Lucky old Dink finally breaks the 30 year curse.....11.5 Lb. hen......number 6 for him!! Congrats man!
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This is an article I was hoping I would get to write some day. When I first met John back in 2003, we hit it off right away. Our Brownbagger memberships brought us together back at Paulina Lake that Spring. As we conversed, I asked him when he caught his last brown over 10. His reply was way back on Mothers Day, 1987. Apparently, his mother didn’t appreciate his planned fishing trip that weekend so we then came up with the “Mothers Day Curse”and it stuck until it ended on May, 7 2017. After almost 30 years, we both kept the faith that it would eventually end but you never really know. He has caught so many browns in the 8-9 Lb. range we wondered if he would ever cross the finish line!
In my Trophy Trout Profiles, he was always a candidate but he said not until he breaks the curse. Well, here we go.....The story of John Werwie’s quest for big browns and the death of the curse! It all started for him back in the mid-70’s when he read several articles about Ray Johnson and his exploits at Flaming Gorge. At that time, the Gorge was going off on monster browns whose weights were creeping up toward 30 Lbs.! It was the hottest big brown trout destination on the planet! When fellow Brownbagger and good friend, Jim Bringhurst’s brother, Bob, caught the World Record brown in the Spring of 1978 the bar was set at 33 Lbs. 10 oz. It is a record that stood for many years.
That was the final straw. John took off for the Gorge that Spring with good buddy, Smokey, with visions of monster browns dancing in his head. It turned out he was pretty lucky and hit his first 10 that March, 1978. His next trip to the Gorge was April 1980 and he nailed a 15 LB. hen and was now eligible for the Brownbagger Club. His final trip to the gorge was with his dad in the spring of 1981 and though they didn’t hit any double digits, he wasn’t done there!
In the mid-80’s his attention turned to another lake that became a favorite. On June 6th, 1985 he hit his “jackpot” brown.....the 17 LB. hookjaw was a dream brown that still stands at the top of his list. To most of us this is a true “fish of a lifetime!” A mount of it hangs on his den wall and another in a bar near the lake. He was rolling now....the 80’s were good to him. His next big brown was a 13 Lb. hen that hit on a cloudy, drizzling day in Oct.,1985. His count was now up to 4 over 10 and he wasn’t done yet. On Mothers Day of 1987 he landed what would be his last Brownbagger fish for 29 years and 358 days. The 11 Lb. hen was his final until May 7th, 2017, a day we will both never forget!
It wasn’t just his luck either....his boat accounted for several double digits for many of his buddies too. Bob Brown caught an 11 Lb. hen in the spring of 1981 while they were on a trip to Lower Twin. Good buddy, Smokey, nailed an 11 Lb. hen in the Spring of 1986 on a trip to his favorite lake. The list goes on as brother-in-law, Bill, got an 11 LB. hen in 1989 and cousin, Wes, caught a killer hookjaw close to 12 Lbs. at Paulina in the fall of 2003.
As I mentioned earlier, when we first met we really hit it off and we were anxious to fish together. Our first planned trip would be to Pend Oreille that following spring. We journeyed up to the Idaho Panhandle that fall with Jim Bringhurst, in pursuit of the monster gerrard rainbows that make the lake famous. Over the last 14 years we have experienced some of the best trophy trout fishing you can imagine. After a few trips to Pend Oreille, we decided to sample the waters of Kootenay Lake up in BC. Our first trip in 2007 was not that productive but John caught gerrards going 10 and 11 Lbs. We knew the potential was there for some monsters given its history so we pounded it every year right up until our last trip in the fall of 2013. On my birthday this year, John presented me with a cool photo album. On the cover it stated, “The 20/20 Club” that represented the 20 rainbows over 10 Lbs. we each had caught during the 10 years of fishing Pend Oreille and Kootenay from 2003 to 2013. It was really cool and I had never given any thought to how many over 10 Lbs. we each had caught....we were actually looking for the 20’s! John finally caught a 22 Lb. hen one Spring at Kootenay and that was the best of our rainbow tally. We have also fished all over the West chasing browns each Spring and Fall and mostly in Oregon and California. We still enjoy fishing together and most of our trips are now are in pursuit of the big browns!
Fast forward to this Spring.....we were originally planning on three weeks this year but a leak in the camper roof slowed us down to 19 days after John addressed that issue. We were fishing in Central Oregon and on our second visit to Crescent Lake, lightening struck in a crazy way on Sunday, May 7th a week before the 30th anniversary of the Mother Day Curse! It was later that morning when my rod popped out of the rigger release. Thinking it was probably a laker, I didn’t give it much thought until we caught color about 20 feet down. From looking at their backs from above, a laker and a brown are tough to distinguish until you can see the tails. Browns have flat, square tails and the lakers are forkies as I call them. I was blown away when I knew this was a nice brown. I was not sure at first that it would top 10 but thought it might. After a short battle, John slid the net under the heavily spotted hen and we were both pretty sure I had another over 10 Lbs. She was right around 10.25 on my Boga-grip and that confirmed what we thought.
It was a little bitter sweet as I was hoping this would be the trip that John got one. Of course I was elated, but it was a mixed bag. Over all these years we fished together, neither of us had caught a brown over 10 Lb. until I hit one last Fall at Paulina. After our lunch and nap, we went out later that afternoon. Early that evening at 5:30, suddenly John’s rod is out of the release and the drag going off. He can’t hear as well as I can and I alerted him and he was up and on it! Again we assumed it might be a laker but as he got it up I could see the silvery back and sides and the tail confirmed it was a brown. We could tell for sure she was over 10 before we even got her in the net!! We high fived and hooted and hollered before we took several shots of her. I remembered to take some video during the release and you can see that here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Trophy-Trout-Guide-134281399932816/posts/
Finally, the curse has ended! After all these years, he boated his 6th brown trout over 10 Lbs. This is a trip we will remember forever!
When I was working on this article I asked him if he wanted me to say anything else about the moment, he said yeah, tell them to never fish on Mother’s Day.....and now you know why!