Updated: Jun 3
I have to learn the art of stealth for catching big Brown Trout.
I have been at this fishing hole for almost an hour and I have only made twenty casts or less. A brown was on for a few head shakes, came undone. Forty-five-degree casts up stream, pretty consistent and fast retrieve with a little twitch or two on occasion and that’s when it struck. Very similar to how they were eating the day prior.
Getting to that point was even a process. I snuck up slowly while I still had the shade before the sun rose up. As I approached, I watched for any activity. The day prior in that same hole, I saw the biggest brown rise to the surface. Moments before I was thinking, “What if a giant brown just jumped in front of me?” All the other animals seemed to be active or just waking up; deer, turkey, blue jays and the ducks. Just a little longer for the fish. Coming onto the spot I knelt down and made a few casts to test the waters in case they were in shallow; no action.
Change spots and angles. Really paying attention to my casts, location and retrieve. For a moment I get lost in my mind, boom the fish strikes. I pull tight only to have it shake thrice and come off. Now it is time to wait, let the spot settle. All night and morning I have been thinking about this fish, the biggest Pennsylvania Brown Trout of my life. Changed lures, no dice. Stick with your gut instinct and the lure you know works. Fall back further on the bank to keep your motion out of sight of the trout. Take a little snack break, let some time go by and enjoy the Sun rays. Just a few more minutes, the sun has come up over the mountains a good deal.
Creep up on the bank and get ready for the action to start! Move slowly, deliberately, intentionally; this is like hunting, in order to make contact with the biggest creatures, you must take great caution and offer much respect.
I was having self-doubt. I asked, “God please let me eat. Please let me catch a fish.” (The goal, even when practicing catch and release, is to harvest food because our ancestors lived that way and if needed, I could too.)
Water is up a few inches from yesterday. Warm temps causing snow melt.
Visibility is down a few inches from yesterday. Increased flow causes lower water clarity.
First fish, big Brown Trout!
The second the fish was on; I knew this was the biggest creature I have fought this week. Very similar to the one that came off earlier, this fish struck in a moment where I was in a daydream. This time though, I was not going to make a mistake. I deployed my net to have it ready. Taking my time but not too long either, it is a balancing act, being in too much of a hurry and the fish comes off, taking too long and the fish comes off. In this instance, everything went right. My heart racing; I finally netted this beautiful specimen.
This Brown ate the jerk bait completely. The fishing line was tangled and wrapped up its teeth, somehow the line did not weaken or give up. Now I am at a point which is always the most anxiety inducing, unhooking, photographing and safely releasing. It is an interesting act, maybe it is selfish. Fighting a fish, putting them through this traumatic experience, just to let them go and repeat. I believe showing respect to the fish is crucial, whether harvesting or releasing. While I am unhooking the fish, I try to work quickly and accurately. If you give the chance for the fish to thrash, hooks can go flying and unnecessary damage is done to the fish. Once the fish is unhooked, I always like dipping them back in the water to let them catch their breathe.
Next step is photos. Not an easy task by yourself but, a challenge that I gladly take on. Documenting your catch is another way of showing respect by passing on the story and solidifying that moment in time. Finally, time for release. Another step in the process of showing the most respect to your catch. Introduce them back to the water, slowly. Once it is time for them to go, they will. As that fish swims away, be grateful that you had that few minutes to spend together.
After the ordeal taking a rest on the sunny bank. The subtle smell of garlic lingers in the fresh cool breeze. This is the first time in hours truly relaxing, this may be the first time in days. Not a care in the world, the sun on my face. My back against the Earth, I feel relief, I feel healing has begun. A few sips of water really make you appreciate the precious nature of clean drinking water.