My infatuation with bull trout started a little over a year ago. A mysterious fish that grows to immense size. They inhabit pure waters in wild places. Besides their size and the beautiful places where they’re found, there were two other characteristics that pulled me in. The first was their sheer beauty. To me it doesn’t get any better than the char family and bull trout are definitely no exception. The second thing that captivated me was their notoriously aggressive nature.

My homie, Derek, comes from bully country and it wasn’t long before a trip was in the works. Unfortunately I’d have to wait a whole year to meet one of these predators in person. We tied big, nasty flies in preparation in preparation for the bullies, as well as a myriad of other bugs to meet the needs of the other fish we’d be pursuing. What started as a bully trip turned into a week-long trip chasing trout of all shapes and sizes in all sorts of beautiful places.

Day 1. With the car packed up with camping gear, a ton of rods, and everything else you’d need to fish like mad for a week, we began our journey. We passed the time talking fish as Derek tied flies. We arrived to our first destination as it began to get dark. We squashed our original plan to toss big bugs in the dark and decided to get some grub and hit the hay.  We’d start the trip off with energy. It was to be a long week.
car packed with fishing and camping gear

I felt like running, I was so stoked. Today was to be a day chasing big bows at a place we dubbed “Jurassic Lake”. The name is very fitting because like its namesake – it holds very large fish. I’d seen pictures and none of the fish were under 21 inches. However, it was already mid-July and I was a little nervous that this stillwater would show us who’s boss. We began casting and my nervousness grew as the weeds were a constant nuisance. As I attempted to find weed-free water I was amazed by the amount of bug life in these fertile waters. Scuds scurried about and congregated on my waders. Dozens of damselflies fluttered off bushes along the bank as we made our way through to find the right spot. We found what looked like a promising piece of water: there were less weeds and what looked like a good cruising zone.

I reassured myself that though fishing was tough, it was very possible that one fish would make it all worth the stop. The only sign of fish was the very occasional rise and a cruiser that we saw swim buy at a leisurely pace. Now, I’ve seen cruisers and I’ve seen some big cruisers; all of which get me super excited. But this fish was the BIGGEST trout I had ever seen. I literally could not believe my eyes. We tossed in it’s cruising path with no results. I stood their shaking.

Derek was the first to hook up. The fish wasn’t quite as feisty as I’d imagine in the Spring or Fall, but it definitely was easier on the nerves than bringing a fish back from your backing through sporadic death traps of thick weeds. The fish still showed some power but I soon netted the first fish of the trip. A beautiful silvery female looked up at me. Her rosy gill-plate glistened in the sun. Dang, nice fish! We snapped a few pics and sent her on her way. We estimated that she was around 24 inches and probably 3 or 4 pounds.  Not too shabby.
first bow of the trip

It was about twenty minutes later that my indicator tanked – an image that will be burned into my memory forever. The feeling of seeing your indicator tank when fishing waters like this especially exhilarating because that split-second before the hookset is filled with excitement and anticipation of just how big the will be. I set the hook and was met with the strongest pull I’d felt since Alaska when I was younger. The power was simply incredible. Although my flyline sliced through the water, it couldn’t keep up with the monster flash I saw below. To my relief the runs were relatively short, but the power was undeniable. I screamed and giggled like a little girl. I knew that this was finally the fish I was looking for. For the last year or so I’d be actively pursuing a fish over 24″ and this fish was without a doubt over that mark. I prayed that my 3x tippet would hold up as I did my best to keep this beast from ending my excitement in one of the many large masses of weeds. After an epic battle, we got the gorgeous slab of rainbow love into the net and I yelled in excitement and relief. What a fish. And not a bad way to start out the trip.
huge rainbow trout

About The Author

Chinese Boy

The ringleader at OSF, Nathan likes well-proportioned fish, moonlit walks by the river, and stripping streamers through dark lies on the dreariest of days. View full bio.

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