I haven't been able to fish much this year for several reasons. The weather until recently hasn't cooperated, water conditions were very high, and I had family emergencies to attend to as well.
We were dismissed early from work on a Friday, so I decided to fish for a few hours on a familiar limestone influenced stream.
After wading in, I flipped my first cast next to an undercut bank. A large wake trailed my spinner but I felt no hit. On the next cast, a big trout drilled my spinner. I set the hook and the trout burned line off my reel. It zoomed downstream but the trout soon tired and I led it to my feet. I was surprised to see that I had caught a rainbow. The stream is a class A wild brown trout stream, but some local people sometimes stock a few fish, though they aren't supposed to. The trout measured 19 inches, so I was off to a fast start. The action slowed way down, and I only caught 5 more trout that hour. The trout were wild browns from 7 to 13 1/2 inches.
Hour two produced 8 trout, browns between 5 1/2 and 12 inches. I had several trout throw the hook, most of them after clearing the water.
I knew I only had a little over an hour of daylight left, so I fished as quickly as I could. The action was better, and I picked up 12 more browns. I lost quite a few trout as well. My biggest brown of the day, a nice 14 1/2 incher, came to hand in the last hour.
I landed 26 trout in the three hours I fished, 25 browns and 1 rainbow. I lost 12 more trout. All trout hit spinners.
This past Sunday, I went to a familiar scenic freestone stream. The stream has a good population of wild browns, and an impressive number of big trout.
I parked my car, assembled my gear and made the long walk in. I had several follows before a trout struck. I set the hook and the colorful brown cartwheeled out of the water and threw the hook in the air, a scenario that repeated itself many times over the course of the day. A few minutes later I landed my first trout of the day, an 11 1/4 inch brown. I lost a couple of trout before landing an 11 incher. I had a troutless gap of about 20 minutes before landing browns of 9 and 9 1/2 inches.
After missing a couple of small trout, I cast into a likely looking stretch of pocket water. As the spinner approached a large rock, a big brown dashed out and smashed my spinner. This one took to the air, but the hooks held. The brown measured 17 1/2 inches and was my first big trout of the day.
About ten minutes later, another nice trout intercepted my spinner and I thought at first I had hog #2 on the line, but as I brought it to the net, I could see it was going to come up short. 15 1/2 inches, short of hog status, but a fine fish.
After that, the action slowed again before I caught a succession of small trout between 8 and 9 inches before a 14 1/2 incher came to hand.
A short time later, a trout pummeled my spinner and rocketed around like it was on fire. Again, I thought it had hog potential. As I pulled my measuring tape, I knew it was going to be close............ 1/16 inch short of the 16 inch mark. To be considered a big trout, it has to be at least 16 inches, and it wasn't.
About five minutes later I hooked a big trout. There was no doubt in my mind about this one, but I don't know exactly how large he was, because after clearing the water, a mighty head shake sent the spinner flying in my direction. I lost another trout before catching six trout from the junior division. The small trout brigade was broken by my second 15 1/2 inch brown of the day.
The next hour yielded 7 browns, plus three leap and be free trout. The trout were in order, 7, 7 3/4, 13 3/4, 10 1/2, 12, 15 1/2, and 11 inches.
I began the next hour by taking the water temperature to see if it had changed much from the 63 degree reading I took at the start of the day. It actually had dropped one degree. The first trout of the next hour chased my spinner all the way back to me before hitting. I was surprised I landed it on a short line. It was a nice 13 incher. My next three trout were small; browns of 8, 6, and 7 inches. Two more trout hit and threw my spinner before a 10 incher came in.
I cast into very fast water and a heavy trout immediately pounced. I set the hook and proceeded to battle both a sizable trout and the current. I fully expected to lose the trout, but was happily surprised. At 15 inches, it became near hog #5.
After that, the action slowed and I wondered whether someone had recently fished the same water. I managed to land seven more trout, highlighted by a top water-dancing 15 3/4 inch brown.
My mosquito repellent had worn off and I was getting eaten alive. Since the white nose virus has been wiping out the bats, the mosquitoes have really been out in force. Hopefully the bats will rebound. The action had slowed to nothing, so I beat feet back to my car to escape the biting mob and head to another spot.
I took a little break and ate the sandwiches I had brought before going to a different stretch of the same stream.
I parked my car and walked downstream before wading in.
The fishing in that stretch, like the beginning of the day, began with a lost trout. I had two trout follow and not hit before I caught an 11 incher and a 6 incher. I came to a very good looking spot and figured it had to hold a good fish. It did; a 15 1/4 incher came to the net.
Two casts later, I landed a 14 3/4 inch brown. After landing a small trout, I arrived at a deep pocket under tree roots. My cast landed right where I wanted it and a nice trout took the spinner on the drop. The big brown tried to burrow under the roots, but I steered him out and into my net. He measured 17 inches and was my long awaited second big trout of the day.
Three casts later, another good sized trout grabbed my spinner. Yet another 15 incher was added to my tally.
The fishing slowed to a crawl and I struggled to land five more trout, browns ranging from 6 1/2 to 13 inches. I had daylight remaining but decided I'd had enough and made the long walk back to my car.
For the day, I landed 51 wild browns and lost a staggering 16 more. Even though it wasn't February, it must have been leap day on that stream. I caught every trout on spinners. I tried two different plugs briefly without so much as a sniff from a trout. Two of my trout qualified as hogs at 17 1/2 and 17 inches. Seven were between 15 and 16 inches. It was a long day and my legs ached, but it was a very satisfying day on a beautiful stream.