Doesn't get much better than this.....12 Lb.+ brown.....Merry Christmas! Steve Kroll was the "hot" stick!
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This time of year our choices are severely limited here in Central Oregon. For one, most of our lakes have an Oct. 31 closure on all fishing and for another, because winter usually limits access to the few that do remain open.
Crescent Lake has always been one of my favorites. My second brown trout over 10 LB., which gained me entry into the Brownbaggers, came from its waters while fishing with Steve Kelly back in the spring of 2000. With brown trout, Lakers and rainbows, it offers more variety of large trout than many of our lakes.
Right before Christmas, Steve Kroll and I decided to make a trip down from Bend while weather was still favorable. Usually snow will limit access but the lack thereof this year has allowed for us to still fish a few of the higher lakes. LBC is almost always available but my years of guiding there allowed me to get more than my share of large bull trout. I still hit it a few times a year but not as often anymore. My favorite pursuits of trophy trout are large browns and the big gerrards of Pend Oreille and Kootenay lakes.
We didn’t get out all that early as the temps had some ice on the road and we had the whole day. It was supposed to be a cloudy morning with a 20% chance of rain showers in the afternoon. We had an ideal light breeze as we pulled out from the dock in front of the resort. We made the decision to go hit one of our most productive areas for browns and made the run instead of working the resort area.....it paid off in spades!
As we lined up for our run, Steve decided to set back and enjoy his cup of coffee so he put out a 5 in. Lyman and put the rod in the holder. Feeling a little more ambitious, I decided to work one of the favorite stick baits from my side. We had come through some good structure and were making a turn when Steve’s rod pumps hard from a good strike. I didn’t see the hit but Steve did and was on it immediately. We both knew it was a good fish but thought probably a laker given the way the fight started. I cleared my rod and moved us out over a little deeper water. Steve has been messing around with different equipment these past few years and had bought a “Knucklebuster” reel and a long and limber Berkley Buzz Ramsey model rod to accentuate the fight. He had his hands full with this fish!
It took him awhile to get the trout coming and we still thought it was a laker the way it dogged it......plenty of weight but didn't run......at least not yet! When he finally got her within 30-40 feet of the boat we could make out some color but, since they can often be identical colors to lakers, we still didn’t know yet. Then she rolled on top and I could make out the square tail of the brown trout.....game on! She shot back straight behind the boat and rolled again on top before shooting off on another nice run. Steve’s reel was spinning from the exertion on the heavy brown.
When he finally had her close and I was waiting with the net, we knew for sure she was easily over 10 LB. In my net, she pulled my Boga-Grip to 16.5 LB. and that nets the fish weight to 12.5 LB. After some high fives and a couple of good photos, Steve slid her back. That all took place in the first 20 minutes we were out.
As it turned out, that was our only bite that morning. The rain and wind moved in and conditions eroded throughout the day. We had several rainbows pop out and arch across the sky so I got some photos of a few. I think it would be fair to say that Steve got this beautiful “pot of gold” from the end of one of those rainbows!