The biggest trout I ever landed isn’t memorialized on my phone or camera, nestled between pictures of canyon walls and flowers, interesting plants and my dog. No one will ever see a record of Bubba Brown Trout, but it is burned in my memory.
I hooked it on a big, green streamer on a sunny, early spring day in Wind River Canyon.
The Bureau of Reclamation was letting water out of Boysen Dam, and water flooded the banks, submerging grasses and nearby poison ivy. Rattlesnakes were just coming out. Trout were hungry for anything unfortunate enough to land on the water.
I had been swinging the streamer for hours – days it seemed like – when a brown trout, the brown trout I’ve been trying to catch for years, bit.
It shot into rapids, pulling more line out of my reel than I’d ever seen. I chased it downstream, stumbling and tripping over rocks, screaming at my fishing buddy and husband, Josh, to be ready. I would want a picture – some kind of picture – of this one.
When both fish and angler were worn, I pulled it into the flooded grass. It was beautiful. Brown spots shone out of halos of gold. A hook jaw showed its age. I had played it enough. It needed to go back in the river. But I really wanted a picture.
I left it in the water, careful it could still breathe, and handed Josh my phone as I looked up, holding carefully onto the tail. Then it flipped, splashed, and was gone. I may have won the battle, but in a quest to capture a picture of Bubba Brown Trout, Bubba emerged victorious. (As a note to Bubba, I now carry a net).
With the experience, I joined a line of people going back in time who tell stories of the one that got away. I honestly don’t know how big it was. Five pounds? 30 inches? Maybe. I’ll tell myself it was, and while people can tell me I’m wrong, no one can prove I am – just as I can’t prove I’m right.
Most of the time I catch 12-to 18-inch fish with a spattering of 5-inchers and a few over 20. And turns out, their size doesn’t really matter. Each one has a story. The 5-inch fish I caught at the end of September from a tiny stream in the Snowy Range after a hard season elk hunting with a newborn was almost as memorable.
This spring’s magazine is devoted entirely to those stories. You’ll find tales of anglers entering the sport, tips for catching the big one when it’s still cold, and my personal favorite – outfitting yourself for fly fishing on the cheap.
Make sure you check the fish recipes guaranteed to please even the fish-averse palette, and for our younger readers, enjoy the activities ready to be experienced on the first warm day.
And keep in touch. If you have stories or photos you’d like to share, send them along to us, we’d love to hear from you.