On Thursday I took advantage of cooler weather to go to an extremely popular limestone stream. When I arrived, the stream looked high and I thought about heading to a nearby tributary. I decided to give it a try, but was not optimistic.
I waded into the swift flow and carefully crossed the stream and began casting quartering upstream. On my fourth cast, my spinner was intercepted by a nice wild brown trout. My first trout of the day measured 12.25 inches. A few casts later I was pulling my spinner in front of a stream side bush when a large brown attacked. I brought him to my feet and he measured 18.5 inches. Unfortunately, while getting my camera out, he slipped off the hook and swam away. I usually don't use a net when fishing small to medium size streams but on this day, I brought one with me. I'd forgotten that I had it until the trout was gone. Three more browns of 9.5 to 12.5 inches were landed in my first angling hour.
Hour number two opened with a 7.5 incher, followed by a nice brown that I knew was not big enough for hog status, but felt would qualify for near-hog status, which I classify as between 15 and 16 inches. He measured 14.75 inches, just short. After releasing that trout, I went on a trout losing spree. Four trout in a row slipped the hook, two leapers and two while trying to pull them across heavy current. Finally, I landed a 9 incher and an 11 incher. I had a gap of about 20 minutes with no activity which was halted with a beautiful 16 inch brown.
Hour #3 was my third straight five trout hour. I lost several trout, due to the heavy current. The trout I landed were between 9 and 12 inches.
I continued upstream and landed five more trout in the next 45 minutes before walking back to my car. The trout I landed in that time were all wild browns and measured, 10, 10.5, 12.5, 13, and 12.75 inches. I drove a short distance upstream and pulled into a parking area, but decided to go further upstream to see if any other vehicles were there. I was happy to see the parking area was empty, so I parked my car and started to walk down to the stream. I took a detour and walked up a small tributary. On my first cast, my spinner was absolutely pounded by a hungry 9.5 inch brown. I caught two more wild browns of 7.5 and 11 inches and lost two others. After a half hour on the tributary, I returned to the mainstem.
My third cast produced an 11.5 inch brown. I had several trout follow my spinner in and strike right at the end of the retrieve. Several got off before a 12 incher held. I landed four trout between 10.5 and 12 inches before I spotted a nice pocket and dropped my spinner in. A large brown took the lure on the drop. I set the hook and the trout rocketed downstream in the heavy current. I thought I had zero chance of landing the trout. Not only did I have to contend with the heavy current, but I had to step over several logs and negotiate my way through some heavy brush along the bank. Amazingly, the hook held, and I slipped my net under the beautiful trout. He measured 17.25 inches and was my third hog of the day.
As my next angling hour began, I realized that I had yet to catch a 15 inch trout that day. When fishing that stream, especially in high water conditions, I often land at least one in a day's fishing. I made a long cast next to a cut bank and a heavy trout drilled my spinner and cleared the water. As I brought him close, I thought I had a chance for my fourth big trout of the day, but he measured 15.75 inches. Just short of hog status, but my first 15 incher of the day. A few casts later, while retrieving my spinner near a drop-off, another heavy trout blasted my spinner. That trout was a nice 15 inch brown. Two casts later, another chunky brown struck. He made several determined runs toward an in-stream log, but I was able to maneuver him away from that and into my net. The tape stretched to 15.5 inches. I went from no 15 inchers to three of them in a 20 minute period. As you can see below, one of them had a large, broom-like tail.
The nice sized trout continued to hit. I caught browns of 14, 12.5, 14.75, and 12.5 inches, respectively, to round out that angling hour. Three more hit but separated themselves from my spinner.
I had seen a car upstream of where I was earlier in the day and figured the area I had reached had been fished, so I returned to my car and drove back to the parking area I was going to fish on my second stop. I walked toward the stream and stopped to fish a split. As I pulled my spinner past an undercut, a fat brown piled into my spinner. After netting him, the measuring tape showed him to be 14.75 inches, a popular size on this day. My next two trout gained their freedom before landing, courtesy of the heavy current. As the light started to fade, I began to fish at a faster pace. Four trout came to hand in the next 20 minutes, browns between 10 and 14 inches.
A heavy trout took my spinner and my pulse quickened as I knew it was definitely over 16 inches. However, my excitement was premature as I felt a slack line after a short fight. A smaller trout hit a few casts later and it came as a mild surprise that it was a 9 inch wild brookie. That stream is mostly browns but it does have a few native brookies and the tributary I had fished is predominantly populated by brook trout, even though I had caught all browns in the brief time I fished it. My next cast produced another brook trout; that one measured 10.5 inches.
As I moved up to another split in the creek, I had two trout hit and escape via leaping trout airlines. Before walking out, I landed browns of 13.5 and 13 inches.
