This is my personal best, trout-wise. The fish measured
This is my personal best, trout-wise. The fish measured in at a jaw-dropping 27.5 inches, weighing over ten pounds.
After fishing for six hours straight and with just a bagel and Gatorade for breakfast, I was starving, parched, in desperately in need of a bathroom break, and with the sun beating down on me the whole time, I was about ready to call it quits around 1:30 last Sunday afternoon. That was when I noticed IT just lying there, opening and closing its maw on a regular basis. I could not believe my eyes at first: I thought it was a carp. So I contorted my body--without creating too much draastic movement--to get a better view of its tail. When I finally confirmed that the tail was not forked, my hands started shaking. I fumbled for what I thought would be the appropriate fly and tippet combination. I began my stealthy assault with a #18 bead-head hare's ear on a 6X fluorocarbon tippet. That combo worked---on the armada of "smaller" trout that would come out of nowehere to grab the fly. After landing several browns in the 18 to 22-inch category, and losing fly after fly along with my entire spool of 6X fluorocarbon, I was getting desperate. Worse, and my main quarry was starting to get fidgety. (Several times it swam away only to circle back to its original lie.) Then, two hours later, after desperation forced me to tie on my last remaining #20 midge on a 7X fluorocarbon tippet, I crouched in disbelief as I watched this giant trout imperceptively shake its head a couple of times right about when I guessed my red-and-green midge would be on top of it. (I never use indicators when the water is that clear) I slowly raised the rod tip while holding my breath expecting--yes, somehow I knew my patience paid off that instance--resistance. And there it was: the most exciting sensation a nymph fisherman could ever experience. Powerful thumping, followed by uncontrollable pulling. It felt so different from the rapid pulsing vibration cause by smaller trout's head-shaking.
I stood up from my crouch as fear started creeping into my mind. First, I had never landed anything close to its size on a 7X tippet with a breaking limit of less than three pounds. Second, I was using my back-up reel that has been causing me grief the whole day (I don't know if all Tioga's are supposed to sputter, screech and make grinding noises after a few years of service because mine certainly does all of those). Lastly, the pool where the fish decided to wait me out was dark enough to let me know that it was bristling with what bass fishermen would call "structure" and what we flyfisherfolk refer to as $%#*ng "snags."
Thankfully, I have years of flyfishing experience for steelhead and salmon in the Pacific Northwest to fall back onto for guidance. It came in handy as I chucked boulder-sized rocks into the pool to keep the fish moving whenever it decided to sulk in this darkened depth of light-line fishing hell. Changing the "angle of pull" whenever I could also helped tremendously as it kept the fish off-balanced.
Twenty-five minutes into this match between piscine instincts and human wishful thinking, I felt confident enough to ask a fellow flyfisher to net the fish. However, all of his good intentions and deft maneuvering could not magically supersize his net: the fish would not fit in the net! After three futile attempts, my new buddy and I came up with a novel plan: he'd scoop its head into the net while tailing it at the same time. It worked wonders...after six or seven tries.
As we dragged the fish ashore, both of us realized this was the biggest trout either one of us has seen in the wild. "Laughable" myths we've heard concerning ducklings being gulped by trout on this particular stretch of the stream suddenly were no longer just funny stories told by locals to cynical New York City weekend warriors.
The fish was over ten pounds, and, in the corner of its humungous jaw sat my valiant #20 red-and-green midge---right next to a six-inch Rapala with three treble hooks on it still trailing a foot of what appeared to be a 20-lb test monofilament.
Much high-fiving ensued, interspersed with handshakes, and joyful hollering. Pictures were taken and the fish was revived and released unharmed. My buddy took the Rapala with him, and I retired my midge. I am planning to incorporate it with the fiberglass replica of the brute that I am planning to mount on my wall soon.
Right next to the replica of a 24-lb wild steelhead buck I caught behind a prison near Seattle six years ago.