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Trout finale was one for the books

October 8, 2010
By DAVE SCHNEIDER Journal Outdoor Writer

"The End of Something" is a moving short story by Ernest Hemingway that tells how a relationship between a young man and woman comes to a subtle end.

It's included in his wonderful collection of short stories entitled "In Our Time," which many readers pick up because it includes the classic "Big Two-Hearted River."

The river tale is set in the eastern Upper Peninsula and tells of a young man venturing north to fish for brook trout, which are skillfully coaxed from the stream and cooked over an open fire.

Article Photos

These two nice brook trout were caught during the waning minutes of the 2010 trout fishing season. (Dave Schneider photo)

Both these Hemingway stories come to mind each year as fall arrives in late September and the end of the brookie season draws near.

They highlight what a wonderful sport fishing is while also preparing you for the inevitable - the end of brookie fishing.

Back in my younger, more carefree days my fishing activity picked up steam as the season waned and brook trout populations in a few secret streams suffered.

As years go by and responsibilities grow, though, the final days of the trout fishing season sneak by with hardly a notice, except for maybe a toast to the season after it passes.

This year was setting up that way, too, except for a persistent fellow trout fisherman who works in the office.

It started early on the morning of Sept. 30: "I can't believe it's the last day of the season," he said out of the blue at about 7:30 a.m.

a Few more random comments bemoaning the season drawing to a close erupted from the other angler, then a statement that maybe he'd sneak out for an hour or two after work.

This remark was followed by similar ones until about mid-afternoon, when he said he was definitely going fishing on the last evening of the trout season.

I hemmed and hawed about whether I would join him, and when leaving for the day was still not sure if I could sneak out for the evening.

Then it hit - the season was actually ending at midnight and there was really no decision to be made, except where were we going to fish?

That question was quickly answered as my fishing partner said he knew a good place to go that wasn't too far out in the bush and held some nice brookies. I was a little surprised, seeing he's usually tight-lipped about his secret fishing holes, but I guess because the season was ending he figured I'd forget where we went by next season.

After a not-too-long drive a little south of somewhere - which included a stop at a purveyor of a succulent chicken sandwiches that are no longer available in Marquette - we approached the fishing zone.

It was a wonderful network of small unnamed brooks that ran into an unnamed branch of an unnamed river that looked like great brookie water.

The fishing started out slow, but then my partner started hitting a few small brookies in the holes he decided to fish. I came up empty in the holes I was assigned.

The deep woods hugging the last creek that we would fish during the 2010 trout season were darkening quickly as twilight descended on us. It wasn't long, though, before I heard "I got a nice one on!" coming from around the bend.

It was getting too dark to see very well but I could hear the lunker splashing on the surface as it was played and landed.

It was a plump 11-inch male adorned in brilliant spawning colors, although it was also showing shades of black along its belly that was rather surprising.

All pumped up from experiencing my partner's success, I quickly returned to fishing and finally nailed one. It was only a six-incher, but it was still a brookie and a pretty one at that.

As the woods became fully dark and we started back to the truck, I was advised that maybe I should try the hole where the big one came out of.

Lo and behold, wham, a nice strike and a fish was on. It was too dark to see the fish, but it felt nice on the line and had a little heft to it as I eased it onto the bank.

And it was a beauty, measuring only about nine inches or so but ablaze in fall spawning colors like the other one was.

Now the season was complete. It was fully dark on the last day of the season and we both had creeled a nice brook trout. It was sad that the season was wrapped up, but we were satisfied the way it ended and were already looking forward to next season.

Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His e-mail address is



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