After over a month without going trout fishing, I was anxious to hit the streams. On Wednesday, I went to a very popular limestone stream, even though the conditions weren’t great. The water temperature was 41 when I started.
I had a trout follow my spinner within the first few minutes of starting. Unfortunately, it was the only interest a trout showed in a spinner the first half hour I fished. I switched to a #5 Countdown Rapala to see if that would draw any interest. I had four trout follow, two of which short struck and got off before I landed my first trout, a nice 15 ¼ inch wild brown. That was my only trout of the hour.
Trout continued to follow, and I had more short strikes. It’s difficult to land them when they do that. I landed a 12 ¾ inch brown followed by a 12 ¼ incher on the next cast. Several more trout followed the plug in and darted away when they saw me. After a period of inactivity, I saw a hefty brown following my plug. I crouched low to the water and the brown piled into my lure just a few feet from me. I thought maybe it might be my first big trout of 2018, but it measured 15 ¾ inches. The brown had a beautiful adipose fin. I took a picture of the trout and included a closeup of the colorful fin.
I had two trout hit and throw the hook before I brought in a 10 ½ inch brown. Further upstream, another nice trout rolled out from under a log and drilled my plug. The tape showed 14 ¾ inches. I had more follows and short strikes after that.
A feisty 12 incher was added to the tally. I had a gap of about 20 minutes before connecting with another near-miss big trout of 15 ¾ inches. My next trout was 11 ½ inches. Several followed without hitting. As I retrieved the plug past a large rock, I saw a nice trout in hot pursuit, but I feared another one turning away at the last minute. I quickly crouched to water level and the brown struck. I set the hook and the brown cleared the water six times, which is unusual for cold water conditions. As I knelt to measure him, I knew it was going to be close…… 15 7/8! 1/8 inch short of my first big trout of the year.
The rest of that section produced only one follow, so I walked back to my car. I drove to a favorite section and caught a 14 ½ incher and a 11 ¾ incher, along with the requisite followers. The last 45 minutes produced only one hit, so I drove to a tributary stream but didn’t like the way it looked, so I went to a small limestoner in the area.
I tied on a spinner and made my first cast. A nice trout piled into it and immediately got off. A few minutes later I caught a 12 inch wild brown. Unfortunately, I only a had a few other hits before the action died.
I ended the day with only 14 wild browns, a low number for the time I fished and the number of follows I had. All the trout except one hit plugs. The average size was excellent. Four of the trout were between 15 and 16 inches and three others were between 14 and 15 inches.
When I woke up Thursday morning, I was very stiff and sore. My body was not used to standing for hours on end and all the walking I did. I seriously considered staying home, but I wanted to try a large limestoner with the rainy forecast, figuring that would keep most of the anglers away. I had no intention of fishing that stream on Friday. I fished it last year on Good Friday and it was very crowded.
I went to a familiar section and made the long walk in. I tied on a spinner and a heavy brown followed and short struck a few minutes after starting. “Here we go again”, I thought. I had a couple of short strikes and a long period of inactivity. Finally, I landed my first trout, a nice 13 inch brown. A short time later, another 13 incher was added to my tally.
After a two more trout followed, I dropped a cast next to the bank and I saw a dark shape tracking my spinner. I got ready to crouch and saw the trout’s mouth open. He closed his mouth on my spinner and I set the hook. The heavy trout burned line off my reel and got into heavy current. I managed to extricate him from the swift flow and brought him to my feet. 16 ½ inches, my first big trout of 2018.
My next trout was a 12 incher, but I had little action after that, so I switched to a plug. Shortly after switching, a colorful trout smashed the plug. At first, I thought I had another big trout, but as I brought him closer I could tell it was going to be short. Still, a 15 ½ inch wild brown is a very nice trout.
Since I caught a trout quickly on the plug, I thought I might have found the answer. I was wrong. I had no interest in the next 15 minutes, so I went back to the spinner. I felt a little extra weight, set the hook, and landed a 13 ¼ incher. A few minutes later, I dropped my spinner right against the bank and it was grabbed immediately. The brown zipped upstream and cleared the water twice before I scooped him up with my net. At 15 ¾ inches, it was another entry in the near miss sweepstakes.
Trout of 11 1/2 and 13 inches began the next hour. I saw a prime spot for a big trout, and sure enough, one came out. It short struck, and I missed him. It was a definite hog; I had a feeling that was going to be a costly miss.
A little further upstream, I flipped my spinner under an overhanging tree and was rewarded with a solid strike. The rod throbbed as the hefty trout fought. As I netted the brown, I knew there was no doubt about that one. At 17 ¼ inches, it was my second big trout of the day.
There was a lull in the activity which was broken by a 10 ½ incher. A few minutes later, I felt a subtle tap and set the hook. Big trout number three measured 16 ¼ inches. Ahead was a deep run below a deep pool that had been very good to me in the past, but I had no action at all. The same for a pool above it. I began to think that someone was in front of me. As I moved upstream, I saw that was the case, so I got out and walked upstream a long way before wading back in.
I fished through more productive water with no action and wondered if that section had been fished as well. I thought about walking upstream further but made another cast. A 13 ½ inch brown validated the decision. On the very next cast, I saw a large brown trailing my spinner. It accelerated, closed its jaws, and turned. I set the hook, and the big brown tried to dive under a large rock. My 6 ½ ML action rod did its work, and soon the beauty lay in my net. At 17 ¾ inches, it was the largest trout of the day to that point.
Two trout hit and threw the hook before I landed a 12 incher. I had another lull before catching browns of 14, 15 ¼, and 10 ½ inches. I saw a fisherman cross the stream ahead of me, so I knew I was going to have to get out soon. A 13 ¼ inch brown was added to the tally before I waded out.
I returned to my car and ate the sandwiches I had packed and rested a little before returning to the stream. The last 1 ½ hours was very slow and I only caught three trout; two 9 ½ inchers and a 10 incher.
As was the case the day before, the average size of the trout was exceptional. I caught four big trout, with the largest being 17 ¾ inches. I had hoped to get another to record a rare five hog day but was satisfied with four. Three trout were between 15 and 16 inches. My total for the day was 22 wild browns. Unlike the previous day, all hit spinners except one.
I nearly hit a deer on the way home again. That’s twice already this year and I've only fished four times.