Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 100 - Trophy Trout

As a heads up, I've been toying with the idea of moving to a different blogging service. While I like the use of blogger.com, I think the use of Word Press may offer me some better opportunities in the future. Currently I'm posting on both sites, but I think by the end of the year I will be using strictly Word Press. If you'd like, you can visit the new site at: http://www.365flyfish.wordpress.com/

Wow. Milestone today. 100 days without a miss. That might be a record for me.

They say that certain fish will haunt you. They will slowly creep up on you while taking a shower, driving to work, or while sitting in front of a computer typing a blog. I don't know who "they" are but "they" are right. For me, this trout that has been haunting me is the big rainbow from Stone Mountain State Park. I can still see the hazy scarlet cheeks of that fish as I used my rod to lift its nose out of the water. I think the part that haunts me the most is that I never got a good luck at it. Instead, my machismo got the best of me and I tried to heft it out of the water with just the line. Hook pulled free and into the inky abyss it slipped into, leaving me feel a little ashamed for not taking the time to net the fish properly.

Usually, the size of my fish are not something to write home to mom about. I catch my fair share, and have even eeked out a few fish when no one else have. However, the size of my fish are a little diminutive. The typically range from 8" to 14" (weighted heavily towards the 8" in most cases). Normally this hasn't bothered me. In fact, when I was working at the HQ for a certain Hunt, Fish, Camp retailer I was teased that the size of the fish that I caught could be considered bait to many of the fishermen (and women) that I worked with. Living in Minnesota, the typical angler there fishes for walleye, pike, and muskie. I never really cared, because I thought my fish were more difficult to catch.

Then there came the day that I volunteered to "shock" fish on the Vermillion River, just south of the Twin Cities. I showed up, put my waders on, grabbed a net, and scooped trout as they came to the surface. I should explain that shocking fish is a way to count fish in a section of a stream to diagnose the health of the river. The fish are mildly disoriented by an electrical current, then weighed or measured. They are released back into the river with as little stress as possible.

Anyway, the size of the fish that we were pulling out of there were huge. Some measured over 26" and were taken from sections of the river that didn't look to me as fishy. Some of them were way under banks. As soon as I started seeing the quantities of these trophy fish, I recalled some hearsay about an angler in the area who only fished with an 8 weight rod. At the time of hearing this, I thought this was a Paul Bunyan tale and laughed at the idea. When I saw those fish, I thought maybe there was more truth than tale.

After that fish shocking, I was never quite able to go back and fish that section. Even if I had, I doubt that I would have caught anything of size and would have left feeling frustrated. To be truly honest, I never had trophy trout fever. I just assumed that the people that caught large fish were just luckier than me. Now I believe that I may have been mislead on that idea too.

I have a book in my library called, "Big Trout: How and Where to Target Trophies" by Bernie Taylor. Like some books in my library I purchased this one along the way, put it on the shelf and completely forgot about it. I pulled it down the other day and it now sits at the top of my reading pile. I thumbed through the chapters and I'm kicking myself for not taking it down sooner.

My wife and I say that there are things I don't know that I don't know, things I know that I don't know, things that I know that I know, and finally things that I don't know that I know. This is a simplified dumbed down version of a learning process. While it is easy for me to say that I know that I don't know how to catch trophy trout, it really comes down to I don't know that I don't know. There are so many things that factor into catching fish that I feel that I am back in elementary school learning my A-B-C's. Weather, moon cycles, water temp, water color, water speed, time of day, season... they go on and on. To be honest, I just thought it revolved around one idea: Structure. But that my friend is only a very small piece of the very large puzzle.

Consequently, I will read this book and study it's secrets. If for no other reasons that it will at least allow me to increase the quantity of my fish if not the size. I will learn the crazy notions of wind direction and zooplankton, the difference between green water days and blue water days, and other such madness. And if I find something that is truly impressive, I might even share it here. Afterall, I don't fish with all of you so you might as well learn to catch the big one as well. Just do me a favor, if I am fishing with you, let me catch the big one. I have an ego that needs to be fed and I don't want to be haunted by any other fish that got away.

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