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It was 15 years ago. I remember it just like it happened yesterday. I was fishing in Wisconsin's early catch and release season. I was fishing a public stretch that seldom gets fished due to the vegetation. I almost always fish upstream. I saw a deep hole in front of me and started to get excited. The Spring floods had cut a deep swath through the normal channel. I guessed it at about 7-8 feet deep. There was a huge downed tree flanking the hole in the water.

It looked like XL brown trout water. I looked at the lay of the hole and decided where the biggest trout in the hole would lay..I cast just above the deep step drop and ran my presentation through the monster's lair. There was a medium sized swirl and no takers. I fired right back in there.

The resident of the hole freight trained my lure. It didn't feel huge so I was kinda nonchalant fighting it. Then I got a glimpse of red and white fins and they were huge. I eased up on the pressure and decided to battle this obvious huge brookie properly. I got it near the surface once and saw it was barely hooked. I slowed the fight to a crawl. I wanted to get a photo of this monster. I finally get it to shore after a long extended battle and glance at its gills and they are loaded with gill lice.


I hurried to unhook it so I can release it. It floundered and rolled on its side. I got that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. I asked myself if I battled this giant too long? Had its ability to breath properly been compromised by the parasites attached to its gills.

I tried for 45 minutes to revive it. I let it go finally thinking this giant small stream brookie is going to make it. A couple swishes of it tail and then it goes up on its side. I left it there because it is out in the middle of the deep pool because there was nothing more I do for it and it was C/R only season.

I went home wishing the best for the giant brookie I released. My curiosity got the best of me and I went back to the hole the next day. Its lifeless body laid in the center of the hole.

This football shaped brook trout was obviously a carnivore. It fought a valiant fight but the stress of the battle and gill lice were more than it could tolerate.

 

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A buddy and me were fishing for suckers one spring just a few days before trout season started in an unstocked stream. H caught the biggest, most beautiful brook trout I have ever seen. 18 1/2 inches. He almost had tears in his eyes knowing he couldn't keep it, and we had no cameras or phones with us. Amazing fish.
 
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