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Trophy Trout Profile: Jim Bringhurst
September 14, 2014

Jim holds up another 10 LB.+ brown.

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One of the coolest things about celebrating the legendary anglers I feature on the Trophy Trout Profile, is the fact that I have developed lasting friendships with most of them. One of these guys is Jim Bringhurst. Our connection came through the Brownbagger’s Club and I believe we meet at Paulina Lake in the early 2000’s.

Jim’s story starts back in the late 50’s when, as a kid, he gawked at the big mounts in Herron’s Sporting Goods in Bishop, California. They also had a freezer out in front of the store and on rare occasions, a big brown from Pleasant Valley Reservoir would be lying in it. I too remember seeing those big brown mounts as my grandparents lived in Bishop during that same time period and I would come up with my parents and stay on summer vacations. I was just happy to catch a rainbow or a rare brown from the Owens River with my grandfather.

Jim got serious about the pursuit of big browns back in the early 70’s. He caught 7 and 8 LB. browns from Upper Twin Lake back in 1973 while fishing with his brother Bob and that is when they became hooked. When I asked him, during my interview, when and where his first 10 LB.+ brown came from, he said it was a big hen from Lower Twin back back in the fall of 1975. The monster weighed 18 LB. 10 oz.! What a way to start out!

It was during that same time frame that Allan Cole and Rich Reinwald were hitting the Twins hard and started up the BB Club. It was the start of a long term friendship and a bit of a rivalry that went on between the two groups. I still love hearing the stories of how, after catching a big brown, they would often pull up alongside each other’s boats and hoist a big brown to “burn” the other guys. This is part of the fun the club members enjoy....nothing like a “good burn!”

During the mid-70’s, Flaming Gorge was just coming on as the premier big brown trout “factory” of the country and both the Wyoming and Utah State records were soon exceeding 30 LB. Jim and his brother Bob started making trips to fish it a week at a time. On one of the trips, Jim caught two monster browns going 20 and 26 LB. in a week......something almost unheard of these days unless you were fishing the Great Lakes at the right time and even then that would be tough to do! The big trip of that era was when his brother Bob Bringhurst caught the WR brown in March of 1977. The big hen that weighed 33 LB. 10 oz. stood as the WR until around 1990 when Rip Collin’s caught a brown exceeding 40 Lb. from the Red River in Arkansas. Unfortunately, Bob died in a botched attempted hold-up of him in the late 80’s.

Many of the original BB’s members were now making trips to FG on a regular basis and catching both big brown and the lake trout that were slowly infiltrating the big reservoir. Jim would continue fishing FG with regularity until the mid-90’s when it became clear the the bigger browns were becoming extremely rare. His best lake trout came from the gorge and tipped the scales at 34 LB....a big laker from any impoundment!

Jim Bringhurst with his monster 16 lb. 5 oz. brown from Lower Twin Lake, Ca. The hen was caught recently on a #13 skinny Rapala.

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His big trout magic was not just limited to big browns and lakers. He was hearing about the big gerrard rainbows that made Lake Pend Oreille famous and soon thereafter was making the trek to Idaho to fish for them. I remember seeing a photo of him in WON holding up a giant 23 LB. buck gerrard from PO back in the early 90’s. In fact, he has caught 3 over 20 LB. from PO over the years. Jim, John Werwie and I did make a couple of trips to PO during the mid-2000’s and though we didn’t hit any monster bows, we did get into some around 15 LB..

About 4 years ago Jim asked me to make the trip back to Lake Michigan with him. I had already been back there when Mark and I filmed our Lake Michigan DVD and I had planned a trip up to Kootenay that fall so I couldn’t join him. He fished a day or two with guide, Eric Hajata, and after learning the ropes, went out and trolled the area and landed (4) browns over 10 LB. up to his biggest of the trip that was pushing 15 LB.

Jim is a pro-staffer for Berkeley and has been since the 80’s. Probably one of his most prized accomplishments is his standing in the “Elite” group of the Brownbaggers Club where he stands near the top (3rd) with 32 brown trout over 10 LB. That alone is an amazing feat! I am just hoping to get to 10!

I remember getting a call from him a couple of years ago at the end of May. He said he had just lost a monster from Lower twin that was easily in the mid-20 LB. range. It was a tough loss.....he had it to the boat and after fighting it against the wind which was pushing his boat away from the brown, it finally came unbuttoned while he was attempting to net it. I think that fish took some of the “wind out of his sails” and he hasn’t been fishing as much in the years following. Hopefully, he will get back in the saddle soon. He did talk about a trip later this fall after some surgery.

Jim also loved to hit the saltwater when he lived closer to the coast years ago. He has caught Albacore to 30 LB. and Blue fin to 75 LB.

Nowadays, he spends a lot of his time working on his car collection and hitting various car shows around the country. He ands his “honey,”Kathy, make their home in Nevada City, CA.

My hat is off to you my friend........thanks for sharing some of the fishing highlights of your life with TTG.

Tight Lines,

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