Cold Stream Trout Tank & Fishing Simulator


Trout Pond, Fishing Simulator Delight Young Anglers

Dick Hanson loves to look along the edge of his trout tank and see a youngster who is having trouble holding his fishing rod the correct way. That’s a clear signal to Hanson that the boy or girl has never fished before and needs some instruction.

“My wife and I will get down on our hands and knees and give that kid some personal contact,” said Hanson, who will bring his trout tank to the four-day Omaha Boat, Sports and Travel show that opens January 9th, 2014 in the CenturyLink Center, Omaha. “We want to teach them how to fish.”

Hanson will bring another exhibition to the show that aids in teaching people how to fish. His Fishing Simulator at first glance appears to be something akin to fishing on a television monitor. But something exciting happens when that “fish” strikes.

“Some people are a little reluctant to fish with a TV set,” Hanson said. “But I like to get in front of them with a video camera and take a picture of their face as soon as that fish hits the line. Man, the eyes light up and a smile comes on their face. Then come the giggles.

“The first simulator was designed as a teaching device. A system tells you if you have too much tension on the line. The lower the number, the better fisherman you are. It teaches you to play the fish instead of jerking it out of the water. And it goes right back to what we want to do – teach people how to fish and make it fun.”

Hanson made a big change at his trout tank a few years ago. Successful anglers used to take home the trout that they caught. But Hanson finally established a catch-and-release policy.

“A lot of families were finding fish in the back seats of their cars a month later,” Hanson said. “We know that fish wound up in garbage cans. A light bulb suddenly came on. Catch and release is a common practice now. We do that with our game fish in the wild, so we started that with our fish and it really caught on.

“A lot of parents appreciate it. Of course, there are a few disappointed people because they can’t take the fish home. But we encourage the sportsmanship and the fun of fishing. If you need a fish, go to the fish market or go out to the wild and catch one.

“We want the youth to get the idea of keeping our rivers and lakes full of fish by catching and releasing them.”

It’s not that Hanson wants to keep the fish for himself. At the conclusion of most shows, Hanson donates the trout to local charities and people who will provide food to those in need.

“At the Kansas City show,” Hanson said, “we donate the fish to a church that has a food bank program. A bunch of people come and sit on the back dock, clean fish and have a big fish fry for the homeless people.”

Police, firemen and various civic groups gather for fish-cleaning sessions at the conclusion of shows in other cities, and the trout are used in pet projects and benefits.

Anglers young and old will try to catch a fish from among 300 to 400 rainbow trout that are swimming in the tank. The bait on each rod is a small, artificial fly.

Some parents try to tip the odds in favor of their youngsters by adding extra bait to the hook, Hanson said.

“We frown upon baiting a fish because it’s not fair,” he said. “If you’re real sneaky about it, we don’t say much. But when people start fishing with pieces of hotdogs or whatever, then pretty soon the tank is full of bait and the fish quit biting. We go with what’s on the line, which is a fly.”

Hanson buys his fish from a Wisconsin hatchery located south of the Twin Cities. The hatchery delivers the fish to each show.

“I don’t have to worry about hauling the fish anywhere,” Hanson said. “If the show is fairly close to the hatchery, he’ll come back, get the fish and put them back in his pond. But most shows are too far for him to come back. I can’t afford to have the truck come back that far to pick up the fish, so we donate them. It all works out and everybody has fun.”

Hanson does everything he can to make sure the fish are eager to chomp on the flies that are offered by young anglers.

“Those fish are hungry,” he said. “They aren’t fed for about 10 days before they’re hauled in. So they will bite.

“But I also change the water every morning. I keep the water temperature down to 55 degrees. If it gets up to 60 degrees, the fish start to get a little doggy and won’t bite as readily. Putting in fresh water every day activates the fish.”