We had invited some dear old friends from California to come up and visit us this summer while we were down there this past winter. We have known Chuck and Norma Bunch for over 30 years and this was their first time up to stay with us for a week. I had promised Chuck I would get him out for a shot at what I thought would be his biggest brown trout. I didn’t think it would be that difficult as his PB was a 2.5 LB. brown from the Tule River, outside of Porterville, from several years ago. Little did we know that he would catch one much bigger than that!
Chuck with the best brown of our trip. The big hookjaw went over 9 LB. and was released after this photo. They don't get any more colorful than this nice male!
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We headed up to East for a two day stay at one of the cabins we rented from Dave and Kathy Jones at East Lake Resort. BTW, thanks for the great deal and wonderful stay we had while there!! We didn’t get much of an early start as we still needed to get Chuck a license and a few more goodies that first morning. I think we determined that we were finally out fishing around 8:30 that first morning. The lake was already loaded with boats as is often the case this time of year.
Fishing was a little slow and after scattering a couple of small browns, Chuck finally caught his best brown to date with a short, fat brown that was pushing right up to the 5 LB. mark on my Boga-Grip scale. We were both elated and to do so early in the trip is a nice bonus, especially if fishing gets tougher. We headed in soon thereafter for a meal as noon approached. We also needed to put our stuff away in the cabin. It was then we found out that the resort café was not open on Tues. or Wed. anymore. East Lake Resort café is open for breakfast and lunch everyday but Tues. and Wed. so keep that in mind if you are up there for a stay. Plan B called for us to head over to Paulina Lake for lunch at Todd and Karen Brown’s restaurant. Later that evening we doubled back for hamburgers' before we headed out for the evening bite at East. It was pretty slow and I think we only had a couple of strikes and finally we gave up around 9:00 with determined attitudes to nail some big trout tomorrow!
The next morning we hit one of my favorite spots right out of the gate around 5:00 a.m. With enough trout showing on the graph, we hung in there until mid morning getting into a good bite on smaller browns from 15 in. up to a couple a little over 20 in. I believe we counted 10 trout caught and released before 9:30 a.m....not a bad morning at all! After a lot of laps in that general area, we finally made a move to work some other waters where the trout hadn’t seen our lures that morning.
Chuck did get into a nice male brown that was close to 4 LB. and then right before we were getting off that morning for breakfast, I had a good hit. We were making a slow turn and the outside rod was in my hand as I was about to start the retrieve, when it went down. I set the hook and was into what I knew was a nice fish almost immediately. After a short workout, I finally had him up near the top and in the flat clear water his size was magnified a bit. We netted him and the fat male turned out to weigh right around 7 LB. I measured him and he was just under 25 in. A real fatty male and that is an exception to usual gender body frames among the trout species. It is almost always the females that get fatter and the males that are longer and leaner. There are always exceptions to the rules as was the case this time. It was perfect timing as we were both tired and hungry so it was a no-brainer to head in to the café.
After a much needed nap ( us seniors love them), we decided to get a little trolling in that afternoon before our dinner run to Paulina a little later that evening. As we headed back to the same general area we had caught the bigger male brown from earlier that morning, I had to decide the route I would take to pass a wind drifting kokanee angler that sat there jigging right in our trolling run. I gave him the inside and worked out around him and as we started a turn to keep the depth we desired, the rigger rod hammered out of the release as hard as I had seen in years. The drag was screaming and as I got to the rod, we both saw the big brown get three feet into the air in a massive jump right to the side of the kokanee angler who now was positioned right directly behind us a little over 200 feet away with his mouth hanging open! As the brown took off, I handed the rod to Chuck and said “ Here you go.....this is a big brown!”
The angler starting yelling something to us I couldn’t make out until I shut down the kicker to enjoy the battle that was ensuing. It was then I could finally make out what he was saying. Seems that his kokanee jig and line was now entangled with our line and the big brown. I pleaded with him to do nothing and open his bail as to not put any pressure on our line or the trout. He seemed to heed our plea and sat back to see if we would land this big brown. As luck, and maybe a little skill would have it, we finally had him up within 50 feet on the linecounter and we could make him out down behind us in the flat clear water.....he was a nice big male hookjaw! After we had him on a couple of tiring runs before we tried to net him, I could make out the pink jig wrapped around our line. Finally sliding the net under the toad, we both breathed a sigh of relief. I managed to get the jig out of the net and busted it off and had the guy reel up his line. He later came to our boat to retrieve the jig.
I weighed the big boy in the net and he pulled the scale in my 4 LB. net to 13.5 LB. That netted him out to right around 9.5 LB. and we estimated him at between 28-29 In. He was only superficially wounded from the hooks so I wanted to get him back right away. After filming a short video of the release, we decided it was time for dinner and headed in. It was more than I could have hoped to put my friend on such a nice brown and as you can see, he was as beautiful as brown trout get!
After dinner we had one good strike that didn’t produce and then hung in there until we felt it was pretty much over. As the sun dropped behind the saddle between the hills, we enjoyed the wispy pink clouds that the sun exposed as she dropped over the horizon.
The next morning produced a couple of smaller browns early and then after a slow period we finally caught a long lean hen around 4 LB. and that was our trip as Chuck needed to get back into town for a planed family get together later that day in John Day. It was a trip we would both remember!