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Jerry Davis: Madison woman reflects on trout waters

October 8, 2017 GMT

IOWA COUNTY — LeAnn Austinson recalled things special about fishing in general, and trout fishing in particular, while marinating in early October sunshine.

“Mom and Grandma would take us fishing for entertainment,” she said, basking in herw warm memories of yesteryear. “Those were the best times of my life.”

Fishing, and most other things relating to being outdoors, are special to the Madison woman, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma eight years ago, when she was 27 years old.

“Trout fishing is like going to church,” Austinson said. “It is my prayer time.”

Robin Ruck, Austinson’s mother, had some unique thoughts while the two fished a week ago using different techniques, hoping for a follow, a hit and maybe a chance to use a new net they brought along after losing two fish several weeks earlier.

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“It’ll be a memorable day today if we can enjoy the beautiful weather together,” said Ruck, 60. “I enjoy the outdoors immensely, but I work at Bavaria Sausage in Fitchburg, so during one of the best times, deer season, I’m the busiest and usually can’t get out much. Even now it’s Oktoberfest all over the country and it’s already a busy time.”

Austinson became aware of conflicts between jobs and hobbies and has tried to avoid those.

“Having a career in anything outdoors is my dream but I know and have been told if you want to enjoy a hobby, don’t get a career in it,” she said.

Austinson said netting one fish — and not losing more than 10 flies in the process — would be icing on a memorable day.

It was the daughter’s idea to take a ride in the country, pick up her mom and try trout fishing even though the conditions were not perfect for catching.

No fish would go home, even those netted. Neither mom nor daughter were in disagreement here.

“Oh, we take a few bluegills once in a while, living in Madison they might be from Lake Monona or even through the ice. Those are the best,” Austinson said.

After successfully dealing with cancer, Austinson decided to energize herself and leave her 60-hour-a-week position in the insurance business.

“You soon realize how short life can be and think twice about working your life away, never able to enjoy any of the things you like. I’m taking a bit of a break,” she said. “I just got burned out.”

After trout fishing ends Oct. 15, the walleyes start running, grouse hunting in Florence County calls as does deer hunting, too. But she loves fishing best and puts trout fishing at the top of the list.

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The two anglers brought a few snacks and a few beers, too.

“We may drink one or if someone stops by, we can share one, too,” she said. “I can release the fish, don’t have to kill them to enjoy them, either.”

On the way west from Madison, but without chronicling, Austinson expected to see deer, turkeys, maybe an eagle and other wildlife.

“This makes me the happiest,” she said, seeing nature and fishing trout with a fly rod.

“I could fish every day of my life.”

Leaving the lifelong anglers to enjoy the out-of-doors, Austinson proclaimed that one doesn’t need a lot of things or money to make one happy, just the things you enjoy the most.

“Being in Wisconsin one doesn’t have to travel far to be happy,” she said. “Listen to the stream and …”