By Brett Coffman

It was late fall in 2009 when I was approaching one of my favorite holes along my favorite river. The leaves were turning fiery yellow, mist was rising from the water, and I had spent more time happily admiring my surroundings than actively fishing. After a few smaller fish I was eager to come to this larger and more volumous pool. My pulse quickened as I rounded the corner, but was just as soon let down to find 2 people already there. After whispering a few choice words under my breath I decided to pass them by and fish further upstream since they were only shore fishing with spinners.

As I approached, an overly enthusiastic man gave a friendly howdy and the typical “Catchin' Any?” greeting. Gosh that eats at me! While the river is public domain - most of these people had recently moved here with the boom in the housing market. And now the subsequent bust has left thousands unemployed with nothing to do during the weekdays when I take MY days off. I gathered myself, smiled, and told him I caught a few earlier. My response was barely all out before the man, beaming with pride, told me to go look at the brown his girlfriend caught. Now I was irritated. I muttered something of how they’re beginning to spawn and should be released, but that of course fell on deaf ears. So, obliging the two, I walked back downstream about a 100 ft. to where he told me the fish was tethered. I approached quietly and at first didn’t see anything but a lone crawdad. Then the familiar fish form materialized in front of the crayfish. About the time I saw the brown, he also saw me. Around 23” it was definitely a nice fish, certainly one that needs to pass on his genes to future progeny. The fish started bucking and pulling at his leash. His muscles strongly contracting for the freedom of the main current. I looked at what was holding him back - a long piece of ~6lb. monofilament tied to a tree branch. One more strong jerk and the mono snapped. The fish slid slowly and quietly into the depths - the way big fish do when you spook them, and you know you’ll never see them again. I smiled then bolted upstream past the couple. “That’s a really nice fish” was my comment as I quickly moved on crossing the river and wading out of sight. I often wonder if they thought I released their catch. But if they happen to be reading this now, know this, don’t use light line for a stringer! Brown Trout - 1 Couple - 0.