August 08, 2015

Sour...

One of my buddies from my old job contacted me. Eric (old buddy) told me that he belonged to a Midwest hunting website. One of the sons of a member was being shipped out to Iraq. The website was having a going away party for Aaron Sour. He wanted me to come. I had something planned so I didn’t go. Eric emailed me and said the party was a great send off to a real American Hero. I felt for Aaron because I was in the Army for 7 years and almost ended up in Iran when the embassy was taken over in 1970s.

I saw some of the photos of his send off on the hunting website. Aaron in his uniform was quite impressive. My days in the service came back to me. I remember the feelings I had of Pride In Country. I smiled at the photos and decided I was happy I wasn’t the one going to Iraq.

Couple years went by. Eric recontacted me. He said that Aaron had gone to Iraq and was injured. The hunting website was having a benefit for him. Eric wanted to know if I would donate a trip to a fallen veteran. I have donated numerous Trout Fishing Trips to trout Unlimited Chapters and a few Cancer Drives. It was a NO BRAINER. Eric said it would be raffled off and the proceeds would be given to Aaron for unpaid medical expenses I didn’t even ask what Aaron’s injuries were. I said YES immediately.

Eric told me he would contact me and tell me who had won the Fishing Trip with me at the raffle..The raffle was held late September. I received notice from Eric in October that the raffle was a HUGE success and my trip was raffled off for 3,000 dollars.

A local VFW post in Iowa was the winner of the raffle. The 3,000 dollars was given to Aaron’s dad who was guardian. Aaron was unable to make his own decisions because of the severe injuries he sustained in Iraq. The VFW commander said that after the raffle the entire VFW membership had voted and they voted to give the trip to the Fallen Veteran and his dad. (Phil)

Phil called me right away. He wanted to go trout fishing with Aaron immediately. I told Phil that Wisconsin’s season had closed September 30th. I could tell from Phil’s voice he was quite disappointed.

We talked throughout the winter. Phil was as excited as Aaron to go trout fishing. A couple times during the phone calls from Phil I asked questions about Aaron. Phil was very vague. I asked Phil to talk to his son (Aaron). Phil always had a reason for me NOT talking to his son. Aaron had one infection or another or was going to therapy or just wasn’t up for talking.

I sent Phil and Aaron many photos through the winter of previous trout fishing outings. Phil always told me he passed on the stories and photos to Aaron. I never did get to talk to Aaron in person. We must have shared 40 emails and 20 phone conversations through the winter.

As the date grew closer I needed to know what Aaron’s physical limitations were. I need to plan a good outing for Aaron and his dad.

Both anglers were worm anglers and had fished Iowa exclusively. They had never fished Wisconsin before. I finally got Phil to tell me a little about the injuries. Phil was vague and told me that Aaron was in Iraq on the battlefield and his company was attacked in the middle of the night. Phil said “Aaron was injured very badly.” I tried to get more out of him but Phil was kinda selective with his information.

I was to meet Phil and Aaron at the park in my hometown. Phil said they were accomplished campers and he and Aaron had camped many times in the past. It was raining buckets the day before and I called Phil and tried to re-schedule. I wanted Aaron to have a quality outing. Phil said absolutely NOT. We were fishing no matter what. He said he didn’t care if they caught anything. The father and son NEEDED this outing and they had talked about it all winter. I said ok I would meet them at first light.

I rolled up on the park and it was still raining buckets. Phil told me they would camp on the far north side of the campgrounds near the river. I found the site right away. The Iowa license plate was a good indicator and there were NO other campers in the park. I had checked some of the streams on the way to see their clarity. They were iffy.

 Phil met me at my truck. He had a huge smile and said come meet Aaron. I went in to the tent and met Aaron…….. He was sitting in the dark tent and nodded his head a lot. The rain was still coming down hard. He didn’t talk much. Phil did most of the talking. I learned that both of the trout anglers were kinda new at trout fishing and they had fished for bass,carp,bullheads and pan fish in Iowa and were QUITE good at it. This was the way Phil described it. I told them that because of their Iowa plates it would be better if they rode with me. Lots of locals didn’t like outta state anglers. Phil said ok…..

I had both of the anglers change into their gear at the campgrounds. I decided that changing in a dry tent would be better than changing in a down pour. I had dressed in my waders and gear at home. Both anglers put on hip boots and rain coats Dad tore down the campsite and we piled in to my truck with all OUR gear.. It was still dark out and we drove to the stream………

We parked near the stream. It was not light enough to fish. I thought I should get some more information from the dad and son on their fishing limitations.

 Dad said: " Aaron and I fished 5 days a week before he went the to the gulf.” Aaron and he were skilled anglers before his accident. Dad told me since the accident Aaron’s balance was poor and his endurance wasn’t there anymore. Dad also told me that Aaron’s confidence was lacking since his injury and it was really important to HIM that his son had a good time.

Finally the rain stopped and the sun came out. We fished for 2 hours. Aaron caught 10 trout and his dad caught 2.

Aaron tired out quickly and dad said it was time to go home. We walked back to my truck. Aaron had been quiet most of the outing. Aaron spoke up on the way back to Dad’s truck. He told me he had a wonderful time and hoped we could do it again. I could see his Dad in the backseat of my truck in my rear view mirror. Dad had such a HUGE smile I thought his face might break. I sent both of them on their way and thought that this was one of my favorite trips.

Aaron’s company was attacked at night. The company had dug foxholes near the Tanks and Armored Personnel Carriers. The armored vehicles would give them added protection from enemy attacks. Aaron was in his foxhole defending his position and one of HIS company’s tanks decided to change locations for tactical reasons. The tank ran over Aaron’s foxhole and crushed Aaron’s skull while doing so.

Aaron had nothing bad to say about the military during our fishing trip. He was NOT angry about what happened. Aaron Sour a True American Hero.



Aaron and his BIGGEST brookie ever

August 06, 2015

29 Miles

starting her 29 mile circle bike trail around Stevens Point

Sunset In Stevens Point

My wife Barb shot these with her cellphone.
She is at a work conference in Stevens Point

August 05, 2015

Barb On The Bike Trails Again

 Barb near Stevens Point on a work trek
 She will be doing other trails tomorrow.

Road Art


The wildflowers were bustin' out today.

August 04, 2015

Gone Fishin'

Gone Fishin'

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. Barb told me many "Trout stories." Barb 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 Barb was not working. 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 would 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 handwriting 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.