March 01, 2016

vivid memory




Snowy mornings in early March make my mind wander.  Typically it doesn't take long and my log books of years past are open and I am paging through long ago memories. This morning's snow rekindled  a long forgotten memory from over a dozen years ago.


I typically look for non-snowy memories and a large trout lost or landed.  It was April 12th 2002.  I was still guiding back then.  I had done a presentation at the Rock River Fly Fishing Club that winter and set up taking two anglers to a nice easy fish in Richland County.

It was a warm April day with a little too much sun my log book says.  The stream temperature was 56 degrees.  The trout didn't seem to mind.  The stretch I was taking the two on was really long and pastured.  There were two different land owners and I had secured permission already. It was a sunny forecast so I stressed to the anglers to wear drab colors so they didn’t stick out so much. 


The trout were not large this day but they were plentiful.  Sunlight makes big trout very wary and we were having fun.  Trout have no eye lids and the sun affects the bigger ones a little more dramatically than the little ones. When I guided I use to have the anglers take turns.  A hook up or a bite meant change of angler casting.

I recommended flies and cast placement.  They were having a ball on the fast current lane on the right of the picture.  When it is sunny trout either go deep or go to broken fast water or tuck themselves under a bank.  The broken fast water produced four decent sized trout.  A glory shot was taken to show the lay of the water and the typical trout from this run.

The other guy had his turn and missed a fish so the guy pictured was up to bat again.  He cast and cast into the fast water without any luck.  We were about to move upstream and I told him to cast to above the top of the fast water tight right where the current ran into the bank. I stress above the cut so there was no splash and the fly would come down the chute like food.   It looked like there was a nice undercut there.

His cast was long enough but a little too tight to the bank and he had an immediate snag.  He tried and tried to free his fly with no luck.  Finally I got out of the water and walked upstream and crawled up to the snag and tried to unhook it from shore.  I didn't want to spook the area but I couldn't reach the fly so I got in the water.

I bent over to unhook the fly and all of a sudden the water directly under my nose erupted. There just two feet below my nose was a giant brown trout blasting out of its hide in that small under cut.  It literally slammed into my hands as it darted out. This hiding giant was all of thirty inches long and its colors were amazing.  The dark brown spots were etched into the side of this bronze colored beast. 


 It swished its tail and towards my legs it went. The next thing I knew there was a pain in my right ankle. This monster had blasted into my ankle and was stunned for half a second and then got it wits about it and that huge tail torpedoed it between my legs.

The guy in the water watched as it motor boated past him in twelve inches of water with its back nearly out of the water.  The second guy on the bank followed it downstream for 100 yards.  He wanted to try casting to it when it calmed down.  I told him a big smart trout would not bite again soon but we both went downstream with him to watch him try. He eventually gave up when the monster disappeared.

We fished the stretch again two hours later with no takers.  I visited the stretch the minimum of twenty five times that year with no ankle slammers found.  I love memory lane on cold snowy days like these. Warm April and May days cannot come fast enough.

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