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Afternoon spent fishing at Afton State Park proves to be an eyeopener

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Throughout this parks series my husband and I have tried to experience different activities at each of the parks we visited – hiking, picnicking, tennis and geocaching. 

One activity that we hadn’t yet tried, to my husband’s disappointment, was fishing. 

Seeing as this is my final park, I decided to give it a try. 

Now, typically I’m one of those women who is completely baffled by the appeal of fishing. 

Waiting around for a fish to bite for hours on hand? No thank you. 

But what the heck. Let’s give it a try. 

Now since we had already hit all of Woodbury’s parks that include fishing piers, and based on the fact that I don’t have a fishing license, we decided to venture outside of Woodbury’s borders to Afton State Park, which sits on the St. Croix River. 

I think Afton State Park is technically located in Denmark Township, but it has a Hastings address.  

Minnesota state parks allow fishing by all Minnesota residents with or without a license. 

Afton State Park features a lot to see and do including camping, swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing and, of course, fishing. 

An important thing to note about Afton State Park, and any Minnesota state park for that matter, is that all vehicles require a daily parking pass. 

Annual parking passes, that gain you access to all of Minnesota’s state parks, are also available. 

After parking the car, Brandon and I quickly looked at the map to find out way to the fishing dock and off we went. 

We were probably quite the sight walking down the trail what with three fishing rods, a fly fishing rod, tackle box, cooler and my camera. 

We were far from the only ones out at the park on a Sunday morning; there were groups of campers headed out after a weekend spent outdoors, people out with their dogs, families enjoying the swimming beach and a few picnickers. 

After walking a quarter-mile or so we reached our destination, the fishing dock. 

Since the dock isn’t a true fishing pier, the dock rocked and swayed as waves came into the shore, so we had quite the ride while we were fishing. 

Sunday was my first time fishing since I was probably 10 years old, so my husband had me practice casting a few times before officially starting to fish. 

In order to get the full fishing experience my husband forced me to bait my own hook. We had picked up both nightcrawlers and leeches. 

There was no way I was going to touch one of the leeches, but it was still gross. 

For my first cast we decided to use a bobber so that we could let it sit while casting with another rod. 

Brandon decided to spend the afternoon fly fishing. 

After a couple hours of not getting any bites, we decided to wander further into the park in search of another fishing spot. 

However, since it was afternoon, and the sun was already high in the sky, it was difficult to find a good shady place to fish, which is typically where the fish are, or so I’m told. 

We eventually went back to the dock for one last crack at it. 

This time, though, I decided to fish right off the dock. 

After a while I begin to get some pulls on my line only to discover that something was stealing my bait off of my hook. 

After switching to a smaller hook, I recast. 

I caught a fish! 

I couldn’t believe it. I actually caught a fish. 

Sadly it wasn’t too impressive of a fish, it was a bluegill sunfish, a good-sized sunnie, but a sunfish nonetheless. 

The fish immediately wiggled off my hook once we brought it in and began flopping around the dock. 

After picking it up, and snapping a quick photo, I threw it back in the river. 

We continue to fish for a little longer in hopes of catching something bigger, but alas my little sunfish was the only catch of day. 

My experience fishing at Afton State Park proved to be not quite as boring as I anticipated, so maybe I’ll stop teasing my husband about it. 

But then again, fishing is still just a lot of waiting around. 

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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