One that didn’t get Away
April 3rd, 2011
Every fisherman has a story about the one that got away. Even if they caught a couple of lunkers on a said trip, there’s usually one that got away. The one that got away is always bigger, longer or weightier. One way or another that’s the one that gets away. Whether it is was bigger or not, we like to say it was. Maybe it’s because we tell these stories to show we are vulnerable. Even if we don’t share these ‘one’s that got away’ with others, we can admit to ourselves we had the biggest on at one time. We can dream about them over and over again and picture in our minds how big we think it was. How awesome the fight was at the time. It gives us the reason to go back and try to catch him again.
On the other hand when we catch a big one, we always seem to add a few inches or pounds when telling the story. If we think he was 22” we’ll say he was 24". If he was fat we’ll describe his fatness in unbelievable proportions.
Here’s my story of the one that didn’t get away. The fattest brown trout I ever caught compared to its length. I have proof, someone seen me catch him, Honest!!
I was on the water by 8:30am. The morning was cold but not finger biting cold. April it was, early April when trout sometimes are rising to small Blue Wing Olives or Stoneflies. The morning was overcast but bright with forecasted rain to come later in the evening. When I got out of the van I could almost feel the moisture in the air upon my beard. The light breeze brought with it a wake up call of chillingness that woke up the skin and sleepiness if there were any in ones eyes. It was cold enough to not make you sleepy might be the best way to put it.
That morning I decided to take out my 5 piece 8’ 6” Stream Rod rated as a 4/5 weight. A custom made fly rod I bought from the Kettle Creek fly shop. I haven’t fished with it for awhile and wanted to get the feel for it again. I wanted to fish it with a 4wt. weight forward line to see how it handles in open waters. I attached my Double-L reel and headed out to fish Oil Creek.
I had already been out for almost a couple of hours without a single hit. I was up at the bend by now swinging and drifting a triple threat when Troutslammer showed up along the bank. He wasn’t sure if he could get out or not but if so he was to meet me along the waters. As he approached a fish grabbed my triple from beneath. I held tight and played the fighting rainbow in the swift current. He gave up a good fight in the chilling water but I played him near. Seeing he was too frisky and long for my small net, I brought him along shore. After releasing the fish Jim asked if I still wanted to go to a previous planned creek I have never fished before. There I was, I had the complete creek section to myself, not another soul around me. I had just caught a big rainbow after being skunked for the past hour or two. Maybe things were going to pick up, maybe not. What to do? Simple enough!
“Let’s go” I said, “I can always return later!”
It seems I’m always on the wrong side of the creek when it comes to finding the deeper holes to fish. Maybe I was just giving Jim the best opportunity to give him a more reasonable amount of space for him to cast. The water was clear but with the overcast sky and tall tree canopy the water was not as clear to us looking into it as it might be to the fish looking out. I selected not to add any weight to my streamers, in the slow pool, and let them gently drop and drift with the slow current. Anyhow, I sidearm back-hand cast the triple threat into the deep pool towards the branchy bank and overhanging tree. The triple threat falls just shy of the branchy snags up against the bank. I watch as the fly line tip dips and slowly drifts, the rest of the floating line lays straight upon the water with a small section slightly kinked. I hold the rod straight out towards the far bank and see the kink in the line straighten as the line pulls forward. I quickly strip set the hook and lift the rod. The rod flexes immediately into the butt section and I know I got a dandy. Jim notices the quick flexing down of the rod also and watches the ensuing tug of war.
“Holy chit” he’s a bigg’n”
“I can see that, you got a……”
The trout pulls deep and I’m forced to give him some line. He darts away down to my right and I hold the rod steady as the shaft flexes towards the fishes motions. The line flutters with fighting tensionfrom the struggle beneath and I know I have to keep good tension on him being I have the barb pinched down. The weight of the fish in the slow deep pool and the fight starts to make my heart pound with excitement but I know I have to play it cool to keep from losing him. He starts to swim towards me as if he has a plan. I hold on tightly while taking in line and discover his intentions, this isn’t a dumb trout. There’s a sunken tree log, complete with broken branch stubs, a few yards out on my right. I try to lift the rod higher to maybe force him above it but he is too strong and heavy as my rod only flexes in a tighter arc. He sets himself up against the far side of the log. I’m worried my line will get caught up in the log stubs or log itself should he decide to scramble along it. With the rod high I start to wade closer to him as the water rises higher upon my hip waders. He jolts outward and I try to hold the rod steady as it shudders in my grip from his pulling head shakes. Now free from the log I let him swim out into more open water. He starts to surface and I slowly swing my rod upstream against his will. The beast is within my vision and I can now see the brown trout’s size and fat belly. Jim says something about the trout’s size also but I’m concentrating on not losing the fish. He tries to dive deep again and I try to prevent it but he wins out and I let line out. Again we struggle trying to get each other to make a mistake or tire. He turns towards me again and this time the rod force is able to force him above the log. I take in line while he sub-surfaces and water churns above him as he fights to get free. I pull my C&R net out and even Jim doubts the fish will be able to fit into it. With the rod high above me, shaking from the weighty trout, I struggle to force the fish in the net. He surfaces enough I get the net beneath him and slowly lower my rod. The big fish folds into the net and I scoop him up. I have the net cradled with both hands as I wade my way to shore. I gaze at the fish and am astonished by its huge belly. It feels good as I release him back into the pool knowing the big one didn’t get away this time.
As I continue to fish I feel short strikes and wimpy tugs at the triple threat but manage to take one more lengthy brown before changing tactics. I decide to slowly drift a brown bugger near the bottom like a worm. With smooth backhand casts I drop the bugger into the pool and let it drop to the bottom. Slowly I retrieve it, stopping now and than, to let it settle like a drowned night crawler. My tactic works time and again as I watch my fly line straighten while the trout picks it up from the bottom. I have to be quick with sharp line pulling hook sets. I miss now and than but when I do hook up another fight of man verses fish erupts and more than not I get the fish to hand.
Eventually trout start to rise as Jim and I both came to this creek with this intention. It doesn’t take long before I discover that the trout are taking emergers and not duns. I scoot the CDC BWO imitation along the surface and a trout takes the moving fly. When they quit that I put on a wet BWO and cast it out across the pool. I slowly retrieve it as I raise the rod tip and wham, a trout can’t resist the emerging fly. I catch a few on a BWO nymph until no more trout are interested in my offerings. I return with a bugger and pull out another before Jim has to leave for home. I fish my way to the path side bank before getting out of the water. I climb the bank and follow the trail, meeting Jim at the Jeep.
What a great feeling it is to fish a new stream and come out triumphant! Catching nice size brown trout on buggers, triple threats, emerger patterns and such. Oh, and bringing in the big one and not having to tell a story about ’the one that got away!’