New Heathens
6Sep/110

The Big Brown

A guy named Tom Bie, now editor of The Drake magazine, told me in an interview for the Lewis Lake chapter of my Yellowstone trout book that he used to fish Lewis at night each September when the moon got big to catch exotic lake trout. To write with authority about this spooky experience, I had to try it too. Only I didn't catch any lake trout.

I caught this instead.

It was my first seriously big brown trout. The Big Brown is kindof the Ferrari of the trout world; it's become almost as much status symbol as sportfish. Every sporting goods store bulletin board, and most troutfishing magazines, show the grip-and-grin picture of The Big Brown. Arguably for good reason. Browns do get very big, and they fight hard. Plus big browns have the reputation for being the cagiest, trickiest trout to catch; adding gravitas to the angler who gets one. Thing is, you can find brown trout everywhere, coast-to-coast (rainbows too for that matter). I can take a train 75 minutes north of Grand Central Station and catch brown trout. That's why I like going out in search of native trout. A Snake River Fine Spotted Cutthroat? You're not going to catch that baby anywhere but Yellowstone country. Plus unlike native cutthroats (or bulls, or redband rainbows, etc.), brown trout were brought to this country from Europe back in the late 1800s. In trout, as in cars, I prefer the American made ones (preferably with lots of colors). Not that I would have ever minded catching The Big Brown; I just didn't prioritize the pursuit.

What do you do with a trout like this other than grin and gawk?

If I'da had someone to take my picture, it'da gone right to the sporting goods store corkboard!

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