THE WATER IS cold, icy cold, as the early-season trout fisherman, knee deep in the calm waters of a treasured spring pond, stands off the chill with insulated waders.

Strands of misty fog rise lazily from the pond’s surface, giving a ghostly look to the stand of balsam across the pond, a rising sun not yet giving enough warmth to burn away the wraithlike gray wisps.

No other fishermen bother him at this remote pond, a tiny body of water connected by a narrow, marsh-bounded stream to another a half-mile away. It takes a walk of nearly a mile to reach this pond and it is because of that that this fisherman almost always has the place to himself; if you don’t count the company of wild Canada geese, a drumming ruffed grouse and scores of songbirds welcoming another spring day.

This trout fisherman disdains sharing such lovely waters with others, even those who are solitude seekers the likes of himself. He comes to this pond, even as he has passed his 80th birthday, wading the silt-covered bottom of the pond’s edge, avoiding numerous sunken logs, branches and roots that can easily trip up even the youngest fishermen with legs like oak trunks.

In no hurry, he rigs up an ancient bamboo fly rod, one which has been handed down to him by his father and before that, his grandfather. It has seen much of battle with trout, mostly brookies from this pond, but browns and rainbows as well from rivers not too far from here; rivers carrying such names as Bois Brule, Namekagon, White and Sioux.

The rods have been wrapped and rewrapped, covered with a thin layer of glue several times. The silk lines preferred by his grandfather have been replaced by tapered lines of modern days, but the reel that holds them is still a single-action job many trout anglers of the day have forsaken for spring-loaded automatics.

As a trout rises to his left, two more to his right, the cagey old angler ties on his favorite fly, a Royal Coachman, and makes ready for his first cast. Back and forth goes the line, whishing through the silent morning air until just enough has been played out to lay a fly practically on the nose of the trout to his left.

Zing, goes the leader as a swirl marks the spot where Mr. Trout has grabbed the fly. He’s a good one, not a trophy, but a minute or so later, when 11 inches of the most beautiful fish in the world is scooped into a round-hooped net, he is all the aged one could desire. The wriggling trout goes through the opening of a wicker creel and after embracing his good fortune, the fisherman prepares to take one of the two risers to his right.

Again, the silence of the morning is broken by the soft whish of line and leader sailing back and forth, and the tiny plop of the fly settling on the water is audible even to ears not quite as sharp of hearing as they once were.

With barely a twitch of the rod tip the old man is onto another brookie. This one is more voracious in its attack, showering the otherwise calm surface of the pond with a rainbow of broken water before diving into the depths while trying to dislodge a hook sharp as a razor.

The fight is brief and the daring juvenile of 8 inches is quickly brought to hand, lifted carefully and gently, then released after a few seconds of admiration for its brilliant red, green, blue, olive and orange colors.

The old angler looks up at the sky, thankful for such a start to his first trout outing of the season. The reverie is broken when a pair of mallards swim into the pond from around a sharp bend. At first, they do not notice the statue of a man watching their approach, but at 15 yards away they decide they do not like this thing and with a thundering of wings they explode from the pond, wheeling away down the creek bed to seek refuge on the next pond over.

Over and over the trout-man’s line whishes back and forth. Gently it lands here, there and everywhere he can reach from the only firm piece of pond bottom he can work from. Four more brookies come to hand before the sun reaches a height which is sufficient to drive trout to shaded cover, the morning’s feeding frenzy ended.

Just two trout reside in the wicker creel; a creel lined with cool, damp moss plucked from a shaded hump under spreading branches of a huge balsam.

The fishing is over for this time. The old fisherman is loath to leave this treasured place. He takes his time with the sharp blade of a pocketknife, two decades old, cleaning his trout with a deftness gained by many years of experience.

Slowly, he begins the walk up a steep hill to the main trail then, further up a long, gradual grade to the semi-hidden spot where he has parked his truck. There will be trout sizzling in a blackened fry pan back at his campsite in short order; trout fried with thick-sliced bacon and potato chunks in the same pan.

It is something to look forward to. It is another re ward of many for this old trout man.