|Donn's 24" monster...take not of the shoreline in the|
After being satisfied by catching some fish on dries, Donn immediately turned to the streamer rod. He refuses to nymph and will only throw streamers in the winter. They aren't nearly as productive as a nymphs, but there's always that opportunity for a trophy. He fishes streamers in the Kelly Galloup fashion; type 3 sinking line and light, articulated patterns. We covered several miles of water without even a chase. However, we did have a few false hookup's on rocks and sticks. We entered a long, deep run and suddenly Donn's rod doubled over. For an instant I thought he had caught another rock. Fortunately, I was proven wrong as the rod bounced and line peeled off his reel. Immediately I knew we had a VERY special fish. As we began to fight it everything slowed down and became very quite. At first the fish put his head down and bulldogged Donn. This is the moment when fishing from a boat becomes a team sport. If I were to let the boat be pulled down river by the current too much line would come off the reel. This would make it extremely difficult for him (or any angler) to control the fish and also a good chance of losing it. I struggled to hold the boat stationary as the fish held its ground (or I should say water). After a what seemed like an eternity, Donn was able to turn the fish's head and we slowly headed downstream. As he fought to gain line he applied opposite pressure to the fish. This is crucial in battling big fish. If the fish heads right you need to pull left with the rod, and vice versa. After about 200 yards, I spotted a soft inside run perfect for landing a fish. Although we both knew it was a monster neither Donn nor I, at this point, had seen the fish. As I eased into the softer water the fish was still about 20 feet upstream of us. Before he could coax the fish any closer, with a thunderous report, my oar blade hit the bottom. The fish although tiring, in a blink of an eye, rocketed out of the shallows and shot 100 feet upstream. With line screaming off his reel I pulled on the oars as hard as possible. Not only did I need to get the boat out off the bank, but as far upstream as possible. As soon as I got the boat in motion the wily beast spun 180º and charged downstream. I looked up at Donn's rod to see nothing; no bend and only slack, piled up line. As the fish raced past us, I got a good look at just how big it was. I felt like Sgt. Brody in the movie Jaws when the shark swims alongside the boat. With all the slack line I was sure it would be the last time I would see this particular fish. Fortunately, the fish gods were smiling. After what seemed like a lifetime Donn regained pressure on the beast. I quickly spun the bow of the boat downstream and began furiously oaring. We fought the fish for another 200 yards until I spotted another soft inside run. After some very tense moments, including when the fish swam completely under the boat while it was beached, we finally had the 24", 5 plus pound male brown trout in the net. On the Bitterroot River, this fish was, and still is, one of the biggest trout that has graced my net. I have seen bigger fish but they always have found a way to escape the net. My personal best is 23". On shore we relived the battle over a few celebratory beers . A great story for sure, but this only two-thirds of the journey.
|Notice anything familiar in the background shoreline? I'm|
standing in the EXACT same spot Donn was the week