During our search I saw a fish that managed to grasp a firm hold on my thoughts for almost two months. Our first encounter was a HUGE disappointment....I walked up to the edge of the bank and there it was, five feet in front of me sitting motionless on the bottom. This was the one we had been searching for. I fished to it for about an hour before I submitted to defeat. The fish was completely inactive and it was in no way going to eat. So I intentionally spooked it to get a good look at it, and I was blown away! I estimated it at 30 inches and THICK! I was instantly possessed and returned multiple times over the next two weeks occasionally catching glimpses of it. Eventually I stopped seeing the fish at all, but I continued to fish for the next month and a half hoping for another chance......
Now, back to the day when everything finally came together. As we moved up the bank Jordan spotted some fish for me but my stealthy approach still spooked them. My spirits began to sink. I continued upstream with increasing anger as fish continued to dart past me. With low spirits I continued on my way, and then I saw it.... I had already passed it, taking it for a log. Jordan had even passed it too. This fish blended in perfectly with its surroundings, but its perfect torpedo shape gave it away. I froze, terrified it was too late, and that at any moment it would dart downstream. Heartbeat racing I made my cast, nothing. A couple casts later I saw the beast open his mouth with an aggressive headshake. I set the hook hard and he rocketed straight to the surface. He jumped numerous times, tail walking and head shaking like a pissed off tarpon. Moments later he was lying in my net.
This fish taught me so much about what it takes to catch these rare trophies. Chasing big fish, particularly ones over 30 inches requires nothing short of pure dedication.... I got to the point where I was making poor decisions so I could be out fishing. I barely scraped by in school, I had almost no money, I was spending way too much on gas, and I wasn't working nearly as much as I should have been. I was about as close as it gets to being a fishing bum. Sometimes however, this is what it takes to nail the fish of a lifetime, the fish that lingers in your thoughts months after catching it. This fall Jordan and I both stuck amazing fish, and catching them was extremely difficult. Fishing at least 2 days a week and sometimes up to 5, we had way more fishless days than good ones. So many factors have to come together and you have to be there when they do. The proper lighting on the water, the right time of day/night, water clarity, favorable wind, knowing where the fish are going to be and how to approach them, and the right fly setup, are just a few of the things you have to worry about. It’s overwhelming! As expected, it has only fueled my desire to catch next level fish even more! But that is the life of a fisherman; we never seem to be satisfied. There is always the thought of an even larger fish lurking somewhere else just waiting to be discovered, hunted, and hopefully caught. Some will say that catching big fish is about getting lucky, sometimes it is. But most of the time it’s about working your butt off, and understanding that most the time you won’t catch anything. Eventually though, if you put in the time, everything will come together and you will get the unicorn you're after.
More to come from Jordan and his trophy of the year, keep an eye out for Part 2 soon to come!