Whitewater River. One last hurrah: Day One.

Well, kind of one last hurrah. But more on that later.

While I was fishing Skunktown Creek in Iowa, my buddy Phil had a productive weekend on the Whitewater River in southeast Minnesota. He posted a photo of one of his fish, a 16″ brown that was more orange than anything else. It was a gorgeous fish and it was in that moment I decided I needed to catch it. With the Minnesota trout season ending on October 15, the only way to catch such a fish before spring was planning a weekend camping trip to the river.

Five days after I saw the photo, I was on the Whitewater working a six-feet-deep hole on a river that is only 12-feet-wide at that point. Upstream was a fast section. Down stream was a fast section. Behind me was a steep, brushy bank. Across the river is a slew of logs. This required technical casting. Working a dry fly would have been easy, but the same does not apply when working a double-nymph system with a split-shot sinker an a strike indicator six feet above the bottom nymph. It was only inevitable to get a tangle. And I mean a TANGLE.

When someone sends me a sign, I take the cue. It was time to retreat back to the campsite, shed the fishing gear and drive down the highway to the town of Elba, Minn. It has a population of 152 and four bars. Heaven.

Phil and I grab a table at Mauer Brothers Tavern. We take a seat in booth near the back and take in the taxidermy. The walls are covered with world-record replicas of muskies, bass, wild turkeys and moose. Heaven again. We ask the bartender what he has on tap. He motions over his shoulder at the list of off-sale booze. Six packs of Summit. Twelve packs of Grain Belt. Thirty-four packs of Old Style AND Old Style Lite. OK, so it may not have been a 34 pack, but it was a lot of Old Style. Another sign was sent to us: we’re in for some small-town goodness.

“The kitchen is closed, but we still have pizza,” offers the bartender. What does this mean? Is the pizza cooked? Who cooks the pizza? Or more importantly *what* cooks the pizza? Two pizzas and a few beers later, we had all of the answers we needed.

When you’re in a small town of 152 people, go to the bar. Converse with the locals. Be your open self and have a good time. At the very least, you’ll forget about all of the crap fishing from the day. It was after a chat with a guy seated by himself at the bar and the bartender, that we learned the Whitewater trout season is open all year. So maybe this wasn’t the last hurrah.

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