Friday, January 20, 2023

Spectacular Vermont Brown Trout

 "Want to give it a shot?" Drew Price called to me from the other side of the creek, knee deep along a great looking pool. He'd just hung his fly in a limb on the near side after covering the pool fairly thoroughly. I figured I had no shot but said "sure" anyway and crossed to his side. The clear, cold flow of this lowland river squeezed the air out of my waders as I made my way over on a gravel bar. This was a stream I'm never fished before, one Drew told me had been really intriguing him as it refused to give up the caliber fish he knew were residing there. Of course this intrigued me greatly. That's the sort of trout stream that grabs and maintains my interest, the sort that I know has large fish but is impenetrable and hard to crack. So of course when Drew asked if I'd like to make the ride up and fish it with him I obliged. 

The initial fishing enforced the idea that this was going to be a tough nut to crack. Access wasn't easy, the water was very clear, and the narrowness and sweeping bends formed complex current breaks that were hard to read. There were also lots of places for a lethargic trout to bury themselves into during the cold- deep cut banks and log jams -that they likely won't come out of all that willingly.  We didn't catch fish through a bunch of juicy looking water. I'd opted to fish a mono rig and a sparkle minnow. I have confidence in Coffey's Sparkle Minnow for wild brown trout just about everywhere, and the mono rig would allow my to flip and sling the streamer in the abundant places where I'd have no back cast room. I moved two smaller trout as we made our way down, both made their attacks the moment after I completely flipped the direction the fly was swimming. But those fish really weren't all that confidence inducing for me, they were small fish and we were covering a lot of water that felt as though it should be producing that just wasn't. Drew wasn't kidding about this place. 

That was what lead us to that deep pool. In that time, the river had gotten under my skin, just as Drew had expected it would. This was my sort of trout stream. And it was about to get a lot more interesting. I eased up the side of the pool where drew had fished and began casting my sparkle minnow toward the head of the pool. I made a few fairly typical retrieves before I decided to switch it up and two hand retrieve as fast as I could. I don't remember how many casts it was before a nice trout made a visually spectacular swipe at the fly just about right under Drew's rod tip. "Shit, I just had about a 22 inch fish take a swipe" I said. It never touched the fly, but I really didn't expect it to come back. I made three more casts before feeling that telltale tension and with urgency stated "there she is!". I made quick work of the fight and Drew got the net under it. We went crazy, both of us- almost incoherent. It was indeed 22 inches, and an absolutely gorgeous and unusual looking trout. It didn't look like any trout I'd ever caught before. It was very pale overall with spectacular light blue cheeks. It was a lovely brown trout and my first over the 20 inch mark this year. A good start to the new trout year if I do say so myself!

Photo Courtesy Drew Price

Photo Courtesy Drew Price

That could have been a start of a roll, but it wasn't really. Drew caught another fish a short time later but other than that I don't know that either of us actually moved another the rest of the day. The water looked great though and I was beginning to formulate methods and approaches. Suffice to say, I'll be back. Likely more than once. Probably many many times. Though that fish was a clincher, there's just something about covering as much water as we did, as much killer looking water, without catching numbers of trout that intrigues me. We know there are fish there. Obviously there are fish there. The question is, how do we catch them consistently? It'll take some time to figure it out I'm sure. 

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