Don Glasser sent us this photo of his big bull from the Clark Fork River.
Click to view image
I was alone, standing waist deep in the Clark Fork, fishing with a big stonefly nymph and a small mayfly nymph dropper. I had hooked several whitefish in just a few minutes, so I shifted downstream a few feet and tried to fish the deeper, somewhat slower water, looking for trout. I quickly hooked a trout that jumped immediately about 10 or 15 feet in front of me and then dived to the bottom. I saw him clearly, and I am certain the size of that first fish was about 12 to 14 inches. Immediately, I thought I had hung up on something on the bottom, because putting pressure on the fish had no effect. Then I felt two heavy surges out into the current, showing that whatever I had on was moving around. Thinking back, I am certain that the smaller fish took the mayfly nymph and then dragged the stonefly nymph in front of the bigger trout, which grabbed it and quickly broke off the smaller fish on the dropper fly. The switch was seamless from my perspective, but there is no other explanation.
In the first minutes I was completely perplexed over what had happened, but as time passed, it became very clear I had hooked a very large fish. I was still trying to process the puzzle of having seen an average size trout, yet feeling a great weight on my line. After about five minutes I started to work back towards shore in hopes that I could get the fish out of the current, but he would have none of that. With steady pressure I worked him toward me, but each time he peeled out line again, not in a screaming run like a bonefish, but in a series of unstoppable 10 foot surges until I was into my backing. I worked my way onto the ankle deep sand bar that overlooks the deep part of the hole and played the fish from there. I would pull him in until only 12 feet of leader and tippet were off the end of my rod, and then he would run it out all the way to the backing, and we would start all over again. My mind was going crazy, first thinking he was 18", then well over 20", then wondering if what I had on was really even a fish. After 45 minutes I saw my strike indicator for the first time, which was just 4 to 5 feet from the fish, and then he took off again. I still hadn't seen the fish!
At about 50 minutes I saw my indicator again, tried to lift the fish up with my rod tip, and he accommodated by rising to the surface. In my life I had never seen such a trout! My first impression was that he was a rainbow, and then he raced off again almost to my backing. Over the following 15 minutes I worked him back in and side stepped my way to a shallow rock bar about 100 yards from where I first hooked him. As I eased him into the shallow water, he gave up, and I lifted him with both hands onto the very gradual cobble shoreline, realizing at that moment that what I had caught was a bull trout.
As quickly as I could, I measured him and took some hurried photos with my cell phone. I lifted him back into the water and held him while he recovered. Just before I released him to swim slowly back into the hole, I lifted him from behind one last time and planted a big kiss on top of his head.
My mind went a thousand places during that fight. Iím not a religious person, but I learned how to pray in just a little over an hour! After I released him I left immediately, barely making it up the hill to my car.