Before I start of this story let me give you a little back story. It was May 23rd, 2014. My father was set to head out to California to work in Yosemite National Park. I had been wanting to fish for about a week, but the weather wouldn’t allow me too. That night I went to bed extremely early in hopes after I wished dad safe travels I would be awake enough to go fish. Fast forward to May 24th which is only 2 days away from my birthday which I had to work the 25th and 26th. It was 7 am when dad finally headed out. I was half awake, but decided to tough it out and fix me some coffee to go. After eating breakfast I packed my gear into my old exploder as I like to call it and headed to my favorite fishing spot. Now to begin the story.
It was May 24th, 2014. I decided to start fishing at an undisclosed location in Ashe County. For some reason I was feeling good about today. I went about a mile down from where I normally get into the creek. Things started off very slow. It was about to the point where I wanted to give up and go back to bed. I was fishing with my Orvis Silver Label 7ft 8inch rod. I had on just a dry fly, but decided to switch to a dry dropper combo. The dry fly I was using was a Carolina Wulff, and the dropper I was using was a size 18 blood midge. Immediately I started pulling in fish left and right. All of the fish were hitting the blood midge. They had just recently stocked the creek, but all I was catching were wild brown and rainbow trout. This was alright with me because I had never had good luck catching a big trout at this point. Every time I catch a wild fish I am in awe of how different yet beautiful each trout is. I kept fishing up until I got to a bridge over the creek. This spot usually nets me 10-15 trout per visit regardless of if they stocked it or not. Today was no different. Under this bridge I usually only catch stocked fish. However, today as mentioned before I was only catching wild brown and rainbow trout. At this point in the trip 2 hours had passed with a total fish count of around 35 trout. I was just about to give up and head home. I figured this was good enough for today, and I can always save the rest of the creek for my next day off. As I was getting out of the creek I saw a fish hit top water. This got me excited again so I quickly cast where I saw the fish hit. On the first cast I caught one of the most beautiful brook trout I have ever caught. This doesn’t happen much on the stream so I was extremely happy now.
Keep in mind I have only fished about 50 yards above the bridge now. The total area I have fished so far is about 500 yards. I kept walking and fishing. The fish kept hitting. Finally I walked up to a spot where I never catch fish so I decided to take a break. This is where the story gets good. I will describe the spot and then post a picture below before continuing the story. This spot has a stump at the lower end of the hole. At the top end is a current that feeds into a deep hole right before the stump. I would estimate the depth to be around 6 foot deep.
Now this is a picture taken 2 weeks after I caught the fish as you can see. Let me get into the really good part of the story. After taking my break the time was about 9:30 am. Total fish count was around 46 now. I was just putting away my drink when I notice what I thought was a set of leaves moving around in the creek underneath that branch you see above the fish. It kept moving so I walked up literally right beside it to fish the top of the hole. I was around 300 yards past the bridge at this point.
I cast my fly rod at the top of the hole. It drifts down about 3 feet before my dry fly sinks. I set the hook. I was so happy at this point because I had never caught a fish in this hole before. I start reeling in the fish. At this point the fish jumps out of the water, and I get a good look at it. It is around a 10 inch wild brown trout. It is in the middle of the hole at this point. I am letting it fight so when I unhook it the fish will be tired enough to let me get the hook out. When to my surprise I notice something move from underneath the log. What I thought was the set of leaves actually wasn’t because it isn’t there at this point. When all of a sudden I felt the most amazing bump on the fly rod I have ever experienced. It hit hard. I set the hook again. However, I still only had the 10 inch brown trout on. What ever it was kept hitting. After the third time of setting my hook I seemed to have gained a lot of extra weight. This wasn’t the 10 inch fish I had on before. It was something much bigger. I start reeling in this fish, but it keeps pulling out more line. Finally, after a minute the fish hits the top water. I was in shock. It was one of the biggest fish at this point I have ever had on my line that I knew about. I caught a quick glimpse of it and could tell it was a brown trout.
The fish kept fighting me. It finally decided to go underneath the limb and stump pictured above. At this point I was just happy to have had this fish on my line. I figured with my luck this fish would get tangled and I wouldn’t be able to net it. It fought with me more than any fish I have still caught to this day. It finally got out from under the stump and headed towards the top of the hole. Once it got to the top of the hole it darted down stream. It was a full on sprint from now on. I had already been fighting this fish for 5 minutes now. I started running down stream to keep up with the fish. I had to make sure that I let the fish have enough slack to keep moving, but I had to be mindful not to give it to much slack that the fish would get unhooked. I slipped a few times but got back up. I ran and fought this fish all the way down to the bridge I had mentioned before. This was 300 yards down. This section is a lot slower than the rest. I let the fish rest a minute before starting to reel in the fish. However, the fish decides to take back up stream. Of course being to scared to fight the fish into my net I follow it back upstream. We get right below the stump again. This fish had fought me 300 yards downstream then 300 yards back up stream. I decided I better net the fish before I kill it because of it overexerting itself. I start reeling in the fish all the while its still fighting back. I manage to get it close enough to the net.
Finally, after 12 minutes of fighting this fish I have it in my net. I not only have this monster of a brown trout in my net, but the original 10 inch brown trout I had hooked at the start of this adventure. I was in shock, and so thankful. This 24 inch brown trout attacked my 10 inch brown trout. I was able to hook the 24 inch brown trout with the nymph that was previously in the 10 inch brown trout. I am guessing somewhere along the fight the fly got out of the 10 inch fishes mouth, and got into the other trouts mouth. Now at this point in my fishing career I was more concerned with having a good picture than I was with the fishes health so don’t judge me. I laid the fish down on the rocks outside of the creek after that 12 minute battle to snap a quick picture instead of keeping it in the water. If I had to do it over again I would have just released the fish and not taken the picture. The picture helps with the story, but now I am more concerned about the proper way to handle fish. I took these two picture that will be shown below before releasing the fish. To me this brown trout didn’t look like a stocked fish, but a huge wild brown trout. I could be wrong though.
The picture with the fish in the water was taken 2 weeks after this story took place. I was so relieved to know my actions didn’t kill the fish. It took 15 minutes of holding the fish in water before it was ready to swim off by itself. It bellied up to the top several times during that 15 minutes, but it finally did gain enough strength to swim back underneath the stump. Being able to catch a fish this size on another trout to me seems like a once in a lifetime experience. Especially in small streams like the ones we have in Ashe County. Looking back I would have done a few things different when handling the fish, but I don’t regret taking these pictures so I can always look back on them and remember this story. This was a great early birthday present for me, and has to be my favorite fish I have ever caught. However, I don’t know what happened to that fish. I assume since it is hatchery supported a spinner or a wormer caught it and kept it. There still is a chance that this fish is still alive in the same spot waiting to be caught again another day. After catching the fish I decided to call it quits even though I was so close to 50 trout in under 4 hours. This would have been a new record for me that I wouldn’t obtain until 2016. The story of this fishing experience was wrote the day after catching the fish. I added some more information to this story for a better understanding of the whole experience.
This story reminds me that you never know what to expect. That was a hole I had never caught anything in before. It just goes to show you to never give up in whatever you are doing. Something good can come out of a negative situation. In this story the situation is my bad luck with this hole. I had fished this hole many times with no fish, but I kept fishing it because you never know what will happen.