Winter trout fishing

Fishermen spend winter hours chasing ‘lunkers’
Sunday, January 7, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 8:45 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

A dreary Friday makes most people depressed and anxious for the weekend. For fisherman, the day couldn’t be better.

A handful of fisherman tried their luck Friday afternoon at Cosmo-Bethel park, all trying to catch some of the 2,400 trout stocked in early November by Columbia’s Winter Trout Fishing program.

Barbara Knutson is a seasoned veteran with a fly rod. She started fishing for trout in 1978, but hadn’t gone fishing for the past decade until last fall. She met her husband, Kris, 15 years ago. She taught him how to fish, but after they got married 12 years ago, fishing just wasn’t a priority. The couple stopped fishing. Last fall, she told her husband it had been too long since she’d gone fishing.

“Honey. I’m too old. I need to go fishing again.”

Kris Knutson started fishing with his wife and now the two enjoy fishing together. Barbara Knutson said she goes fishing “every chance I get.” Her husband often goes over his lunch breaks, with a lot of success.

“He caught four (trout) in a half hour the other day,” Barbara Knutson said while preparing her lure.

Knutson said that the Department of Conservation “stocked a bunch of lunkers” into the lake this year as part of its Urban Fishing program.

Another local angler, Michael Nastasio, also spent part of the overcast afternoon fishing with his wife from the muddy bank around the murky water.

Nastasio, originally from Independence, said he began fishing when he was four. A long-time bass fisherman, Nastasio started looking for places to fish after moving to Columbia less than a year ago. He’s found some good lakes in the area, including Finger Lakes, but he also has a secret spot that he won’t share with anyone.

Nastasio said his biggest catch was an 11-pound, 2-ounce bass from a golf course pond back at home in Independence. The pond was later drained for construction.

Nastasio said the bass aren’t big enough at Cosmo-Bethel lake. He said he heard that the lake had been drained around three years ago, getting rid of all the big bass in the lake. Not so for the trout.

The trout are stocked yearly and die in the spring because the water gets too warm. The average trout dumped into the lake is between 10 and 12 inches, according to the Department of Conservation, but Nastasio said after fishing the lake only three times so far, he’s already caught one at least three pounds.

The first time he went, he caught four trout. The second time he caught three more, spending less than two hours at the lake both times.

Friday, he caught a small trout just 15 minutes after he arrived. Soon after, his wife, Laura, caught something else. Looking at her line knotted and tangled around her spinning reel he called her the “master of tangles,” though he said she’s had some luck with the trout too.

Michael Nastasio has adjusted to trout fishing easily, although he admitted, “I really didn’t care for them too much, until I ate them.”

Eating the trout is something Nastasio can’t do during the November 1 through January 31 catch-and-release season.

“I just wish we could keep them now,” he said. Still, catching fish is something he enjoys, even if he can’t eat them.

“It’s just fun. I wouldn’t have come out here if it wasn’t for the trout,” he said, casting out his favorite trout lure: a roostertail. Nastasio said salmon eggs or bait eggs are probably the easiest to fish with.

His tip for trout fishing: “If you keep moving, you’re going to catch more fish.”

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