It's in the cards for spring...

"GO FISH!"

"It is one of the first indicators of spring, and we go through gallons of coffee with all the visiting," said Chatfield Fire Department firefighter Mike Pederson, anticipating the upcoming Trout Classic. This annual event is slated to be held Saturday, April 14, featuring a pancake breakfast, fishing contest along area streams, and plenty of coffee and conversation throughout the day. This gathering serves as a celebration of the annual state fishing opener.

"We hold the Trout Classic to promote the city, raise some funds for the fire department and have a fun day," Pederson stated.

The day begins with the pancake breakfast hitting the griddle at 6 a.m. and sizzling until 10 a.m., and the Chatfield Fire Department Women's Auxiliary hosting a silent auction with a variety of themed baskets for sale until 12:30 p.m.

Pederson shared that the auxiliary provides support to the fire department while the firefighters are out on long, grueling calls.

Additionally, the Chatfield Ambulance Service will offer blood pressure and glucose screening at the breakfast - however, he cautioned pancake breakfast diners to be certain to take advantage of the blood pressure and glucose screening before polishing off a short stack with syrup, or risk feeling fishy.

Another highlight of the day is that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) brings a display of live fish and provides maps for the anglers to use as they set out for their favorite fishing spots.

"We encourage families to go out to the streams - it's fishing all open areas of rivers and streams in southeast Minnesota," Pederson said.

The Trout Classic is broken up into three age categories - adults fishing for brown and rainbow trout; juniors, or kids 13 to 17 years of age, fishing for brown and rainbow trout, rough fish, carp and suckers; and kids 12 and under fishing for brown and rainbow trout and rough fish.

"It takes a fish three pounds or larger, but we have some nice prizes, and anybody can win with a little luck," Pederson added.

There's a cash prize for largest trout in the adults' category, a cash prize for the largest trout in the junior category, a fishing pole for the largest rough fish in the junior category, and a fishing pole for the largest trout and rough fish in the children's category.

"Our contest numbers have declined over the years and we hope kids can put their sporting activities aside for one day and go fishing," he added.

Pre-registration is at Magnum Sports before the contest, or at Magnum and the Chatfield fire hall the day of the contest.

Registration ends at 8 a.m., and after a day out on the streams, weigh-in will be held at the fire hall. Entry fees are $10 for adults 18 and over, $5 for anglers, 13 to 17, and $1 for children 12 and under.

"Fish can be weighed in anytime throughout the day, but the cutoff time is 1 p.m. sharp, no exceptions," Pederson stated.

The Trout Classic is a family event, and the firefighters enjoy seeing the kids bring in their big catch as well as waiting for the big fish to come in. Pederson also added that seeing the "regulars" who attend the Classic's breakfast and contest weigh-in is also a special aspect of the event.

"You don't have to fish to come and enjoy breakfast. I think it has become a yearly tradition for people to come to the fire hall for breakfast," Pederson concluded. "We make the best pancakes around and provide quality sausage. I think people just enjoy the atmosphere around, with all the contest excitement. We truly enjoy the day and thank people for supporting us."

The Chatfield fire hall is located at 318 S. Main St., Chatfield. For more information on the Trout Classic, contact Dean Irish at (507) 867-3924 or (507) 993-1523, or Mike Pederson at (507) 867-3923 or (507) 259-7067.