We set the trip for July. After just two months of learning how to fly fish, I was nervous. Tyler (IG: @thetugisthedrug) had talked about how aggressive and strong these bull trout were and I felt like I was unprepared. We kept going out trying to get my skills up to par, but it is hard to prepare for bull trout strength with any other fish here in Utah.
The day finally came and we made the long journey to the special Bull trout spot. When we got there we had to check out the river. It was different than I expected and the river was smaller than I thought with the size of fish that were in there.
The first day we checked out a few spots and found a hole that had a few bulls just sitting and decided to stay a while. We split up the hole and tried to find what they were eating.
After about an hour of fishing, Tyler hooked into one and I went running down the river to net the fish. It was a small river and I was not used to netting that size of fish, but I managed to get him in there and had a few seconds to take in the sight before Tyler walked over to me. We were both stoked and I was hopeful once again to get one of my own.
Another hour went by, and finally, my indicator shot back upstream. I set the hook and felt the power of the bull on the other end. Tyler got him in the net pretty quick. He was smaller than the first but just as cool! We took a quick snap and let him go.
The day followed with a few more fish for us both including my biggest catch at about 28 inches! We had an awesome day and I couldn’t wait for day two.
My excitement that had built up for the next day slowly dwindled as hours had gone by and I was left empty-handed. Tyler stopped at three fish and let me take over in hopes I would catch the next one. I hooked five different fish and each one managed to come unbuttoned, despite my best efforts. Nothing was working and I was getting frustrated.
The decision was made to try out a new spot at about 6 pm and see if we could find some more cooperative bulls. We drove down and found a promising looking run with a nice deep hole in the tail out.
We moved up into a good position to drift the run and went right at it. Within 10 casts my indicator dropped and I set the hook with all I had. As an intense battle unfurled, Tyler was downstream, ready with the net. I managed to get him away from a massive log jam on the near bank and he was headed downstream towards Tyler. Just as his head was swinging into the net, I felt the line go slack and my flies jerk back towards me. After all that effort all I felt was heartbreak as I watched him jet back upstream. I was ready to give up.
Determined not to be skunked, I hiked back up to the massive fallen tree that I had been drifting from and cast into the setting sun. Just as I had given up all hope, I watched my indicator plummet. I set hard and prayed it would hold. Little did I know I was in for the most epic battle of my life. The fish shot upstream and back down again effortlessly. I worked to keep him out of all the structure on the banks and maneuvered my way down from the giant tree I was standing on. My heart pounded and I held my breath as I saw a massive bully inch closer and closer to the net after each run. After what felt like an eternity, Tyler darted forward and scooped his head into the net with a triumphant yell.
Relief and euphoria surged through me as I ran over to see the beautiful bull. It may not have been as big as the one from the day before but he was by far my favorite one from the trip. I was humbled and grateful for such an amazing experience. Journeys and stories like this are what make me fall in love with fly fishing more and more with every experience. After snapping a few quick photos and giving him a proper revival, I watched as he rode off into the sunset, waving with each stroke of his tail and painting a permanent picture into my mind of a summer night that I will never forget.
Brooke Hunter is a flyfisher out of the great state of Utah! Be sure to check her out on Instagram @brooke_likethetrout for more awesome content!
Be sure to check out our other posts about the insane power of the Bull Trout!