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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Settling the Score

Settling the Score

In 2016 my “Trout of the Year” was one that I didn’t even catch. On November 2nd of last year I was fishing a tiny stream above a reservoir specifically to see if there would be any large brown trout that had moved upstream to spawn. After fishing a couple of the larger pools without success, I continued upstream until I came to a long shallow pool where one would not expect a large trout.

Water entered the pool from a narrow riffle along a boulder on the right side. The water formed a wheelbarrow-size depression about two feet deep there while the remainder of the flat pool was about eight inches deep. My first cast flew errantly to the left side in the shallows. Immediately the surface of the water swelled as a large trout turned to follow and attack my White Bead Gold spinner, like a shark after a baitfish in the shallows.

When my spinner disappeared in the trout’s mouth I set the hook. The trout hardly budged, but its head came up out of the water as if in slow motion. I recall the large hook jaw and the bright yellow coloration of the trout. I guess I was already thinking about how to pose the beast for photos because when he turned and plowed back upstream I forgot to open the bail on my reel since there was no time to loosen the drag. My four-pound test Stren line stretched to the max, and then snapped, sounding almost like a .22 shot going off in the distance. My heart sank. I had just blown the opportunity on a trout of a lifetime.

I walked up to the deeper area of the pool to see the trout up close. He was sitting calmly on the bottom, perhaps knowing there was no place to hide. Gold jewelry hung from the corner of his hook jaw. I estimated him to be two feet or so long. I considered trying to hook the eye of the spinner dangling from his jaw with another spinner, but thought that might cross the line and be unethical. Not wanting to disturb him further I quickly moved upstream, knowing that I’d be back in the autumn of 2017 for round two.

The score: Frank 0, Trout 1

On Tuesday, July 18th, 2017, after spending 3.75 hours on a local freestoner and catching just 29 trout, which considering the stream conditions and barring any unforeseen circumstances pretty much sealed the conclusion of my string of 38 consecutive 100-trout outings, I decided to go back to the stream where I had tangled with the hawg brown the prior year. I had no thoughts of catching any large trout, figuring they’d be in the reservoir which is off limits to fishing and of no interest to me anyway. My hope was just to spend a few leisurely hours catching some small wild trout.

Despite the overall wet summer we’ve been experiencing, the little mountain stream was really low. The entire flow would likely have fit through a 6-inch pipe. The water temperature was 62-degrees and the air temperature was around 80-degrees. The sky was mostly clear. Bright sunshine broke through the tree canopy in spots which I did my best to avoid. Standing in the bright sun and casting into the deep shade is generally not productive. I began casting at 11:15 a.m.

Though the photo below is not the creek in question, it looks very similar.

DSC_1752 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

The stream is not stocked, so catching a stocked trout like this brookie was out of the question.

DSC_1529 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

There was no chance to catch a golden rainbow either.

DSC_1590 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

The stream holds mostly native brookies.

DSC_1578 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

It also has a few wild brown trout.

DSC_1789 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Despite the low water I began to pick up a trout here and there.

DSC_0398 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Around 1:45 p.m. I came to one of the larger pools on the stream, perhaps a half mile upstream from where I had tangled with the lunker in the previous autumn. Water plunged into the pool near the left side, creating and area of white bubbles. The submerged trunk of a tree claimed the left corner and most of the lower end of the pool.

I sent my first cast to the lower left corner between the tree trunk and the pool’s lip in case a trout would be holding there. I didn’t want to spook a trout up into the meat of the hole before approaching closer for a better cast. My next cast hit on the left side of the bubbles, a sweet spot for a big trout waiting on an unsuspecting little trout that was on the move. Instantly I saw the flash of a large trout and instinctively set the hook since I knew I would not feel a trout hit in the boiling water.

Right away I knew I had a huge trout on the end of my line.

DSC_1453 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Luckily, I had just retied my spinner to un-nicked line, something I often do when approaching a deep pool. Quickly I loosened my drag. As long as the hook held and I could keep him away from the tree trunk I felt confident that I could land him.

The trout burrowed to the bottom and later thrashed on the surface.

DSC_1461 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Since the water was deep from bank to bank there was no place to easily land the brute. Knowing my net was too small to bother with, after a couple minute battle I grabbed the trout in front of the tail and eased him over to the water’s edge.

DSC_1474 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

He was taller than most of the trout were long that I had caught in the previous couple of hours.

DSC_1478 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Before I even measured him I knew he was in the top ten of the largest trout I’ve ever caught out of over 275,000 trout. And from a tiny stream no less.

DSC_1465 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

He measured 24.5” in length against the grid of inch markers that I had put on my five-foot custom spinning rod.

DSC_1457 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

He was hooked in the same place as the large brown I had missed last November on this stream.

DSC_1460 (2) by Frank Nale, on Flickr

Could this have been the same trout that I had missed in November? Maybe the stream holds some monster trout that don’t migrate from the reservoir? I’ll never know but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the same trout.

