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Monday, October 14, 2013

27" Brown 11 Mile Canyon

Because the water is so depressingly low right now, and I can't fish 11 Mile Canyon at a flow of 22 cfs with a clean conscience, I was sitting here looking through some old photos and videos taking a stroll down memory lane.  One of my favorite memories fly-fishing just so happened to be recorded on video thanks to my good friend Chris Holman, and I still get chills watching and reliving the experience! Here is the story...

My fishing pals from Arkansas came to Colorado during fall 2008 to hunt for trophy fish. We hit all of the usual places including the Dream Stream, and the Taylor Catch and Release. During this week of hog hunting we landed some gorgeous fish, but expectations were high and we didn't land that "holy crap" fish many anglers dream of, the one we were after. That is, not until the last day of the trip in the last place any of us expected...

For anyone who doesn't know much about 11 Mile Canyon, the average fish is around 12", with a trophy being anywhere between 18-20". Seeing a fish over 24" is an extremely rare thing. Rarer still is seeing a 27" fish, then hooking and landing said fish on a size 22 fly with 6x tippet. Throw onto that the fact that I had several witnesses, one of which had it together to pull out his camera and start recording, and you have one hell of an adventure.

One of the things I think that we as fish story telling anglers appreciate is those moments that nobody can take away from you. When you reach a pinnacle after so many years of due paying and hard work, the stars align, and you accomplish something truly amazing. I will never forget seeing that fish, and seeing the reaction on my friends faces when I told them about the monster before I pursued it. Looks that said, "yeah right jk, a fish that big in 11 Mile Canyon? I'll believe it when I see it."

Motivated by those faces, and the fact that this was the last day of a weeks worth of hard work and slight disappointment, I found my fish and did everything perfect. I kept a low profile while approaching it from down stream, presented my fly far and soft enough upstream to keep from spooking the fish with my line, and reacted to the subtle twitch of the indicator that told me my size 22 Barr's Emerger sitting 6 inches beneath the surface was just inhaled by the fish of a lifetime.

Heart racing and hands shaking I am chasing this fish everywhere. Wading out almost past my waders just to get into the best position possible to land the fish. With steady pressure I managed to pull the goliath out of some weeds where it popped up to the surface and I summoned what strength I had left to bring it to the net. Then something happened that usually doesn't...

My close friends will tell you that I'm soft spoken, humble, and friendly. I can count on one hand how many people have seen me so animated that I'm yelling at the top of my lungs. However, when this fish came to the net I screamed louder than I've ever screamed, "GET SOME!" Not to show off, because it was literally something I had no control over. As if my spirit knew the enormity of what happened and how truly special it was. This surge of energy started at my cold wet feet, traveled up my leaky waders, and then took over my vocal cords and I shown my excitement.

So weak from the fight and so taken by the moment I couldn't get it together to take the hook out right away because my hands were shaking. During the quick photo my friends gave me a hard time and said, "give us the biggest cheesiest smile you can muster. A smile that says I just caught a 27" brown in 11 Mile Canyon." So I did. Here's the video...

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