Without fail my modus operandi is to catch my best fish of the day in the eleventh hour, and this beauty was no exception. Patrick, Marjie and I fished hard all day, squeezing in every last cast until the sun started to slip away and the cold settled into the bones of the mountains. Knowing the darkness was drawing near, I sight cast to this lady – not knowing just how big she was.

She fought hard, boy did she fight, and more than once we thought we would lose her, especially with as much line as she had run through. In the words of Patrick, “she knew her snags, down trees, mossy undercuts, and showed them all to us.” I suppose the big ones always do – that’s why landing them is so challenging and so rewarding.

Towards the end of the fight, I slipped back down into the water, trying to prevent her from totally disappearing around the bend and breaking me off, my arm fatigued and struggling to stay high. Patrick took off down the bank too, trying to head her off, and when I heard his joyful holler, I knew we had finally landed her.

In trying to net her, he found out long before I did, that she was a fish of a different caliber. Huddled around the net, all three of us couldn’t help but be in sheer awe of her size and girth. Learning to fight and land big fish is a skill I’ve been working hard on, and being able to land this fish because of previous mistakes I’ve made (albeit heartbreaking at the time), made this visit just a little bit sweeter.

Photos Provided by the talented Patrick Duke. You can find him on Instagram @Artandangling
Also be sure to check out Jessica on Instagram @jjbenson