Friday, December 28, 2007

A Fish Story

My buddy over in Arkansas calls me up two days before Thanksgiving and says "Fitzman, where the hell are you!!?" I said I'm back home moving in on a turkey, why, did you hang a big one? He goes on to explain that he just landed 3 trout, 2 rainbows and 1 brown, all of which were over 20 inches. The brown was 24 inches and weighed 7 1/2 lbs (!). Almost sheepishly he admits he is going to keep it and mount it. We had had a conversation this past summer on the banks of the river about how neither one of us had ever kept and mounted a trout before, and that in general we were against the idea. That said, we both agreed that if we happened to catch a really large, old, male trout (no females with eggs!) we might cave in. Well, he caught such a trout, and the brown was in its full fall spawning colors. He also deserved it after releasing, just minutes before, a big female rainbow chock full of eggs (who says rainbows only spawn in the spring?).
So, I head over to Arkansas the week after Thanksgiving, just in time for a strong cold front that passed through. I fished the evening of my arrival, then set up the tent with big plans for the next morning. The next morning was very foggy next to the river and about 26 degrees. As I was making coffee, I noticed my wading boots were completely frozen and sat them down in the river to thaw so I could get them on. By the I got my waders, boots, and fly-rod all together and got into the river, I was one cold SOAB. After catching a few trout, I hooked the one in this picture. I worked the fish to perfection and soon had it near me and I was excited because for once I had brought my net with me. I've owned the net for years but for various reasons never used it. However, landing this fish would be difficult because I could not get my fingers to process the "SQUEEZE" command from my brain and therefore could not squeeze the release clasp on my net to disconnect it from my fly-fishing vest. I started laughing realizing there was a good chance I could lose this fish. Undaunted, I held the fly-rod in one hand (with the fish on) and dangled the other hand in the 50 degree water (which felt nice and warm!) to thaw out. Eventually I got some feeling back, got the net clasp to release, and landed the fish, the first using my net.
Btw, I had tried to sell the 5 wt bamboo fly-rod which I made (with Preacher Jim's help) on Ebay a couple weeks earlier but no one would bid on it. I caught this rainbow on that fly-rod and discovered that it can throw weighted wooly buggers very nicely (though for some reason I can't float a smal dry fly with it to save my life). Anyhow, I am glad nobody on Ebay wanted my bamboo fly rod.


heavyD said...

Hey Cuz, nice fish story! Are you making rods now? If you ever need me to test an 8 or 9 wt. send it up! It's been years since I've caught any big rainbows, seems like we're always chasing salmon now. Actually, I'm not doing a whole lot of rod and reel fishing these days, mostly use a 300' gillnet for kings and reds out in the salt water. That gets us our supply for the year. I'll try to remember to bring some smoked Copper River king to the reunion this summer.

Things are great here, we've got half a moose in the freezer, lots of snow for skiing and the days are getting longer! What more could you ask for?

Where can I e-mail a picture of the last "rod and reel" fish I caught? See you at the reunion. Dana

dana said...

Hi Mike, I'm gonna see if I can post these fish pics on your blog. First one is a net caught king (caught in May).
The next one is that winter king caught trolling in January.
Hope this works! See ya, Dana