An we come to the end of fall with the wind and rain washing away the last vestiges of fall color, we again begin a transition from one season to the next. I remembered that the fall had not left us behind on October 14, 2sd until the last day of the Wisconsin indoor trout season. That day, I joined two old friends to mess with some wild brook trout. I couldn’t wait to go out and admire this most colorful trout.
My companions that day were Dave Carlson, 74, of Eau Claire, and Jon McCorkle, 72, of North Branch. At 70, I was the kid in the group. We chose a creek in western Wisconsin where three 216 year old fishermen have weighed down their traps and approach a trout stream that changes with age. In my mind, I’m still that 20 year old boy walking the Big Thompson River in the Rocky Mountains. It’s because we never get old in our mind, but my body tells me a different story.
Dave, an outdoors writer and former TV reporter, now at the World Fishing Hall of Fame, was there to make a story about Jon. Dave said of Jon: “He might be getting old, but he never will be. Dave and Jon both have Parkinson’s disease and neither man has stopped doing what they love to do best, going outside. They have each had to give up certain things as they age, but they will never stop loving what they do.
Jon no longer hunts with a gun. “No one wants to see a shaking old man holding a shotgun near them.” Parkinson’s has hit Jon hard with shooting sports, but I joke with him that all the jerks have made him a better angler … Dave and Jon have both gone through many forms of therapy. to keep Parkinson’s disease at bay and both agreed that it had helped. Dave told me he lost a lot of weight boxing and wanted to drop to around 200 pounds. He plans to take his young Spring Spaniel to a game farm with a friend and shoot a few birds at her.
Jon recently dropped a nubbin buck on his son’s land with a crossbow. To prove it wasn’t an accident, he came out a few days later and put a bolt, a crossbow arrow, in a squirrel from the same stand. I’m not quite ready to let Jon pull an apple out of my head, but I’m in awe of both Dave and Jon and this attitude they never give up. The same trail on which at the end of the day of fishing we laughed at our fall. Me twice, but no one got wet or needed bandages. Fish were caught and some were then eaten. We admired the colorful brook trout we fished that day and we all can’t wait to go again next year.
Jim Bennett is an outdoor enthusiast who lives and works in the Sainte-Croix Valley and can be reached at [email protected] for comments.