Well, spring is over, June is halfway through and most of the fishermen have gone to the lakes and rivers for their fishing.
Walleye now occupy most of our attention, but bass will soon be in the game. The trout have fallen into the shadows, although dead in the wool, the fly fishermen are only picking up their pace. Recent rains have kept the streams going, which is a good thing if you are still chasing the now extremely cautious trout.
This week I wasn’t thinking about fishing. I had to tackle a few leaking water pipes. If you’ve ever done the plumbing yourself, you know very well why it is painful. On a good day, you can end up after just four or five trips to the store for extra items. A bad day can mean 10 or more visits to the hardware store.
Well the replacement lines went well – not a single leak – but the joint between the old and the new copper failed. I was tired, sore and angry at the end of the day. It seemed like no choice but to crawl far back and completely replace that old line. Fortunately, the new shut-off valve I had installed diverted the water to the shower.
I was pulled out of my woes when my friend Mike Otto sent me a picture of a beautiful rainbow he had just taken. Did I want to go fishing with him in the morning? You bet; blasted plumbing can wait.
OLEAN the area is blessed with larger trout streams which retain great browns and rainbows throughout the year.
If you are not a fly fisherman, I suggest finding streams that have swift, white water bodies, undercut banks, deep ripples, and bushy overhangs for consistent success.
The alarm sounded at 5:15 a.m. and Mike parked the driveway at 6:00 a.m. The weather was promising, some rain fell overnight, the temperature was cool 59 degrees. A jacket felt good. When we got there the stream was just a little rain discolored, perfect, and I eagerly attached a small jig that I had killed the trout on before. To my amazement, the trout completely ignored it. What? Well this is the trout for you, love it one day, hate it the next day.
We started with the largest and deepest pool. The water was fast at the top but then deepened and whirled around in a slow vortex. We forwarded several trout to a few small spinners and saw others at the bottom of the pool. They moved into deeper waters when they became aware of us. We then started throwing everything at them in our tackle boxes. They ignored everything. I switched to a worm and caught a little rainbow just four inches long. I was very careful removing the hook and the little guy walked away, but 10 minutes later he resurfaced and started struggling on top. The hook had done some damage, although it had never bled at all. Then, unexpectedly, the little trout disappeared in a huge boil of water. Wow. Everything that hit the rainbow was big, and to my knowledge no bass or pike was that far upstream. It must have been an oversized brown.
WE HAVE MOVED downstream to faster waters and caught a few trout each. I also caught two small sucker chub about four inches long. I dug a hole next to the stream and kept them alive. When we got back I put them in a container and went back to the big hole. I attached a larger eagle claw, hooked the chub by the back, and threw the heavy offering at the top of the whirlpool. The second drift, I lifted the chub from the bottom and felt a slight knock. I dropped the rod and waited. It must have been a success, right?
Since the chub was an oversized meal for even bigger trout, I waited a minute and lifted the rod slightly once more. I felt a weight and noticed that my line was moving downstream. If what caught the chub was an 18-20 inch trout, I figured it would take a while for it to swallow such a big minnow. After waiting two very long minutes, I tightened up again, noticing that the fish had come back upstream to the center of the vortex. Taking a deep breath, I squeezed out every inch of slack and pulled. When the line was tight, I pulled firmly to set the hook and the battle began.
Regardless, it didn’t seem too worried at first, just swimming up and down the hole. Carefully, I just maintained a firm pressure. At the bottom of the pool, I saw the fish spin around and guessed it was about 20 inches. Another trip up and down the hole. This time it was much closer and shallower. We saw each other at the same time. I swallowed, the trout was well over 20 inches in length and when he saw me he rushed upstream, effortlessly removing 50 feet of line. The sacred cow.
MY HANDS trembled, the seven-foot UL bent in half, the raw power of the trout throbbing up to four pounds. For another five minutes it raged on, making short, violent runs while I lightened the drag and constantly reminded myself not to ride it, knowing the light line would break if I did.
Eventually he got tired to the point that I could keep him within 20 feet. Time and time again I led him to the net and every time he turned and turned he would shoot a short distance. It is always the most agonizing time of any battle.
Finally, exhausted, he turned to his side and Mike plunged him head first into his not too wide net. There was a flurry of flowing water and pounding fish, but at last the big trout collapsed inside the mesh and was mine.
Smiling like maniacs, Mike and I gave a high-five, laughing in disbelief. What a trout. The tape showed he was 24 inches long with a large head and a hooked jaw. I didn’t have to worry about letting him chew the bait for so long, he could easily have eaten a 12 inch fish.
Mike had never seen a trout this size and was just as excited as I was. We just couldn’t believe our good fortune.
“Just think, you could have stayed home and got it wrong,” he said with a smile.
Shaking my head, I laughed and replied, “Yes, thank goodness you texted me.”
After all, fellow fishermen, you just never know what may be lurking in the depths on any given day.