Thursday, April 2, 2015

Springtime is finally here and the ice fishing season is over for me.  My Clam fish shack is packed away until next year and my Vexilar is getting ready to be mounted on the boat.   Yes, the ice is still fishable and fish can still be caught, but I couldn’t get the visions of hooking up with a Lake Superior steelhead out of my mind. 

This occasion was special, because I had put the annual journey with my father aside for a few years.  Working many jobs, earning a new graduate degree, and helping my amazing wife raise our young family has taken priority. 
Dad with a steelhead around 28 inches

However, this year I was lucky enough to sneak away for the 2015 Wisconsin inland trout opener with my old man.  This year was important because he had some health issues in the spring of 2014 that limited his passion for these chrome missiles.  Needless to say, it was more about the father son outing than just going out to catch fish! 

My father is very passionate about steelhead trout, and I think it would be safe to say he lives and breathes for that millisecond when the decision is made to set the hook on an indicator that twitches.  It may not always be a bite. It could be a rock or a piece of wood, but when it is a steelhead, it is game on.  I have always compared steelhead fishing to Muskie fishing; catching a few is a great day.  On March 28th, 2015, my father and I had an amazing day!  The fishing was some of the best I have ever experienced, but spending time with Dad on and off the river was the best. 

Capt. Tim with a steelhead around 26 inches 
We both had to work on Friday and eventually arrived to a very small hotel later than expected.  My gear that had been dormant for a few years needed some updating, and we needed food.  Dad and I spent the evening eating and making sure I had way too much line and flies in my Simms G4 jacket so I could fish the whole season.  Fours hours later the sound of cell phone alarms and classic bedside alarms filled the dark room.  It was 3:30 am.  Game on!  The anticipation of the first hookset overrode the terrible grogginess we both experienced and with a quick “bagel on the fly” breakfast we headed to the river.  

Dad and I both have “our spots” on the river.  In order to get these spots on opener, we needed to get up and get going.  Our goal was to be riverside by 4:30 am and wait until we could officially cast at 7:23 am.  I hiked to my spot first and confirmed with my old man that I was in position.  Minutes later, after a mess of dealing with cheap walkie-talkies, he confirmed his location as well. At this point we had three hours, mostly in darkness, of waiting by ourselves for the 2015 opener to begin.  Dad took a nap on an ice shelf and I proceeded to pace up and down a hill because it was ten degrees and freezing.  At one point I laid down and took in the amazing view of the stars while counting eight satellites zooming by.

Finally, the moment had come.  It was time to fish.  I stepped into the river and made a few drifts.  After some time I called Dad on the walkie-talkie.  He had made three casts and landed a 25 in steelhead!  Minutes after, the chaos began for me.   Before I could even call Dad back, I had hooked five steelhead, landing three of them.  Around 9:30 am I was finally able to call Dad back and tell him to join me at “my spot.”  Dad showed up, after re-tying with frozen hands and lines, about 30 minutes later, and it was incredible!  I can still see us: tangled lines, broken lines, hooking fish, losing fish, and landing fish… When it was all said and done Dad had hooked eight and landed four, and I hooked 15 and landed seven steelhead.  All in one morning!  This is why fishing is so important, the memories I get to make with my father on the freezing cold river that day will last forever, and we will get to remember that day together!  Both Dad and I had obligations to return home that afternoon, so we HAD to leave, but the day was one that topped hundreds of days spent on that river together for sure.  Each day fishing with my father is awesome, no matter the outcome, however this one was one I will never forget. 

Thanks for reading!  As Jiggy Andersen would say, "go make memories!"  

Capt. Tim Hanske 


  1. Glad to hear you had the chance to get away & make some memories to last a lifetime! It sounds like you were both in need of a getaway!

  2. It must be really awesome to have parents like that. Trout-fishing can be a rewarding past time, especially with the right equipment. I can see why you guys would love to just take a day off and fish. Haha! And the time you spend with your father is always priceless, as you get to do the thing you both love. Anyway, thanks for sharing! Here’s to more fishing sessions with your dad in the near future!

    Kathleen Gardner @ Bid 2 Fish