Heartland Drifting: A Minnesota Picaresque

Spring my ass. When I left Houston, it was 92 degrees. Landing in Minneapolis a hair after 10 p.m., it’s a lovely 36 degrees and raining. I throw my gear in the back of Hansi Johnson’s 4Runner and we head to the southeast corner of the state, stopping only at a gas station for the usual stash of waters, chips, trail mixes and protein bars. I’d crossed paths with Hansi a couple years ago while working on A Northern Light, a film made with my friend Tony Czech. We needed an extra raft and Hansi graciously loaned his, no questions asked. I knew of him from his famous ice-laden mountain bike photos in various outdoor magazines. He was the only phone call before I booked the ticket.

Each time I’d previously come through the lower section of Minnesota on the way to pick up canoes in Winona, I’d seen heaps of vibey trout streams from the road. I’d rubbernecked so hard I almost drove the truck into the woods a few times. After reading a few out-of-print books and studying maps, I realized there are more than 38 streams and over 700 miles of fishable water in this corner of the state alone. How had I not heard about this? Hansi grew up there and when I asked if he wanted to spend a week chasing fish together, he simply said, “When can you be here?”…

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