I have been traveling to the Rockies for many years on trips looking for big fish. I always do my planning ahead of each fishery I visit by checking reports and tying up everything I might need for that specific area.
This year, we decided to change it up and go to the San Juan River to check out new waters and I wasn’t expecting to be tangling with any really big fish. On a cold Saturday morning, I’d been catching several really nice rainbows including a beautiful 24″ bow.
Here I am on working my way up a long slow run and I see this MASSIVE shadow. I had been fishing my 5 weight, 6x tippet with size 22 midges. I quickly change my rig over to 5x, a Sparkle SJJ, with a larger Phlamin Pheasant Tail dropper. 3-4 drifts later, we hook up and he rolls away from me – it’s huge and it’s gold! He hunkers down in the deep part of the run and there was no turning him at that point. 4-5 minutes later, he starts to get tired out and I begin slowly and carefully working him over to the soft water. Luckily there was a little chute coming in the side of this run so I was able to corral him where I was able to net him solo.
My little brother comes rushing up and low and behold, it’s the brown of my dreams – taped at 30″. And of course… He took the worm.
After all my years fly fishing, I’d started to think I’d never hit that magic 30″ number. Then bam, it happens on a weekend when I least expected it.
That’s the key to big fish. Get all that situational practice in, and never stop hunting. It will eventually pay off!
Article and photos from Brad Besset, @bradbesset.