Overall, I caught 44 trout, all on spinners. 42 were wild browns and 2 were native brookies. Three were big trout and I lost a fourth. I landed three trout between 15 and 16 inches as well as several 14 inchers. I believe the higher flow and my use of a larger spinner were the primary reasons that my average size was so good. In all, I was very satisfied with the day, especially since I was seriously thinking of not fishing the stream at all when I first saw it. I'm m glad I stayed.
The next day a friend and former work colleague and I traveled to a large freestone stream known for producing large brown trout. Tim had never fished the stream before and I cautioned him that although the stream had lots of trout and a good number of big ones, it is extremely fickle. I have been there several times when the conditions appeared to be perfect and the fishing was terrible.
We dropped his truck upstream and drove my car down to our starting point. The first half hour produced no action before I caught a 10 inch wild brown. About ten minutes later, another 10 incher came to hand. In a large pool where I often catch or at least see a big brown, I saw a big brown following my spinner. He came all the way in before he bolted. Two casts later, he followed again, but didn't hit. I caught a 10.5 inch brown in the head of the pool.
Tim hadn't caught anything in the first hour but got on the board with an 11 inch brown. He caught two more browns in that hour; 10 and 12 inches, respectively. It was my turn to have a zero trout hour. I considered leaving for another stretch but a follow from a big brown inspired us to keep going. We fished up a long way and only caught a few trout each. We were ready to leave again when I got another tease from a big brown. He followed my spinner all the way in. I crouched as low as I could to avoid being seen but he bolted when he came within a few feet of me. Tim saw two big browns in another channel before catching a nice 14 incher.
We finally decided to walk up to his truck and try another section. At that point, Tim had caught 8 trout and I had 9. The next spot yielded two trout each but were all under 11 inches. The wind had picked up and not the stream was full of leaves, so we headed to a mountain freestone stream about a half hour away.
We had descended a steep bank, but I had left my phone in my car and went back up to get it. As I started back down the bank, I heard a shout from Tim. He had caught a big brown on his second cast. I took out my measuring tape and it showed 17 inches. The irony of trout fishing is one of its most appealing qualities to me. We had fished for hours on a stream known for big trout, had enough follows from them to keep us there much longer than we should have been, and then on a little mountain stream, Tim gets a big brown within minutes of arrival.
We fished upstream and caught several more brown trout, but none were over 10.5 inches, though I had a brown in the 12-13 inch range clear the water and throw the hook.
On the day, we only caught 31 trout between us, all wild browns, and all on spinners. Tim caught 15 and I landed 16. My largest trout of the day was only 11.5 inches. Tim caught the only hog. I would have liked to have gotten a big trout, but was glad that Tim caught one.
The fishing was not good on the day, but we had fun and the scenery was spectacular.
Sunday High Water
On Sunday, I drove to a limestone stream that I enjoy fishing, but I don't fish it a lot because of the pressure it receives. The stream was high and slightly off color due to recent rain. I parked my car and walked downstream a long way until I came to a cable across the stream. I started there and immediately caught two wild browns on back to back casts. Unfortunately, that is all I caught in the first hour. I had several follows and a few short strikes, but no hookups.
In the next hour, I switched to a plug and had two trout hit and throw the hook. The same trout followed my plug on five straight casts without hitting. I didn't see what it was, but I knew it wasn't a brown. I suspected it was a stocked brook trout and was proven right on the next cast. It was a pretty 11 inch fish, one that appeared to have been in the stream for some time, due no doubt to being released several times.
As I approached a split in the creek, a large brown rolled in and grabbed my plug. I had difficulty landing him in the heavy current, but after a couple of minutes, I slipped my net under the nice 16.5 incher.
I caught only one more trout in the second hour, an 11.75 inch brown.
After briefly trying the right split, I moved over to the other channel, hooked and landed a chunky 14 inch brown. That was followed by 10 inch, 9.5 inch, and 12 inch browns. After that, I only had a couple of follows from small trout. I suspected another angler was ahead of me, though I did not see one. I climbed the bank and saw a truck parked there, so I returned to my car.
I drove well upstream, parked my car and walked downstream. I caught two small wild browns on spinners but as I fished, I got no further interest on spinners, so I switched back to a plug. Shortly after switching, the orange flash of a very large trout caught my attention. It followed my plug in but saw me and darted away. A few casts later, a brightly colored 10 inch rainbow came to hand, followed by two 11 inch browns.
A bright yellow flash alerted me that a big trout was on the trail of my plug. He struck, and I set the hook. The behemoth thrashed at the surface, then headed for a cut bank. On his next run, the plug popped loose. I was not surprised, as I had a feeling that he was not hooked well. That trout was in excess of 20 inches and would have been a day maker. As I moved upstream, I only had a few more follows and again I figured someone was either ahead of me or had fished there earlier. After another 15 minutes of no action, I headed back to the car. I fished a nearby tributary for about 15 minutes and caught one 8 inch wild brown before deciding to go to another stream that was not too far away.
