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Mount Contest Entry

Marcus Schroers with this killer 10 LB.+ hen brown caught for the second time in less than a year.

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I have only fished with one person that is as protective of a fishing hole as I am, and that is my friend and fishing partner Rafael Rossi. When you fish with a champion that represents the best of a long line of Italian watermen, you never know what might happen. He might catch a fish you weren’t sure existed in that little ditch or puddle. He might show you something, but you better be watching close because he may not tell you exactly how he’s fishing circles around you. There was the time I netted and weighed his 4 largemouth bass for a combined weight of 43.75 pounds, leaving me struggling to catch an 8.75 pounder to round out a 52.5# limit. I netted and weighed a 15.25# bass for him that day, and 2 others over 10 pounds. He caught the first 4 and blacked out my live well while I struggled and mumbled to myself. Just another 50 pound bag for him, but it blew my mind! He keeps to himself to protect his fishing, which is why we’ve gotten along so well up to this point. He’ll be pissed that I named him in this story.

In the days I was commercial fishing in Alaska the old timer Italians would scream “Abbondanza!”, when the nets would plug and start sinking with sockeye in the building tide. It means “Overflowing with abundance”, and anyone who fishes with Rafael is very familiar with this concept.

I had found a hole with some big brown trout in it, and when I took him there I was concerned he would catch one over ten pounds. I’d gotten close but never over the magic mark. He’d gotten me into the brown trout sickness recently and I was working very hard to crack my first over ten. On the way I told him that if he released a brown over 10 pounds I’d pay for the replica mount. I thought it might jinx him.

I just mailed my final payment to Rick’s Trophy Mounts, so now I can tell the story of that 10# 4oz brown he caught. How he screamed “I’m on – ten pounder!!” and I was left scrambling for the net, yet again. That would be a great story, but an even better story is how I re-caught that same fish that he released 6 months later, with the fish now at 10# 9oz!

My wife and I were on “date night”. As we often do, we swung by a fishing spot for a couple throws before dinner. What could be more special? She gets a needed break to read a book away from the needy kids and husband, and I make some whacks.

As the sun faded away, and the moon rose, the water came alive. I quickly caught a crusty old rainbow on the plug, and then on the next cast had a missed strike in the fairly turbid water. I was ripping the plug violently, so I switched to a slow and steady retrieve to help the fish not miss. It worked on the first cast! I felt the familiar “DOINK!” and quickly set the hook… the fish just wallowed for a second like big fish often do, then started heading deep. At first I thought I may have foul hooked the fish because it was SO HEAVY! I carefully lifted the fish and got my first look at the bar of gold, the plug square in its’ jaws, and immediately started screaming for my wife who was up in the truck. She came running, and I told her to hold the net half way in the water and I’d slide the fish in, and to lift when I yelled lift!!! I was up on a boulder and couldn’t climb down safely without giving the fish some slack, and I wasn’t about to do that!

What felt like an hour later I was able to wear the fish down enough to get it to slide into the net. Having not fished with Rafael, my wife is not a net pro, so I didn’t want her stabbing for it. I didn’t want this incredible moment to end with a lost fish and divorce court. Finally the moment came, I screamed “LIFT!!” and she got it!! I quickly climbed down from the boulder I was on, with a stammering voice and heaving chest. The fish looked HUGE! I bear hugged and sloppily kissed my wife, and then got the fish back in the water in the rubber net as I got the scale and camera ready.

As I drove my wife to dinner, chuckling and yammering like a lunatic, I called Rafael to thank him for the release. I love date night!


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