Monday, July 25, 2011

Trout Fishing? Je Refuse!

This guy catches all of the trout.
None left for me.  Must be the hat. 
It's not that I'm against trout, or against trout fishermen.  I just don't go trout fishing.  I've certainly caught some great ones over the years - my first big brown (about 15" but I didn't measure it) in the Linville Gorge Wilderness (1997), a 21" rainbow on the Youghiogheny in far southwestern Maryland (2005), and my first trout on fly, Winklers Creek Put and Take area, Boone NC, 1997 (a stocked rainbow, about 11").  But overall, if you stacked up any other group of gamefish I've caught vs. the number of trout I've caught, trout are dragging up the rear......despite the fact that I lived in the southern Appalachians for nearly 7 years.
I'll admit - part of it is that I'm not attracted to the difficulty of chasing 6" long genetically superior fish, when a slightly warmer river holds gullible 3lb smallmouth.  Another part of it is that my worst days trout fishing have been some of my worst days outdoors of all time. 

Trout love claw excavators!
 In an unrelated story, I recently found myself wrapping up a morning construction meeting at a stream restoration site on the Gunpowder River.  One of the goals of the project is to physically and genetically reconnect the wild brown trout populations upstream and downstream of a 200-year old mill dam.  That's all well and good - after all - managing habitat construction projects and funding is what I do. 

The contractor asked, "Do you have a rod in the truck?"  Of course I did (I had four rods in the truck, actually). He said, "We need a trout for a PR photo of the finished part of the project.  Go down to that restored pool and see if you can catch one."

Fish one (2 minutes into fishing): an 8" fallfish.

Fish two (4 minutes into fishing): a 5" wild brown trout.
Still waiting for my DNR buddy to send the actual photo - this is from

It was my first trout in at least 3 years, and it was beautiful.  I handled him gently and we took pictures of him with rocks and rootwads in the background before sliding him back into the cool, tan water.  We got back into our meeting and discussed itemized budgets, stop work orders, etc - the non-sexy side of habitat restoration work.  We wrapped up around 12:30pm and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since a very light breakfast at home. 

The air temperature was approaching 95 and as I headed up the road to a lunch spot, I started thinking about how and why I've ignored trout over the last several years.  Deep in thought, I missed my turn and had to go another few miles before I came to a service road.  I pulled in, and right as I jammed it into reverse, I saw a sign that read, "River Access Ahead .25 miles."  Hmm.

So I skipped lunch that day and went trout fishing instead - for the second time in one day.  That story is next.

One of many nice fallfish I landed! 100% humidity and nearly 100 degrees! My buddy Jim sent me this picture he took, instead of the one with me holding an actual brown trout I caught.  No worries, though!


e.m.b. said...

Way to bait a post! And yeah, I think fish definitely are more gullible for men with stylish hats. ;)

Kirk Mantay said...

Well, fish are gullible to people who fish with confidence (true of most things in life). And someone who dresses like that guy in the photo probably has plenty of confidence (although falsely inflated by a sense of importance).

And let's be honest. It's 105 degrees here. A man's gotta stretch his fishing blog posts as far as they will go! And honestly, I tend to blather on anyway, so why not?

tugboatdude said...

I'm put off by trout fishing with fly rods and the entire deal because it has a bad wrap.It falls into the category of snobby golfers and the like.I'm sure it's nice and all but I will stick with my spinning rod and catch just as many trout.Besides fishing for trout in your swim trunks with a cooler full of beer floating behind you is just as relaxing

Kirk Mantay said...

I think, if you're pure of heart, it comes down to challenge, and the allure of throwing something new at fish that they haven't seen. That's why I've started messing with fly rods and bass/panfish.

Unfortunately, I suck at fly casting. I don't anticipate fly fishing for trout anytime soon. I do not need any extra frustration in my life.

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