My exposure to trout fishing while growing up was mostly with a small hand me down rod, snelled hooks, a Folgers can full of worms I dug up the night before, and a zip lock baggie full of corn. I would get dropped off early in the morning at the stream on opening day by my parents and meet up with some friends from school to fish a tiny little stream that got so warm by the first week of June that all the trout would die. They would jam this little 150 yard section full of fish, and people would just be lined up, pulling them out left and right. It was the definition of put n' take.
This was in the late 80s and back then, they only stocked 1 or 2 Palominos in the entire stretch of stream. I remember that everyone coveted those things and you were the hero in school the following Monday if it was you that got lucky enough to
But usually, it was the serious guy that caught it. You know the guy I'm talking about. The one that took a half day at work the day before opening day, got to the stream at 1pm on a Friday (even though season didn't start until 8am on Saturday), set up his tent right in front of the hole that had the golden monster, had every single piece of gear imaginable, and would be standing in the middle of the 15 foot wide stream at 4am in chest waders (even though the stream was literally 2 feet deep), 4 hours before the whistle sounded to cast in your line. His sole purpose in life was to get that fish every year, and piss off every single little kid who had a dream of catching the big Pally.
Needless to say, I never caught one, and after a while, I just gave up. I got more into bass fishing and all but forgot about trout. I'd catch a rainbow on occasion while fishing for other species, but never paid any attention to it. I still admit though, part of me has always been pissed off that I've never caught one when I was younger.
As I got more into fly fishing I've come to realize that, like all of you, I prefer to catch wild fish. They are much more beautiful, usually put up a better fight, and are much more challenging to hook. When I see a Pally now, I don't even cast at it. I honestly feel bad for them. They are born and bred to be tortured. They are a moving target for the Powerbait crew and spend their days dodging chunks of Velveeta wedged onto a monster Eagle Claw hook.
Well, my time has come. I noticed a pair of really nice rainbows, probably about 17-18 inches, picking up nymphs behind some fallen branches. I chucked a size 18 Pheasant Tail with an egg trailer towards them. I watched the bigger of the two bows turn around and starting to rush the egg. I'm ready to set the hook the second he hits and I feel my line shoot out before the bow takes it. I set the hook and SPLASH!!! A Palomino comes out of nowhere, takes the egg, and shoots about a foot out of the water trying to throw the hook. After that though, he gave up and came in with ease. After 30 years of fishing, I finally landed my first Palomino. It was honestly pretty anticlimactic, and not at all what I had envisioned 25 years ago, but that was probably because he was only 12 inches long! :)
Oh well, I guess it's something to cross off the bucket list. After that fish, I actually continued to have a very successful night. A nice Caddis hatch came off right as the fog was rolling in and the sun was disappearing, and my size 18 CDC + Elk Caddis absolutely slayed the fish.(Mental note - make a post about that pattern because it works very well.) It was one of those nights where I was in a zen-like state. You could hear fish rising, but you couldn't see anything so it was all blind casting and setting the hook by feel. I wound up with another 3 or 4 in the pitch black darkness before the rises finally stopped.
Overall, a hell of a night. And I do admit, I feel like I conquered something while walking back to the car in the dark. It might only have been 12 inches of something, but I'll take it.