If you put in enough time, eventually you’re going to cross paths with a big fish. Yesterday was my turn.
I’m in the middle of working on a wet fly piece for American Angler, and I wanted to try to get some photos of trout-with-soft-hackle-in-mouth. Right off the the bat, I was into a good brown. Then things slowed a bit.
Conditions were perfect: 75 degrees, overcast, showers, water running at 400cfs and a cool 65 degrees. What the bugs lacked in numbers, they made up for in variety: small BWOs, light-colored caddis, midges, and a few stray Isonychia. The bird were working industriously overhead. I was fishing a team of a March Brown soft-hackle as the top dropper, a Drowned Ant soft-hackle in the middle, and a bead head Squirrel and Ginger on point.
Near the end of a mended swing, she hit the fly with untamed ferocity. I’ve encountered enough of these larger trout now that I can tell immediately there’s a big’un at the end of my wet fly leader. The surface erupts in swirling upheaval, and line is bulled from the reel. That’s the last glimpse I’ll have of the trout for a while. Bigger fish almost always go deep, and this one was no exception.
Now, I was faced with the predicament of where to land her. I was surrounded by treacherous pockets and swift currents. I had to manage both wade and battle — this was the kind of fish you really wouldn’t mind falling in for — but I finally made it to a calmer section to claim my prize. And here she is.
What a gorgeous creature. It would have been nice to get a full-length shot, but I was flying solo, and I wanted her swimming freely in the water ASAP. A quick measurement against my rod placed her at just over 20″. Clearly this trout could also be tallied in pounds.
This was the kind of fish that, after you release it, compels you to sit on a rock mid-stream and contemplate your fine fortune in the scheme of the universe. So I did. And I smiled.
I took a few more fish, including one of the larger wild brookies I’ve caught on the Farmington this year, then headed to another spot. Juvenile salmon city, but at the end of the run I saw a splashy rise in the shallows. One cast, a partial swing, and whack! An eight-inch wild brown took the Squirrel and Ginger. I took a few more pictures, then headed home for dinner.
Nice work (if you can get it).
The winning fly, a Hackled March Brown. It comes from an English book published in the 1930s. Makes a fine Isonychia imitation.