I’ve been staring out the window a lot lately; thinking of giant trout swimming lazily around some Wyoming or Montana river. I always do that around this time because January is when I get pictures from a good buddy who captures many of those giant trout in Montana every year.
I can’t give you his name because he might decide to kill me. I’ve known him for about 25 years, and I know where he caught every one of those fish and exactly what he caught them on. But he doesn’t like all the demanding attention he receives, and the constant questions about how and where he gets those fish. So let’s just call him Blondie, after Clint Eastwood’s character from the Spaghetti Westerns. They are both very deadly at what they do.
There’s nothing all that magical about Blondie’s fish, really (other than he’s the only one to catch them!). There’s no secret location. He catches all of them from public water somewhere in the Missouri, Madison and Yellowstone Rivers during the late fall season when giant brown trout tend to be more aggressive and rambunctious. Don’t get me wrong, though, Blondie never fishes over actual spawning trout; a practice he correctly believes to be unethical.
Blondie’s fish always run from 10 to 15 pounds, which are generally too old to be spawning anyway. There’s nothing all that magical about Blondie’s flies either. He uses his own version of a basic Wooley Bugger or a classic Bucktail streamer.
What’s magical about Blondie’s trout is the way in which he fishes for them. Although he’ll use one for access on large rivers, Blondie never catches his giants from a boat. He stops to wade fish from shore in order to cover his prime water very thoroughly, and with very, very long casts. Normally he uses a two-handed spey-casting type fly rod which allows him to get his fly deep, and to cover a lot of water. That’s one secret.
The other secret is the manner in which he fishes those streamer flies. Very slowly! Most people assume you need to fish streamer flies very rapidly in order to trigger a trout’s carnivorous instincts. That’s true, sometimes. And it can be true for what most of us consider to be large trout: Something ranging from 16 inches to 20 inches. But every year Blondie catches and photographs four to six trout which range from 28 inches to 34 inches, and which weigh 10 to 15 pounds! (He doesn’t even count the dozens of 20- to 24-inchers) The true giants are different, and Blondies’ the only one I know who catches trout that big year, after year after year.
So, to start the new year, take a few moments to gaze out the window and over the horizon with me. Imagine how you’re going to practice extending your casting distance, and how you’re going to present a slowly fished streamer to that giant who ignored your fast-paced presentation of previous trips. And, lastly, pray that I don’t get killed by the “Man with no Name” for sharing this information with you! Happy New Year!
GORDON ROSE works as a commercial fly tier and operates Sheridan WYO Healing Waters, part of a national nonprofit organization which teaches disabled military veterans fly fishing, fly tying and fly rod-building as part of their therapy.