Trout Fishing Postcard

Brian Mann goes trout fishing with guide Brian McDonnell and sends an audio diary from a wild north Ontario river.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

This is one of the best times of year for trout fishing. The water is warming up and the fish are biting. That means anglers are searching for that perfect chemistry of water, wildness and fish. North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann found it on a recent trip to Canada.

(Soundbite of running water)

BRIAN MANN: My friend and paddling partner Brian McDonnell is a burly guy. He flicks and plays his fishing pole like a fencer.

(Soundbite of water splashing)

MANN: By the second cast, he's pulling in supper.

Mr. BRIAN McDONNELL (Resident, New York): A beautiful brookie.

(Soundbite of water splashing)

MANN: We're deep in the woods of Northern Ontario, halfway between nowhere and James Bay. The Wakwaikastic(ph) is a whitewater river, long necklaces of rock and rapids that punch through trackless black spruce. Here, the sounds of highway and industry are replaced by a chorus of frogs.

(Soundbite of frogs croaking)

MANN: We spent the last couple of days navigating rapids - too busy keeping the canoe right side-up to fish. After all that dried food and the power bars, Brian's catch is a mouth-watering sight.

Mr. McDONNELL: It's a classic brook trout. It's about a pound and a half - two pound, red dots, blue halos around the red dots.

MANN: We're on holiday and Brian's off the clock. But back home in New York's Adirondack Mountains, he works as a fishing guide. He uses his knife with practiced skill, sliding it along the trout's belly.

Mr. McDONNELL: What I'll do is we'll check the stomach and we'll see what it's been eating. That'll help us determine what to use as bait for other fish.

(Soundbite of clanking)

MANN: It's a little awkward killing and butchering such a beautiful creature, but the trout too is a voracious predator.

Mr. McDONNELL: Oh yeah, it's been eating lots and lots. Inside of it, it has crayfish, there's an arm of a crayfish. Oh and it's just - the stomach is just packed. Look at that.

MANN: Some of the trout's half-digested prey is still squirming and wriggling, trying to escape.

Mr. McDONNELL: See these are all stoneflies, look at those puppies are still alive.

MANN: While Brian cleans the trout, I set about making a small cook fire using driftwood gathered along the bank.

Mr. McDONNELL: Look at that flesh, it's beautiful - the real orange color. I tend to just gut and cut out the gills and leave the head on. And you can cook pretty much the whole fish. We'll take some onion, take a little dehydrated apple, little olive oil and enjoy some fresh-caught trout.

MANN: We eat with our fingers right from the pan. Imagine the best fish you ever had, eaten while lazing by a fire from the bank of a wild river.

For NPR News, I'm Brian Mann.

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