Today I ventured to one of my most prolific big trout producing streams. It was my first trip to that stream this year. Due to the weather and starting a new job, I've fished very little this year.
I parked my car, assembled my gear and walked downstream. Since I expected company on the stream on a Sunday, I didn't walk down as far as I normally would. About ten minutes into the day, I cast my spinner next to heavy cover along the bank. Wham! A big trout smashed my spinner and the fight was on. It took a little less than five minutes to land the hefty trout. The fat trout measured 19 1/4 inches.
"A fine start", I thought. Unfortunately, the action slowed to a crawl, not unusual on this stream. I caught only one trout the rest of the hour, a 9 inch brown. I had a long period of inactivity before connecting with another nice trout. I knew when I was bringing it in, it was not hog worthy. At 15 1/2 inches, it was close, but still a nice trout. I lost a couple of small trout before landing an 11 inch stocked brookie, which migrated from one of the mainstem's stocked tribs.
As I approached a favorite big pool, I noticed movement along the bank. Three fly fishermen walked past and then waded in, not 30 yards in front of me. I waded out and was tempted to wade in right in front of them, but two wrongs don't make a right, so I walked well upstream until they were out of sight before I reentered the stream. Unfortunately, I had only a couple of follows before two fly fishermen in a small raft came down the stream. Once more I waded out and walked upstream. I was tempted to go to my car and drive well downstream, but decided instead to hit an area that the boaters had drifted through maybe 45 minutes before. I knew it was a risk but decided it was worth it.
I caught a 13 inch brown in short order but no other trout found my spinner inviting, so I switched to large Lucky Craft plug. Sometimes the irregular action drives the trout crazy, other times you would think it was a fish repeller.
A large trout followed but didn't hit. I moved up and had follows and a small hit from another trout. As my lure passed between two large rocks I felt extra weight and set the hook. The trout rocketed downstream and cleared the water. Twice I brought the large trout to the net and twice it bolted away. Finally, I netted him and took a quick self timed picture. (I usually remove my sunglasses for pictures, but it was raining.) The big brown was 21 1/2 inches, my first 20 incher fo the year.
I moved upstream a short distance and made a cast. As I began the retrieve, a large wake trailed the plug, which is a thrilling thing to see. The brute intercepted the plug and I set the hook. The beauty cleared the water twice before finding refuge in my net. I thought maybe I had landed my second 20 incher of the day, but he measured 19 3/4 inches, just short!
After a period of inactivity, I landed my second 19 1/4 inch brown.
A short time later, a 12 inch brookie pounced on my lure. Two more trout, one of them large, followed without hitting.
I had a lull in the action, which was broken by another large trout. A yellow streak zoomed in and piled into my plug. I set the hook and it seemed like the trout tried to splash all the water out of the stream. After a thrilling fight, I netted this 20 1/2 inch beauty with a broom tail.
I moved up into a split channel and caught a 14 inch brown, then another big brown darted in and struck. That one was a very nice fish, but at 16 1/2 inches, it seemed small in comparison to some of the fish I had caught.
At the top of the split, I landed a 13 1/2 inch brown. Two big trout followed without hitting. I had a hard hit and set the hook. I battled the big trout for a few minutes before he gained his freedom. I saw two more anglers upstream from me so I knew I couldn't continue fishing much further. I made a long cast right against the bank where there is a drop off, perfect ambush territory for a big trout. As I retrieved the plug, I saw no movement, but suddenly the plug stopped and I set the hook. The behemouth shot to the surface and I was stunned at the weight of the fish. All the big trout I caught were fat, healthy fish, but this one was in a league of its own. After a lengthy fight, I snapped a couple of pictures and measured the brown. The tape stretched to 23 1/2 inches. It's the biggest trout I've caught in that stream in 12 years.
I walked back to my car, got a quick bite and drove to another part of the stream. I could see that it had been fished, but I waded across to the far bank. I had three big trout follow in that section but none hit. I lost a small trout and landed a smallmouth bass that was around 12 inches. I was really tired from wading in the heavy current so I called it a day.
For the day, I only caught 14 trout; 12 browns and 2 brooks, plus the bass. Half of my trout were over 16 inches, three were over 20 inches and a fourth barely missed. I lost one big trout and lost one that I think may have been over 16 inches, but I can't be sure.
I'm glad I went back in where I did and glad I switched to a plug. Maybe I should have switched sooner.