Scott Hopper holding a 31 inch German Brown Trout he caught in fishing the Truckee River in early January. (Photo courtesy of Rory Lunsford)
We have all had a time in our lives when we want to do something so badly, all reasoning gets washed down the river. Well this happened to me at the start of 2010, when Rory Lunsford, a fishing buddy called, and asked me to take him back to a spot I had taken him to in the past. I know and love this section of the Truckee River and my kids gave me a new rod for Christmas that needed to be tested.
My alarm went off that day at 4 a.m., we agreed to meet at the Grass Valley Kmart parking lot at 4:45 a.m.. When you agree to take someone fishing at 4 a.m. not to mention in the middle of winter at an elevation of 6000 ft, your bed is the last place you want to leave, but an agreement between fishermen is stronger than the four pound test line on my Shimano spinning reel. I’m up, coffee consumed, and in my truck 15 minutes later.
We both arrived as planned and we were off to the City of Truckee. I could tell Rory was excited to get his line wet by the way he told me about his latest Eagle Lake fishing trip, filled with all the usual “fish stories.”
Before I get too far into my tale, I just want to let you know that I am going to be vague about the usual fisherman stuff. And so will Rory.
I had a plan to park the car in my usual spot but since it was the middle of the winter I called the Highway Patrol in Truckee the day before, to find out how high the snow banks were. I was told by the officer that the road I have used in the past was closed, so when we arrived at the secret spot, we parked and walked in the dark of night, almost being hit by a train, for 35 minutes through snow up to our knees.
We arrived at the landmark of two lone pine trees along the bank of the treacherous river . My boots and pants were already wet, it was 28 degrees and dawn was still 20 minutes away.
The section of river we were fishing is an artificial only with barb-less hooks. I’m sure there is a law about keeping fish, but I have not kept a fish in years so it is irrelevant to me and anyone who goes with me. I unhooked my artificial lure from a rod eyelet that has multiple barb-less hooks and I always use 4 pound test line. I cast into the fast white water and let the lure drift into the deep hole on the far side of the river. I have fished here many times and know that the only time you will catch a quality fish is between false dawn and sun up. It was starting to get light and I could see it was going to be a cold and cloudy day with some low lying fog .
Everything was perfect. I was about 30 yards above Rory when my lure drifted into the same hole again. My line had a tug so I tugged back to set the barb-less hooks deep into the fish. I kept the line tight for the next 10 minutes. When the fish had made its first run I yelled at Rory, “I have a big one!” and asked for his assistance in landing and taking a photo. I knew it was that kind of fish by the weight and the swirls it made on the surface of the river.
As the fish moved into shallow water I could see that it was a brown trout. I said “wow its huge!” Rory did a great job of grabbing the fish by the tail without falling into the icy water. Once he had control of the monster, I grabbed it from him and placed it next to my rod so I could measure it later that day. Rory took a great photo of me holding the largest German brown trout of my life that measured 31 inches. I let it go back into the river from which it came for someone else to catch.
We fished for the next 4 hours but as I know on the Truckee once the sun is up its time to go. As we talked and fished back toward the car, I heard a crack of the ice shelf below my feet. It gave way and the next thing I knew, I was waist deep in the icy water. I was still buzzing from the only fish that either one of us had on that day, so being wet and cold did not bother me.
The moral of the story is, when a friend asks you to do something with him, do it no matter how crazy it sounds. Rory, thank you for the largest brown trout of my life.