I raise a beer to everyone connecting in meat-space; on the river, in a pub, over dinner with your family, while brewing, etc.

I will forever value these times.

On the last weekend of the MN trout season, I spent some time with my wife’s family.  My son played with his grandparents, we spent time with great-grandma, and caught up with other family members that came and went for meals, conversation and connection. The weather was perfect, the pace was slowed down, and being together as a family was the focus.

My in-laws live at the end of a dirt road, tucked into a valley.  Rolling hills and bluffs are everywhere.  A place where deer, coyotes, turkeys, hawks, vultures are everywhere, and even a cougar roams the hillsides, occasionally leaving ravaged remains of venison dinners.  And all around, rivers, creeks and streams hold browns, brookies and rainbows.  One such creek runs not but 60 yards from my in-laws house.

I took a couple walks with my father in-law through the valley and along the creek, as I typically do on such visits. Other family members joined us, including my son, who landed his first trout a year ago right on this creek.  He left us five minutes in though, more interested in something back at the house vs. walking through a pasture full of cow-pies.  No worries.  We enjoyed the walk and conversation.  I decided to bring my rod along, as the creek is full of brook trout, and some browns.  I missed more than I landed.  They wanted hoppers and they were aggressive takers when I managed to sneak up on the deeper pools and not spook the fish with my shadow.

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In the depths of the biggest pool, 6 feet deep and gin clear, I watched what must have been four dozen brookies..feeding, relaxing and going about their life together.  From a cut bank emerged a fish that easily pushed over 15 inches.  A true monster.  He moved to the bottom of the pool, occasionally turning and shifting, opening his maw to flash white, displaying his kiped lower jaw as if it was a scepter with which he ruled.  Left alone on this hard to access and largely untouched creek, such a fish is not surprising, but none the less the kind of fish that haunts one’s dreams during the cold Winter months.

Without doubt, we will continue to travel South as much as we can to visit the family over birthdays, holidays and more importantly, for the simple act of staying connected.  And, I have a feeling I may advocate for more frequent trips…and more walks along the creek.

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