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Outdoorsman’s Journal-,

Outdoorsman’s Journal-, Outdoorsman’s Journal-,

An Outdoorsman’s Journal-,

By Mark Walters

Brookies on the Buffalo

Hello friends, Ten years ago, when Reece Frase and Bret Kostka were eight years old, I met them while they were fishing from shore in front of my cabin at Birch Point Resort on Marsh Miller Lake. My daughter, Selina, was on that adventure and I helped these boys, invited them in for dinner and that was the start of a very cool friendship.

For the last 10 years, Selina and I have tied our trip to Birch Point in with Bret and Reece’s schedule. The Frase family has a permanent campsite at Birch Point, and they fish with us and we all hang together for the whole trip.

These guys, who are now seniors at Osseo and Fall Creek high schools, have become extremely successful outdoorsmen and last August, Reece invited me to come trout fish with them for the opener of Wisconsin’s trout season, and that is what this column is about.

Friday, May 1 • High 61, Low 35

We would spend the weekend at Dean Frase’s deer camp, which is in Eau Claire County, between Osseo and Foster. Dean is Reece’s father and bought this property when he was a young man, through labor in the construction business. Reece gave me a tour and I do not know if I have ever witnessed so much deer sign.

Tonight, before they left camp, Dean and Crystal Frase set the boys and me up with their deer camp traditional meal, which is shrimp, venison and cauliflower fondue. I have never had this kind of meal and it was awesome.

After Dean and Crystal left, the boys played cribbage and it was cool to see how they verbally jab each other constantly. They showed me a million pictures on their phones of fish they had caught, a tom turkey Bret had just shot and Reece called in, and lots of big bucks.

I could see the deep pain in both their faces, when they talked about not being able to finish their senior year, graduate or have a party.

The next two days would be a total go-for-it experience, up early, my truck as our vehicle, and fishing the Buffalo River and Otter Creek. We had a bet for big brown of the weekend, as well as brook trout, and we had a blast as we fished hard and laughed a lot.

Until today, Bret was a spinner guy, but it seemed like he fell in love with the art, and it is an art of understanding how to rig up and fish a hole with a red worm, split shot and a very small hook.

These boys are go-for-it kids, that is for sure, but they also know how to throw a spinner or a crawler in a tree, and that was a steady joke for all of us. Sometimes, the fish were hungry and other times, we could not buy a bite.

At Otter Creek, I caught a 15.75-inch brown, which would take that bet and on the Buffalo River, Bret found a honey hole that had a bunch of 11 to 13-inch brookies. We had a blast at that spot and Bret won that category. In the middle of the afternoon, we went to camp for a short break and ate trout on the grill.

After dark, we sat outside and told stories, and I listened to these guys verbally abuse each other in a kid kind of way. In the fall, Bret, who is the son of Jeanie and Barry Kostka, will attend UW-Eau Claire and major in business. Reece will join the family business, Country Septics and Trees on Wheels!

For 10 years, I hung out with these kids one weekend a year, and my guess is, now we will continue to share outdoor experiences on an expanded horizon.

If I said it once, I said it 100 times; take kids on outdoor experiences and you will have friends for life! Sunset

Saturday, May 2 • High 64, Low 33

Bret Kostka and Reece Frase at deer camp.