By Jeremy Jones
Unified Newspaper Group
It's not always easy pursuing the wily brook or rainbow trout in local streams and creeks. Century Trout Farm, located two miles south of Oregon at 882 U.S. Hwy 14, offers an easier alternative.
It features a 3/4 acre pond on a farm that has been family-owned for almost 200 years. The pond was once a hot lot with a shallow pond until 1960 when the USDA's Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation office transformed it into a pond 13 feet deep. Mark and Jean Hanson have operated the farm since 1991.
Cold spring water runs through the pond and in the early 1960s, Ralph W. Sholts, Jean's father, decided to stock it with trout.
"The fish started to get bigger and bigger, so he decided to put a little sign up the road," Jean said.
Sholts farmed for over 60 years. Due to bad knees, which had been replaced twice at Rochester's May Clinic, he later used a golf cart to get around while people fished. Sholts served on the Oregon School board for 12 years. Many people came as much to visit her father as to fish, Jean said.
Jean moved back to the farm in 1968 from Neenah and taught business classes in the Madison school district.
When Sholts passed away in 1984, the pond was fished down to its last trout.
"I'd walk around and throw fish feed and that guy would follow me all around," Jean said.
"Just like a dog," Mark added.
A trout pond proved to be more than an avocation for Jean and Mark Hanson.
Jean and her brother later bought the farm from their mother. Jean married in 1989 and re-opened the family trout farm two years later. After the pond was restocked, a child caught the surviving fish, a 24 inch rainbow trout, the biggest fish ever taken from the pond.
Jean's brother, Bud Shots, who retired from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, was instrumental in forming the Wisconsin Aquaculture Association. He bought the rest of the farm.
Jean retied in 1999 after having taught at Madison La Follette High School for 31 years ľan then learned she had breast cancer.
Mark, who also had taught at La Follette (English and journalism), also retired as manger of the Madison Metropolitan School District's cable video department.
Jean did not let chemotherapy slow her down.