I headed to fly tying class tonight. Our first fly was a Rabbit Matuka streamer. I was amazed at how similar it was to a Slumpbuster. The 2nd pattern was a basic comparadun, which I already knew how to tie. After the demo, I bolted out of class before I could tie the 2nd pattern, in search of some trout willing to take a Terrestrial around 8pm. I hit a local stream that was near my class (sorry, not spot-burning this one) and walked it for 20 minutes trying to find a fish that would take a hopper.
I had a few rises from fish checking them out, but nothing would take. I went back up to a pool that is notorious for good trico hatches. I passed it on the way down and saw no bug action, no rises, and no fish. When I got back to there again, I saw a single fish that was rising every 45 seconds or so. It was starting to get dark and this hole had a ton of shade from the trees, but I could tell by the dark shape under the water that this was definitely not some stocked 8 inch fish. It looked big. It didn't want anything to do with my hopper, so I knew I had to change flies if I had any shot at it.
With no bugs in the air, I busted out the 8X tippet and took a guess. I tied on a size 16 caddis dry, followed by a size 22 black CDC midge emerger, fished dry. He took the midge on the first cast. I'm guessing he took it as a trico emerger. Using the small tippet, I had no shot of landing this beast if I horsed it. I let him have his way. He ran me about half a football field upstream and had me into backing. Every time he got close enough to land, he made another run. Luckily, a fellow angler who was fishing on the other side of the stream saw the fish and realized that I was going to have a tough time landing him on my own. He dropped his rod, waded across the stream, and netted the fish for me.
It was probably the biggest brown I've ever landed. He was just short of 2 feet long, and really wide. I was shocked that I actually brought him to hand. He looked 100% wild to me, but you never know.. A two foot fish on a size 22 fly just blows my mind. The only downside was that the guy who helped me land him took two pictures. The first one includes my head, but is blurry. The 2nd is clear, but my head is cut off. Oh well. I won't be hanging an 8x10 of this on the wall of my man cave bar, but it's still a pretty damn good story to tell.