AS PEOPLE ARE wont to say, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Two months may seem like an interminable time when one is anxiously awaiting a special occasion, but now that we have turned the calendar to March, it seems to me that it will be but another short wait until one of the most magical and special days of the year. The opening of trout season is upon us.

In the last couple of decades, I have received my greatest pleasure from trout fishing on the fabled rivers of northwest Wisconsin, along with hidden spring ponds in that area that take a walk of up to a mile to reach, a walk that relatively few fishermen are willing to take.

Waiting for opening day, I have begun to build up my case of trout fever by reading stories I have read countless times before by two of the best trout fishing authors ever born. 

The first, of course, would be Gordon MacQuarrie, the Superior native who wrote more than 100 stories of the Old Duck Hunters Association, stories that dealt primarily with duck hunting and trout fishing in his beloved northwest Wisconsin home turf. One could say of his writing, and I have, that no more deeply philosophical or outrageously funny stories of those topics were ever written; the stories being one and the same.

Much the same could be said for the stories of Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan native Robert Traver captured in the pages of “Trout Madness,” “Trout Magic” and “Danny and the Boys,” the latter a collection of rib-tickling fictional stories, the former two recollections of fly fishing for trout in the U.P. by a man who ardently pursued his craft until the age of 88.

I think the reason I so love their stories, every one of which I’ve read 100 times if I’ve read them once, is because they are of areas near and dear to my heart. The U.P. and the northwest counties of Wisconsin are places that have given me great trout fishing pleasure.

I have fished many of the same streams, plied the waters with flies and spinners, perhaps casting into the same pools and riffles those two old rascals fished, and because of that, I feel a connection to the authors and the trout streams they loved.

In recent years, I have added another author to my trout fishing library, an author many would never guess was and is an ardent trout fisherman. That lover of the piscatorial pursuits on trout streams would be none other than Henry Winkler, better known as Fonzie.

He has penned a book which I have now read several times entitled “I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River.” Of course, he has never yet met me, so there is a chance someday he’ll have to write a second book with a slightly altered title.

While someday I wouldn’t mind adding Winkler’s favorite Montana streams to the list of favorites I have fished, I have plenty of streams in the north country to keep me happy.

With the addition of a warm and snug new camper my wife and I added to our list of toys last spring, I am already in full planning mode for opening day of trout fishing this year.

I know I’ll be on a trout stream or spring pond somewhere, I just don’t quite know exactly where yet. My favorite stream in Wisconsin is the White. There are several branches and sections that I have fished, and it would seem only natural for me to begin this year’s season on one or more of them.

The last trout I caught last year were three beautiful browns taken on a quiet spring afternoon from a spring pond which required a hike in waders for more than three quarters of a mile. It was worth every chapped heel and blistered toe to get there.

Trout were rising on that warm afternoon, after what insect I do not know, for I was tossing a very small Swedish Pimple at them. They apparently liked shiny fake minnows as well as insects as those three fish, all a foot long or longer found a home in my creel.

That pond or another walk-in section of the White River itself would be a good bet for me come opening day, but I could opt for another river lesser known and closer to home. That would be the Potato, over west of Hurley.

I can’t tell you how many happy hours I have spent fishing that river. Whether in high water where normally spritely little riffles turn into roiling rapids or in lower water stages when it takes knowledge of undercut banks and deeper pools to find trout, I love fishing the Potato. 

It is by design I fish such waters, especially on stretches of river where most anglers don’t bother getting to, where I am able to fish, usually, without ever seeing another fisherman.

My only company tends to be drumming ruffed grouse, hermit thrushes singing from hidden coverts, an occasional duck resting on a quiet pool and other such critters with whom I am happy to share our quiet place.

Sometimes, I catch a good many trout and I am especially happy when those trout are native brookies. Sometimes, I catch nothing and to be honest, I cannot tell you that either such outing is less desirable than the other.

When one can plow through an alder lowland where marsh marigolds bloom in bright yellow splendor in May, one can hardly complain if the fishing, or rather the catching, is poor. 

When one can sit on the bank of a wild river, never knowing what a step around the next bend might bring, one can never be disappointed in how well the fish are biting.

I think Traver, in a single passage from his story “The Old and the Proud,” said it best. Recalling a long ago encounter with an aging trout fisherman on the Big Escanaba River he wrote “I have never forgotten this testy proud old man. In my mind’s eye, I can see him now. It is a still evening and he is breasting the deep celestial waters that run through green pastures. He is inching along with his glistening rod and his staff. A heavenly trout rises. He pauses and prepares to make one of his cool deliberate casts. His magic wand flashes and bends. Whish, sings the line, whish, it goes, ever whish.”