Giants, Part 2
by Jerry Dennis
Thirty-inchers are extremely hard to come but, but you can't believe
how many twenty-inchers are caught. Literally: You can't believe it.
I've seen so many seventeen-inchers grow to twenty that I've become
skeptical of every report. Kelly Galloup, who in his shop hears stories almost
daily about twenty-inch trout taken from area waters, automatically subtracts
two or three inches. He's been fishing the rivers around here all his live
and has caught more big trout than anyone I know. He understands just how
big a genuine twenty-incher is, and how rare.
Not that they don't exist. They do, and probably in greater numbers than
most people suspect. The twenty-inch benchmark has taken on quasi-mythical
status on many waters, which is why so many anglers chase small trout while
harboring secret hope of the unexpected whopper. According to that way
of thinking, a large trout is an anomaly, like an albino moose or a zucchini
the size of a couch. A lot of people are convinced that such trout, even if
they do exist, are so smart they're virtually uncatchable.
It's not unusual for anglers to admit at a certain period in their lieves that
they've given up the quest for big trout, that they care less about the size
of the fish than the quality of the experience, that they appreciate a ten-inch brook trout
more than a ten-pound brown trout. I can sympathize.
I was once like that. My lust to kill faded and never came back, and I long
ago lost any urge to demonstrate prowness. Yet I'm more interested in large
trout now than at any time in my life. In my youth I caught some decent
fish, but few giants. Now, after thirty years of apprenticeship, I'm
arrogant enough to believe that I can occasionally catch one.
Mere bulk is not enough. I like catching steelhead, salmon, northern pike,
muskie, bass, even carp when they can be caught in clean water on light tackle,
and I will probably shout tributes at the top of my voice for tarpon, bonefish,
and striped bass if I ever wet my feet in salt, but I would still rather catch
wild, river-dwelling trout than any other fish. I'll take a twenty-inch brown
trout any day over a twenty-pound King salmon. It's a matter of temperament.
On the waters where I fish, salmon are aliens, transported across the continent
from the Pacific Northwest, entering rivers not to feed but to complete brief
and ultimately fatal mating missions. Catching them is like setting an ambush.
Brown trout are aliens, too - as I am - but they have been here long enough to
become nationalized - as I have also. They live year around in the rivers, and
know their surroundings intimately. When you step into a river, you're stepping
into their kitchen. Catching them requires knowledge of their kitchen, the
seasons, the insects, crustaceans, and bait fish - requires knowing almost
as much as the trout. You can sometimes get lucky, but to be consistently
lucky you have to be good. ~ Jerry Dennis
Continued next time!
About Jerry Dennis
Jerry Dennis lives in Traverse City Michigan and feeds his
obsession for fly fishing (and giant trout) by spending as much time as
possible on the Boardman, Manistee, and AuSable rivers. He has been
a full-time writer since 1986, writes for numerous magazines, and was
the recipient of the 1999 Michigan Author Award. His seven books
about nature and the outdoors include A Place On The Water,
The River Home and From a Wooden Canoe. The
River Home was name Best Outdoor Book of 1998 by the
Outdoor Writers Association of American and is now available in
Excerpt from The Riverwatch
The Quarterly Newsletter of the Anglers of the Au Sable.Lighter Side Archive