big browns and a new personal best
This was the first full moon weekend of summer. The third weekend of June, 2016. Up until June the mouse bite had been slow. It just hadn't turned on yet. But after getting into some great mousing action during the darker moon a week prior [see Mousing: 'tis the season], I couldn't wait to get out with moonlight to see by and sling some more mice. The switch had flipped and it was time for the summer games to begin.
Sometimes all the effort pays off in a big way. Those are motivating moments. They pull you forward as you anticipate when they might occur, and then they propel you into the future with renewed vigor after they've happened. All those hours of exploring spots in daytime. Casting into the darkness of night. Hours logged. Fish encounters - successful or not - filed in your mental database. You hope it will happen, you know it CAN happen, but deep inside you wonder if it ever really will. But it only takes one bite, and that bite came on my second consecutive solo all-nighter of the weekend when my mouse pattern was slurped off the surface at 2:30 in the morning.
I was targeting a shoreline of big chunky rocks I've been hitting repeatedly for three years after discovering it holds solid browns. More often than not it is persistence that catches fish more than any particular technique. I knew it had to hold big ones. Over the past few years I've taken browns measuring in the low to mid twenties (inches) off it. And I'd broken a bigger one off in a lousy rookie-like hookset - I'd seen the giant brown take my offering in broad daylight and it had made a fool of me [in the 2014 article Looking Back]. If I had to rank my current spots for potential to produce a trophy, this one little stretch of shoreline only a couple hundred yards long would be on top. And I hadn't even fished it at night before. So I opted to take night number two, pick my way for nearly two miles along the stony and essentially trail-less river edge to get there, and cast to this one spot. The result was likely my biggest trout to date, and certainly my biggest on a fly rod.
But before that, the first night was fantastic all on its own. The hits were infrequent but solid - a typical story
|First big brown of the weekend
This was a shoreline with ample structure and slower current - an ideal setup for tossing mice. And it stretches for over a mile before transitioning into terraced cut banks and trading the rocky structure for clay bluffs. I caught fish on three different mouse patterns that night. All of the browns hit when the mouse was inches from or touching rock that extended out from the shore. They were waiting in ambush points like largemouth bass, but sitting in water you'd never find them in during the day. I managed to net and photograph three browns at or over 20 inches, two of which were particularly impressive in overall size and coloration. Two stunning browns in one night! It was such a good night. Seemingly so hard to beat. It was exactly what you hope for when working a trout water with mice. I was satisfied enough that if I didn't make it out again this weekend I would still feel fully accomplished.
|Beauty contest winner of the weekend