Had this occurred on a larger stream, like this one,

DSC_1743 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

I would highly doubt that tangling with two big trout located far from one another would be the same fish. But on such a small stream I can’t imagine there being many big trout that size despite the nearby reservoir.

It also makes you wonder what this big trout eats since this small stream, like many of the little mountain streams in central Pennsylvania, isn’t particularly fertile. Here’s the kind of forage base that is available on the large stream shown above.

DSC_1741 by Frank Nale, on Flickr

I think the mink there have lots of food to eat and I’m sure the big trout find their share as well.

This big trout probably eats a lot of native brookies and wild brown trout, which could be one of the reasons why there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trout in the stream right now. I ended up catching 48 trout in 3.75 hours to close the day with 77 trout in 7.50 hours, thus ending my string of Century Club outings which had begun two months earlier.

This trout will almost for sure be my “Trout of the Year,” though it was one-half inch shorter than the 25” stocked rainbow that I fooled on Opening Day. I’ll take a large wild trout over a big stocked trout any day as would most wild trout enthusiasts. After snapping a few photos I released the trout. Hopefully we’ll meet again one day soon, perhaps this autumn when he is more colorful.

The score: Frank 1, Trout 1.

- Frank Nale -
bigguy54 and Trout Traveler like this.

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Last edited by FrankTroutAngler; 08-18-2017 at 04:59 PM.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 02:23 PM
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Congratulations on the "Trout of the Year".
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 03:15 PM
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What a hog, wonderful pictures and write up, thank you for sharing!!!

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 03:23 PM
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Pfffffft, great brown Frank!! wow! Even though you tactfully left any stream pics out I'm almost certain that I know the stream it came from as I used to do the same thing there 20 years ago with my college fishing buddy every late fall and winter. For the sake of assuming it's the same place there would be big fish there all winter long. I've never went back there in all these years and never really plan to so it doesn't matter much. The lower portion of the stream below the res was always a personal favorite of mine in my college for opening day as well as a few tribs. Not sure why to be honest as the fishing was never really all that phenomenal. I guess I liked the fact that it wasn't very crowded and that was back with the opener was always really crowded and popular. I spent a lot of time in that general area all around. Brings back good memories.


Back to that trout. I fish a few streams that get lake run fish and it's almost certain that this one decided to take up residence for whatever reason. One would think that stream could never grow a fish that big on it's own. pretty interesting how it decided to stay and looks thick and healthy. Certainly doesn't look to be starving at all! I didn't see the first fish but if I was a betting man I'd put my money on it being the same fish you lost in November which is even cooler. that is one incredibly thick heavy muscular fish right there! I wanna see what the next 'fish of the year' looks like should you happen to trump this one. It would certainly have to be something other-worldy.


Big congrats on that fish!!
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 03:47 PM
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 04:34 PM
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Wow! What a fish!!! Congratulations!! a 24 1/2 inch wild brown on a large stream is great, but on a tiny stream like that is truly amazing.

Seeing a fish like that in the fall, I would assume as you did that it's a migrant, but to get a trout like that in July, I believe it is a resident fish, or has become a resident fish. I think you're right; he feeds on other trout and crayfish. He has no doubt eaten some mice and possibly even a small water snake or ducklings. A trout like that is a predator. He eats whatever he can catch and swallow.

Last edited by Trout Traveler; 08-18-2017 at 04:46 PM.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 05:40 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trout Traveler View Post
Wow! What a fish!!! Congratulations!! a 24 1/2 inch wild brown on a large stream is great, but on a tiny stream like that is truly amazing.

Seeing a fish like that in the fall, I would assume as you did that it's a migrant, but to get a trout like that in July, I believe it is a resident fish, or has become a resident fish. I think you're right; he feeds on other trout and crayfish. He has no doubt eaten some mice and possibly even a small water snake or ducklings. A trout like that is a predator. He eats whatever he can catch and swallow.
I agree with you (and Trout 2003) that this trout probably grew up in the reservoir or spent most of his life there, but in recent times decided to live in the stream. My guess is that when the water is up he travels up and down the stream searching for easy meals, only to return to his lair when conditions demand it. Let's hope he continues to live in the stream though I realize the odds of catching him again are remote. Right now there is no point in going to the stream because it would be just a mere trickle. I'm just hoping conditions improve for the autumn! This gives me something to look forward to. Of course, another angler could have creeled him by now.

In warm rainy weather he probably goes up on the banks at night to eat nightcrawlers.

If I were a chipmunk I wouldn't want to get too close to the edge of that pool, and if I were a small bird I wouldn't want to be flying too low over the water.

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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 06:05 PM
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Agreed. Small rodents or frogs trying to cross in his territory are on borrowed time!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:02 PM
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WOW! Great story. I think I recall you writing about losing that fish last year??? You've given me a new idea for fall fishing.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-18-2017, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by troutdoorsman View Post
WOW! Great story. I think I recall you writing about losing that fish last year??? You've given me a new idea for fall fishing.
I wrote about this in the topic "Frank Nale's 2016 Trout Season Summary" in a section entitled "Trout of the Year." It's currently on page 8 here.

I can be contacted at [email protected].
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