- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

LEWISTON, Minn. (AP) - When Mark Reisetter got back from serving in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne in the 1970s, he took to flyfishing nearly daily. He found refuge in the calming rippling of riffles and in the joy of being outdoors, the Post-Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1f8A00M ) reported.

“I believe the trout streams became my psychiatrist after returning from war,” he wrote in his entry in a book, “Reflections from 100 Fly Fishers,” which was published early last month.

Reisetter didn’t suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder but, as he said while chatting in his Lewiston home, “War changes a person.” For him, “Streams were a healthy escape.”

He is one of three anglers from Minnesota who are included in the book, and the only one from this region. He was never told why he was chosen - maybe it’s because he advertises in the Trout Unlimited magazine, he said.

Today, Reisetter, 69, is as passionate as ever about fishing. He taught English for more than 30 years at Lewiston-Altura High School and enjoyed spending time in the classroom. He has been a professional trout-fishing guide for more than a decade, and enjoys teaching one or two students at a time, in a classroom that flows against his legs and sparkles in the sunlight.

Though he spent thousands of hours fishing hundreds of streams, those streams still speak to him, and he still needs them. “I feel the same peace, but it’s not as required as it used to be,” he said as he prepared to fish a private stretch of Rush Creek several miles south of Lewiston.

He chose Rush because other streams were too high and muddy. And it was on Rush many years that he caught the 7-pound brown now mounted in his home. He remembers well that trout - he even wrote about it in the book.

He was fishing a Rush pool in 1974, when he was just beginning to get into flyfishing, when he set the hook on a big one. “I knew I had something out of the ordinary,” he said. Instead of trying to horse it in, he was calm and took his time. When the fish tried to dive into submerged brush, Reisetter guided it away. A half hour later, he finally landed the 25.5-inch fish.

He has caught thousands of fish since that day, but none have matched that giant. It was a thrill then, and remembering that day is still a thrill now.

Last week, he wasn’t counting on a 7-pounder but was hoping for some in the mid-teens from Rush. One of his favorite pools was left stranded, and is filling in, after Rush flooded in 2007. That’s the way it is with streams. Besides, it’s a good hibernaculum for reptiles and amphibians, he said.

He perused Rush with a professional’s eye and noted that it has a lot more vegetation than he would prefer. It could use a good flood-flushing, because too much vegetation absorbs sunlight and warms the water; trout don’t do well when streams hit close to 70 degrees, he said. That’s another oddity of streams - a little flooding is good for them.

After looking things over, he decided on a strategy: “I think I’ll tie on a bead head and march right up to the top.” His fly was a size 10, unusually large, but Reisetter uses it. “It works,” was his explanation.

A trout broke off his fly on his second cast. “That’s a good sign,” he said and tied on another.

Soon, he set the rod on a nice fish and tried to coax is out of a riffle. But the fish was too quick and hid behind a rock. Reisetter had to walk up to it to try to get it out but broke off.

He tied on another. The day was warm and sunny, and he was happy to be on the stream. He said it reminded him of a line from “The Pony Man” by Gordon Lightfoot: “And the river tells a story in the window by my bed.”

Fish weren’t taking the bead head, and Reisetter had not solved the daily riddle of what fly the fish wanted. As much as he has fished, he was still puzzled. But he did add a bit of weight to his line before he changed flies. That’s the tip he offered in the book.

He also prefers riffles over pools because trout can lay in them without expending too much energy, and food comes along fast, forcing them to make snap judgements. He was hoping one snap judgment would make a big trout snap up his nymph.

Reisetter remembered catching a nice one at the next pool he went to. “Will it knock on the door again?” Nope.

As he and the day moved on, he hooked, landed and released three small browns. Certainly not a day to write about, at least not one for the record books nor or a book on trout reflections.

But Reisetter knows there are other values in fishing, such as the cooling waters on his legs and the hope, always the hope, of the big one.


Information from: Post-Bulletin, https://www.postbulletin.com

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