There are several sections of this stream that I normally fish, and I decided to try one that I have done very well on in the past, but it has not been as good the last couple of years. As I moved upstream, the action was disappointing. I caught only five trout in the 1.5 hours I fished there. All were wild browns, ranging from 5 to 14.5 inches. As I reached the top of the stretch, the increasing darkness persuaded me to call it a day.
I caught 21 trout on the day; 19 browns, 1 brook, and 1 rainbow. 11 of the trout hit spinners and 10 hit plugs. The largest trout of the day was a 16.5 inch wild brown.
Big Trout Monday
The next day, I was extremely tired and got a late start. I was tempted to stay home, but I knew the weather for the next week is supposed to be very cold and that this would be my last chance to fish for a while.
I headed to the same stream I had fished with Tim on Friday. Since the stream was low, I drove to a lower section. My plan was to try that stream, but only fish it briefly if the action was lousy. We had stayed too long on that stream on Friday when the fishing was poor, I did not plan to make the same mistake.
The first 20 minutes produced no action. I was starting to think of where I could get out of the stream and head back to my car when a hard strike brought my attention to the task at hand. The heavy trout cleared the water twice, but the hooks held, and I slipped my net under the 17 inch beauty.
A smaller trout followed a few casts later, then a 14 incher hit and was landed. I landed two more trout in the remainder of the hour, browns of 12 and 13.25 inches.
As the next angling hour began, I was surprised at how many trout were following. Most were not hitting though, and the ones that did hit relieved themselves of the hook by going airborne. Finally, after losing several trout, I landed a 12.5 incher, followed by a 10 incher. I then had a period of about 20 minutes with only a couple of follows. I wondered if the action was going to shut off, but I was not ready to leave yet. As I retrieved my spinner through a nice riffle, a big trout smashed it. It cleared the water three times and I feared that he was going to throw the hook, but I managed to land the 18.25 inch brown.
Two more trout came to hand in the remainder of the hour, browns of 10.5 and 12 inches.
The next hour was like the previous ones, short periods with lots of follows, some hits, with catches mixed with lost trout. The hour produced browns of 12, 12.5, and 15 inches, as well as a 16.75 incher, my third hog of the day.
I had reached deep water that I could not wade through, so I climbed the bank and walked upstream to water I had never fished before. I slipped while descending the rocky bank and avoided what could have been a disastrous fall.
When I got back in the stream, I was greeted by a 12.5 inch brown. I stopped to take some pictures of the stream, which was absolutely beautiful in its fall colors.
The water ahead looked great and although I wanted to fish the other stream I had in mind, I also was eager to fish the new water. It's difficult for me to leave a stream when the big trout are hitting.
A big trout pounded my spinner and cleared the water once. He made several runs, but the fight ended in my net. The 18 incher made me start to think of the prospect of a five (or more) hog day.
Unfortunately, it started to rain heavily and though it didn't last very long, the rain, combined with heavy wind made the stream a floating mat of leaves. After fishing for another 10 minutes and getting leaves on every
cast, I decided to try the other stream.
I drove to the same mountain freestoner I had fished with Tim on Friday, but downstream of where he and I had fished it. I had wanted to fish a long section of it, but I simply did not have time. I walked in and began fishing. It took about ten minutes before I landed a trout. An 8.5 inch brown, followed by an 8 incher got me on the board there. I moved upstream and cast to a log in the creek. A trout struck hard and I saw it was a nice, heavy trout. He thrashed on the surface and the spinner came flying out. A follow up cast produced another hard strike, but the line broke when I set the hook.
The trout became more active. I landed ten more trout that hour, wild browns ranging from 7.5 to 14.25 inches. A large trout hit in the tail of the pool and I set the hook but was not confident in my hook-set. About 30 seconds later, my suspicion was proved correct as the spinner pulled free when the hog took to the air. Only a couple minutes later, another big trout hit and tossed the spinner on its first jump.
As I fished through the long pool, four smaller trout hit, cleared the water, and were free. I thought of an old Blue Oyster Cult song and wondered if the title should be changed to "Don't Fear the Leaper"[IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.huntingpa.com//forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif[/IMG] (some of you are probably not old enough to be familiar with that song).
I only had a short stretch of water to fish before I reached the walk out point. I landed browns of 13 and 12 inches before the action totally stopped. A cold front had arrived, and the temperature had dropped precipitously. It was time to head for home.
On the day, I caught 29 trout and lost at least 12-15 more. All the trout hit spinners. I landed four hogs and lost two others. I couldn't help but think that my late start cost me a chance at more big trout, or at least a chance to fish a longer section of the second stream. Still, there is no way I could be disappointed at the results of the day. Warm weather, big trout, and beautiful fall foliage, who could ask for more?