It usually happens when we least expect it. A random cast is made into some shallow riffle that really doesn’t look all that promising. Or you’ve got your fly trailing behind the boat as you slide downstream to that favorite hole that has been so productive over the years. Then wham! Two feet of buttery yellow brown trout rolls to the surface and takes off for the next county. Will you be ready? Will you survive that first 60 seconds without snapping that tippet? I see it happen all too often to new and experienced anglers alike, being caught off guard happens sometimes many times over a days fishing. All the fish aren’t giants but the ones you remember and kick your-self for years afterward usually are. I know I’ve been there done that.
Concentration is a key element to getting that fish of a lifetime on the line to start with. Missing the strike because you’re trying to text your buddy about the golf game tomorrow or work related stuff happens a lot. Believe me I’ve seen lots of guys fishing with one hand and holding their cell phone to their ear with the other. That drives me bananas! Like dude why are you here? Heron-like concentration and movements get the big boys on the line. Being able to zone out the world around you and only see what’s going on around your fly is what separates the guys that consistently catch big fish and the guy who wishes he were.
Now you’ve got him hooked what do you do now? With extra large trout and bass for that matter, stuff is going to get very real very fast! If you have to think about what to do you are probably going to get your butt kicked by a fish. Fighting the fish of a lifetime should be a fluid beautiful thing. Experience with lots of big fish is about the only way to get comfortable having a freight train hooked onto the end of your line. Fishing the private pay to play trout streams here in North Georgia will give you some good experience with that. Then when you take that once in a lifetime trip it will be business as usual if the right one decides to eat.
The first minute is normally the toughest time to stay hooked up. The fish is hot and moving fast so get the beast on the reel if possible and keep that hand off the fly reel. By all means let that hundred-dollar drag do its job. If she wants to run downstream let him go and try to maintain a bend in the rod as you follow. If he stops and turns around try to get to the side of the trout, pulling a big boy upstream is almost certain to leave you crying in your beer that night. The fly will usually come out or the fish will snap your now likely frayed tippet. Keep steady pressure but not too much, developing a feel of how much wood you can put to the fish with a given tippet size again comes only with experience with some fatties. Also, that being said pointing the rod at the fish will usually end with a snapped leader. Keep that rod at a forty-five degree angle from the fish and put him in the big old net you brought. That will also keep me from pulling out the rest of my thinning hair!
Be sure to check out our Guided Fly Fishing Trips page for information if you are interested in your chance to land a trophy trout!