This Saturday, April 14, marks the beginning of the trout fishing season in southeastern Minnesota.

That also means it's time for the Trout Classic Contest and Breakfast in Chatfield, with various events running through 1 p.m., the final weigh-in for the trout fishing contest.

"The fun part is seeing parents bringing their kids in with a fish to weigh," said Chatfield Fire Department firefighter Mike Pederson. "That's the highlight of it for me... seeing families out doing something different."

Pederson and his fellow firefighters are pleased to host what he believes to be the 26th annual Chatfield Fire Department Trout Classic Contest and Breakfast. Events include the fishing contest for trout fishermen and their little guppies, a pancake breakfast, a silent auction sponsored by the newly-formed Chatfield Fire Department Women's Auxiliary, a live trout display courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and free glucose screening for diabetes by the Chatfield Lions Club.

"I believe this is the 26th year, and the focus has always been the same since day one - getting families out fishing. That's still the focus today."

Also, it's a fundraiser for the fire department to upgrade its equipment. They're expecting a brand new fire truck to arrive in about a month.

Pederson said, "That's what the money's going for, but a lot of what we do is just seeing families out with kids, taking them fishing... it's getting to be a lost or forgotten family function."

Fishermen, women and kids are welcome to fish "anywhere in the state except a trout farm" for their prize-winning trout, then invited to return to the fire hall for weigh-in.

According to Pederson, there have been changes made to the competition's age categories this year. There used to be categories for 12 and under and over 12 years old. The new age divisions are 1) 12 and under; 2) a junior division for kids 13 to 17, and 3) for ages 18 and over.

The rules stand that anyone 18 and older must bring in a trout - anyone under 18 is allowed to catch a "rough fish," be it catfish or dogfish. It just has to have fins.

Prizes will be awarded. The contest begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m., when the final weigh-in is scheduled at the fire hall. The entry fee is $10 per adult, $5 for students 13 to 17 and $1 for children under 12, and pre-registration can be done at Magnum Sports in Chatfield.

A bright and early breakfast at the fire hall features all the pancakes one can possibly manage to eat, sausage, coffee and milk. Cost for the breakfast is $5 for adults and $2 for preschool children. Breakfast will be served from 6 to 10 a.m.

Pederson extended the opportunity to families to join the firefighters either at the end of a fishing rod or a fork.

"It's a day to get the family out together... the weather's anybody's guess, but people look forward to coming back. For some of them, it's their first outing of the year. You can always go fishing and get a good breakfast as a family."

For more information, call 507-867-3923.