A day of recovery and travel as we close out the Fall Field Campaign for 2016.
It’s only fitting that during the last hour on the last day of the Fall Season that Jay Peck and I managed to find the elusive Brownzilla (the Monster Brown Trout from Little Sandy Creek). The only problem was that we were a few days late because Brownzilla had deposited her Eggs during spawning and was subsequently about 2 to 3 pounds lighter. Still, she weighed in at 18 pounds and topped the list of the most impressive fish of the trip. The fish would have exceeded 20 Lbs. easily last week but it gives me motivation to wait another 360 days to get even and hunt for her big brother in November of 2017.
The tale of the tape for the largest double-digit fish of the day included 1 fish at 12 pounds, 2 at 14, 1 at 15, 2 at 16, 2 at 17 and Brownzilla at 18 pounds. What was unique about the 2016 season on Sandy Creek was that the extremely low, cold (38 degrees) and crystal clear water made for perfect fish portrait conditions. Usually, the water is a brownish tea color and combined with the unstable lake effect weather, it’s rare to get a clear blue-sky day to capture great fish close-up photos. Wading around a slippery river bottom for six to eight hours in 38 to 40-degree water with swirling winds gusting to 25 MPH can also take its toll on an angler. It’s hard to keep your core temperature elevated throughout the day so if some of the photos look slightly out of focus, it’s because our hands are shaking. Jay is a real trooper and never complains (that he can’t feel his fingers) as he assists with holding our subjects perfectly in the water for their close-up photo session.
The hens migrating out of Lake Ontario are real “porkers.” Their girth dwarfs their length and it is funny watching them fight on the end of the line because their profile in the water is so wide that they resemble a submerged Zeppelin trying to swim. The male fish are equally impressive, not so much with their size but instead with their intense autumn colors (pumpkin orange sides, black bellies, halo ringed spots and bright-white gill lines), enlarged hooked jaws and aggressive attitude. Most of the really large fish have teeth-mark scars covering their bodies as they are constantly biting each other while battling other fish.
Many thanks again to Jim Metcalf for providing access to fish on the premiere stretch of the river and thanks to Jay Peck for his guiding, coaching and close friendship. Some of the close-up pictures that Jay and I were able to take during the past 3 days were the best we’ve ever captured.
Next up, work on the 2017 Success Profiles calendar. This is the 10th year that I’ve published one that always features the best photos from the most recent season.
Expect to see a few of these shots featured for the October and November months.
PS: As you can see in the last photo, the next challenge… My Edward Scissorhands impersonation. Fly fishing with two rods at the same time and attempting to land two monster Browns.