We don’t focus on catching on big male brown trout when working our way up a remote stretch of stream. Trout fishing is more than that even though the idea seems to pop up when a deep hole offers some hope. Catching a hook-jawed brown trout is a rare occurrence and should be. If it were easy there would be no magic. I took a friend /novice fisherman out fishing one time on the Pere Marquette and he caught a 21 inch male brown trout on his first trip and I thought: Oh oh.. this ruins it for him. It will be years before he catches another brown like this. That’s if he sticks with it. It would have been much better if he worked at it for a couple years so he could appreciate the event.
How magical is it? The lure stops and you realize there is some anchor heavy weight there and then the line starts moving and maybe you see the fish and maybe you don’t. You pray your line doesn’t break while computing the odds of moving whatever it is past the blowdowns and logs out to a clear patch of stream where you may be able to get the net under the fish and oops, did you did you remember the net? Things move quickly and the odds are not so great. There are a million ways to lose a good fish – even for those detail-oriented responsible anglers that oil their reels and change line often.
I was fishing the Sturgeon River up by Vanderbilt one time and the river was high and muddied up to where I could see about a foot into the water. I had been tossing big minnow baits, floaters, but knew if the trout were on the bottom they would have to be in pretty shallow water to glimpse the lure. So I put on a big spinner, a Mepps Black Fury which has yellow polka dots against a black blade. There was a fairly deep run off to my left and I cast above the run and wound the reel slowly so the spinner would go deep. The lure stopped. The pole did some slow bends and then I felt the fish rise toward the surface. The fish was coming up for a look.
It reminded me of a spotted leopard when it materialized into view. The colors were stunning and bright. My heart stopped and I knew that moment, that picture, would always be lodged in my random access memory. I can still see it.
Feral and I have caught a few monsters – and we are not alone in our group. Mike, Denny, Jake, and more recently, Natch, have had those magical days when the lure suddenly stops and they wondered how to get the lure off that darn sunken log. Then the logs starts moving. Two foot brown trout with hook jaws. If you have just taken up small stream trout fishing, streams the width of a two-lane blacktop and under, and have not caught a hook-jawed brown, your time will come. They’re in there.