go back to fly fishing?