Clint Ferguson big brown

It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is everything has its time and place in nature. In the spring you dig ramps when they pop out of the ground, pick morels when they’re up, and hunt turkeys.

In the fall there are those few magical days when the leaves reach their peak and our mountains show their true beauty. Several days are spent in the woods trying to figure out where that big buck is hiding and hopefully sooner than later, he’ll walk by.

It takes time and patience when it comes to deer hunting. Wind direction, weather conditions, stand selection, what phase of the rut is in are just a few things that come into play.

In the end it all comes to being in the right place at the right time. Like this past weekend for instance.

June has always been one of my favorite months to fish. The mayflies are hatching and the trout are happily feeding on them. There has been no shortage in the rainfall department so far and catching the river right has been the key.

To me, there is no other fish species I’d rather target than wild brown trout. They’re an elusive creature and are the hardest trout species to catch. You definitely have to work for a big brown especially nowadays as their populations are dwindling in West Virginia due to a recent attack. I’ll save that column for another day.

With rain in the forecast I made sure to pack the rain jackets before heading to the river. I looked at the radar and saw what was coming but I didn’t let it deter me.

Brown trout come alive when the water starts to rise and turn off color. Upon arriving at our destination, a torrential downpour had just stopped. We took the opportunity to suit up and head downriver as more rain was on the way.

As soon as we started walking, I noticed the water turning off color and picked up the pace. We hiked a couple of miles before reaching a big hole of water where I wanted to start fishing.

Immediately we noticed a few fish that were rising. A close inspection of the water’s surface and the air above confirmed Green Drakes and Isonychia mayflies were hatching.

Tara tied on an Iso dry fly and started casting to the rising fish. The water was still clear in this particular hole so we fished it for an hour or so while we waited for it to turn off color before fishing our way back up the river. Tara ended up catching 2 pretty little wild brown trout in the 10-12-inch range.

The rain started to pour out of the dark sky so we took shelter under a hemlock tree. It lasted maybe 20 minutes or so and then stopped. Once it did, the water started rising and turning off color.

I walked back over to the head of the big hole and ripped a streamer through it. Out of nowhere a huge brown trout exploded on my offering but he missed.

With my heart rate elevated we worked our way up the river to a section of pocket water that always has a nice fish or 2. Tara connected first with a 14-inch brown and while she was bringing it in a big fish nailed my streamer.

“Big fish,” I yelled as those are 2 of my favorite words to hear while fishing.

Tara took her fish off and grabbed the net as I fought the big brown down the river. Finally, after a couple of tense minutes I worked the big butter bellied brown into the net.

It was a beautiful specimen of a pure wild brown trout with bright orange spots pushing the 20-inch range. We admired the gorgeous fish and took a couple of quick pictures before sending it back to where it belonged.

The water was coming up fast and turned brown in color. The rain started to fall once again, but we kept on fishing. I ended up hooking 2 more big browns, but they got off before I could get them to the bank.

I saw several smaller browns, which is the case when streamer fishing, as you usually see more than you catch. As darkness approached, we walked up to the last big hole before the truck.

The green drakes were hatching and their coffin fly counterparts were falling to the waters surface. Tara grabbed the dry fly rod and went to work. It didn’t take her long to connect with a feisty brown that she quickly landed.

After that it was my turn as several nice fish were rising.

I no longer threw the first cast and the heavens opened up yet again. We were soaked to the bone and the rain looked like it wasn’t going to stop so we decided to call it a day.

It was hard leaving all of those rising fish but the light was fading fast and we still had a good walk back to the truck.

The river ended up getting blown out the next couple of days so I was glad I trusted my gut instinct despite the rainy forecast. Some of my best fishing days have occurred when it was dark, damp, and gloomy out and this trip was no exception.

You only get a handful of days like this when chasing after big brown trout and perfect timing is everything when it comes to spending memorable days in the wild and wonderful West Virginia outdoors. o

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