A beautiful 11 Lb.+ brown with a gorgeous backdrop. Photo courtesy Eric Cole.
Click to view image
I knew this was going to be a fun one to write up when I started planning it a few months ago. As we did the phone interview this week to nail down some of the details and dates, I couldn’t help but to reflect back on when I first heard about Allan Cole.
I was rebuilding my life back in 1981 and just starting to fish again. This time I had set a goal to make it into the Brownbaggers Club. I had read about this gang of guys chasing after big browns and I was intrigued. I started fishing up at the Twin Lakes in California with my Dad during the Spring and Fall each year attempting to get the two 10 LB.+ browns that were required to get into the club. I remember how I would try and get a booth near Allan and some of the other baggers when we ate at Mono Village for dinner so I could ease drop and maybe pick up a tip or two on where or how to catch a big brown.
I officially met Allan back in 2000 when I caught my second brown over 10 LB. and got my bagger patch and entry into the club. It was pretty cool to finally reach that goal after a lot of years of trying. We hooked up in the Paulina Lake parking lot and that was the start of our friendship. As it worked out, we have become close friends over the last 14 years. In fact, Eric, his son, moved to Bend several years ago and we fish together when we can and have also become good friends.
When Allan moved to Bishop back in 1969, it was the beginning of his pursuit of big brown trout and a legendary career he couldn’t see coming back then. With the Twin Lakes setting just 90 miles away up the road near Bridgeport, he had access to the best big brown waters on the west coast at that time. That was when he met and befriended Rich Reinwald who went on to catch the State Record Brown around that same time with a 25 LB.+ hen. As it played out, Allan cooked up the idea of the club and Rich came up with the name Brownbaggers.
They were wise enough to realize that 10 LB. should be the standard and that it would take 2 to get into the club. As we sometimes joke, anybody might “luck” into one but getting the second one proves to be much harder. Having probably caught 50 browns over 9 LB. in my lifetime with only 7 over 10 LB., I know just how much harder it is to break the 10 LB. barrier!
Allan with a massive striper at Willow Beach, AZ.
Click to view image
Allan’s first brown over 10 LB. was a 16 LB. hen back in 1974. The big hen was the first of many 10 LB.+ browns that he would catch from both Upper and Lower Twin Lakes for several decades. That turned out to be an excellent year for Allan as he also nailed the California State Record Albacore that weighed 48 LB. Looks like “Mr. Lucky” was just getting started!
It was around this same time period that he began heading back to Flaming Gorge which had, by then, reached World Class status for big browns. Both the Wyoming and Utah State records started falling as bigger and bigger browns, sustained by an unlimited chub supply, reached unheard of proportions and each state soon had 30 LB. plus records on the books. In the spring of 1977, Bob Bringhurst, caught the World Record brown that weighed 33 LB. 10 oz. and Flaming Gorge sat at the top of the world for the biggest brown trout on the planet!
In 1976, Allan moved the family down to Lancaster to pursue a career as a painting contractor. While he was there the idea of creating, what would turn out to be the original and first swimbait, started spinning in his head. Around 1984 he began playing with his new jointed plug with the famous rubber tail and testing it in creeks and swimming pools. At first he kept it pretty close to the vest and only a handful of his friends were using them. His first serious attempt with the lure was at Pyramid Lake off I-5 in Southern California for striped bass and they worked......really well!!
During this period he began using them on stripers at Silverwood, Castaic and finally Willow Beach on the Colorado River. He then discovered that the monster Largemouth bass would hammer them as well......especially when you knew just how to use them. At this time he was so successful that he was even accused of using live trout until that rumor was put to bed.
Back in 1991, while fishing with outdoor writer, Rich Roberts, from the L.A. Times, Allan caught a 35 LB. striper from Silverwood Lake. This is when the lure finally went public and the rest is history!
With the economy going south during the recession of the early 90’s, the family moved again.....this time to Boulder City. Allan would now concentrate on the World Class Striper fishery that was developing along the Colorado River and that led to the creation of the 40 LB. Striper Club. I would venture to say that the A/C plug has caught more big stripers over 40 LB. on the west coast than any other lure by far.
After he had his company established and carving out as many hand made plugs as he could to keep up with orders, he finally positioned himself to sell the company. Back in 1995, the Fred Arbogast Company (anybody remember the Hula Popper or Jitterbug??) bought him out. After Arbogast was bought out by Pradco, the company came back into his hands and he sold it again.....this time to Luhr Jensen in the late 90’s. Then several years later Optimum Baits had the rights to build them. In 2006 the production lures came out before Allan finally sold the company for the last time.
These days he is still selling his custom hand carved lures and if you are interested in purchasing some, be sure to visit his website www.acplugs.com or call them at 805-931-6765. These lures have been proven to catch many species of big fish including brown trout, lake trout, bull trout, striped bass, largemouth bass, pike, and tiger musky to name a few.
More than just a “Legend in his own mind”, (which I can get away with calling him, Ha Ha!) he truly is a “Fishing Legend” and has accomplished so many things in his fishing career I don’t have the time or space here to go into it all. Some of the highlights, to list a few, include catching 31 stripers over 40 LB. with 8 of those weighing over 50 LB.!! The cherry on the top of that cake is his Nevada State record striper of 63 LB.!! His list of largemouth over 10 LB. exceeds 60 and still going! His personal best was a 17 LB. behemoth from Castaic Lagoon! And last but not least, he tops the list of the Brownbaggers Club with 39 over 10 LB.!! The big 26 LB. hen brown from Paulina Lake is his personal best brown and you can see the mount we did for the resort in the photo above.
To wind this up, I can say that our deepest connection is our shared faith and trust in the Lord, Jesus Christ and we both know that our lives have been blessed in so many ways because of Him. A few years ago Allan had a multiple heart by-pass and then just recently, he had surgery on his aorta. Since he came through both with flying colors, it appears that God is not done with him yet!
I have a funny feeling he will likely catch his # 40 brown over 10 LB. this next year! I wouldn’t bet against him, that’s for sure!