“You’ve got to be dynamic!” said Randy Beamish
in response to my question. I was simply wondering aloud how he manages to consistently catch so many extremely large brook trout.
But being dynamic on the water is easier said than done – especially when it comes to fishermen who, famously, tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to fishing techniques and locations. Usually, we tend to stick with a favourite area, and a tried-and-true pattern that we’ve had success with in the past… if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it right? Well, sort of. Sure, the secret spot and the favourite lure usually produce some fish, but sometimes we would be better off experimenting with both location and presentation.
On a recent trip with Randy, my expectations were sky high and I had my heart set on catching a personal best, monster-sized brook trout. Of course, while preparing for the trip, I packed my float rod & centre-pin reel, because, when chasing trout and salmon in the past, I’ve consistently had my best results floatfishing. Randy had some fly rods rigged up as well, and as an emergency back-up, I threw a 9 foot spinning rod in the boat, just in case.
Arriving at our destination, I noticed the mosquitoes were huge and biting voraciously - I could only hope the trout would be the same. We launched the boat and sped off. At our first stop, Randy suggested I set up a drift-fishing rig instead of running a float. Even though I hadn’t drifted for trout in years, I was not about to argue with an angler of such legendary status. I rigged up my spinning rod and tossed my line to a current seam where the slower water near the bank mixed with the faster, deeper water of the main flow. The first strike happened so fast I wasn’t even ready, and I missed the fish. On the second cast, I kept the line tight and when the fish hit, I set the hook and was fast into a sixteen inch speckled trout. On this fish, we observed a tag in its dorsal fin that had been placed there the day before by Randy as part of an on-going study. The fact that this fish was fully recovered and already back on the hunt for food was a true testament to the success of catch and release fishing.
Successive casts produced another small fish, and then another. Despite the fast action, Randy wasted no time in making the call – we had to move if our goal was to catch me a trophy trout. In all the excitement, I had already forgotten my own goal for the day- to catch a trophy. Would I have normally left a bunch of aggressive brookies just because the fish were not trophy-sized? No. Was the decision dynamic? Yes.
Of course, Randy was right. The next spot coughed up the biggest brook trout of my life. After catching a bunch of fish, we decided to switch up our techniques to coax an ever larger fish out of hiding. We tried both trolling and swinging a fly, but the trout were just not aggressive enough to chase anything. They were down deep and were only looking at food tumbling right along the bottom. When the bottom bouncing technique cooled off, and only the whitefish would continue to bite, we switched locations again, and again. Then I tossed a jig-fly into some rapids and we connected with a couple more fish, including a big lake trout. We wasted little time in areas that didn’t produce action, and whenever we found fish, we noted the structure and searched out more of the same. By the end of the trip I had the answer to my question- Randy’s approach to hunting these trout was both methodical and dynamic. More importantly, it was paying off… big time.