From guest blogger Jalen Morton.
Yesterday on Sunday, February 16th, one of the highlights of my life occurred. I headed up to Cherokee to help out on a guided trip and learn some new water. I was accompanying Jason Cole, lead guide for Hookers Fly Shop. We arrived at the Ravens Fork a little after 9am and started fishing. One of the clients immediately hooked up on a very nice rainbow but was unable to land the fish. After a few aerial stunts the fish spit the hook and swam off in the deep. We made our way down stream until we arrived to what looked like an awesome section. This section had a deep undercut bank that seemed to never end. Many casts were made but few opportunities were presented. One client had 3 encounters with monster fish but all seemed to magically spit the hook. As the day went by I think we totaled up around 5 fish that managed to spit the hook. This river is not known to present many chances at fish. However, when you do get the chance it seems like it is often a PIG!!
Time flew by and the we ended up putting a beautiful 18 inch rainbow in the net to end the trip. The trip ended around 2pm leaving Jason and I plenty of time to hit the water and get in some fishing time for ourselves. We went back to the car and got the rods and headed straight back to the section with the deep undercut bank. I started out with a streamer and almost immediately had a Palamino chase it out from under the bank, but never would commit. Jason was fishing a stonefly pattern and a caddis pattern I believe and quickly hooked up and landed a beautiful 16-18 inch rainbow that had a set of shoulders like a NFL linebacker. Somehow while casting my streamer the tippet snapped sending my streamer flying through the woods which I took as a sign to switch over to nymphs. I rigged up and tied on a neat little stonefly pattern I had tied the night before and dropped it with a hares ear nymph. About 5 or 10 minutes went by when I hooked up on what seemed to be a nice fish. Like the others that day, he spit the hook and went on his merry little way. Jason decided he was going to head way up stream to another deep pool he knew about and I decided to stay put. I walked down stream probably thirty yards or so to where I had seen a fish rising to little black stoneflies. I made a short cast and nothing happened. On my second cast in the hole I knew it was going to be an awesome drift. The flies sank quickly allowing me to feel every rock and pebble they drifted over and then nothing, the flies went weightless, the indicator line made a slight pop in the upstream direction, and there was only one thing left for me to do, set the hook. I set the hook like it was going to be my last, no more hook spits or lost fish is what was going through my mind. I had no idea what I had just hooked into! The water boiled, followed by a flash of a long bright red stripe and it was on! Line began peeling off of the reel and I remember thinking to myself, “I’m alone, I’m hooked into what is probably the biggest trout that I have ever seen in person, I have a little net, how in the world am I going to land this fish.” In the midst of line peeling off the reel, me cursing the fish telling it to just please give up, and the excitement, fear, and whatever else I was feeling at the time, I was able to get Jason on the phone and all I said was this, “Monster fish, need help, need a bigger net, get here now!” I continued to yell at the fish hoping he would just stay hooked a little longer and that this one wouldn’t be referred to as “The one that got away.” Minutes later I saw Jason walking down the trail which soon turned into a sprint after he saw how big the fish actually was. I had the fish pretty worn out at this time, or so I thought. Jason stepped in and I began winching the fish over towards the net but the fish simply wasn’t having it. The fish took off every time Jason got close with the net. Eventually the fish turned towards Jason and in a crazy manner, Jason managed to swoop down and net the fish head first. I immediately felt both relief and excitement and was still cursing the fish for some reason. I looked down in the net and realized what had just happened, I just caught the biggest trout that I have ever seen with my own eyes. It will probably be a long time before I ever top this one, especially in North Carolina. This fish will forever be a time of excitement and pure joy in my life. I hope that one day soon someone else can enjoy the same fight with the same fish and that it will leave them with the same experience and emotion that it left me with. Tight lines, God bless, and have fun!
The fish measured in at 28 inches and was a guesstimated 8 or 9 pounds!