Friday, August 27, 2010

Fish of a Lifetime

It is truly a rare thing to catch the fish of a lifetime.  Every time you catch a fish that beats your personal size record you have to wonder if that fish is the biggest one that you will ever catch.  With a lifetime ahead of you how can you know that you won't catch a bigger or more meaningful fish?  Without reservation I can say that I have seen the fish of a lifetime hooked, fought, and landed successfully.  The problem was the fish wasn't on the end of my line.  This Walter was caught by my buddy Steve at the legendary Henry's lake.  

I was fishing with Steve on his boat on a late June weekend.  We had been getting slow albeit consistent action in the morning on midges near the cliffs, but midday and afternoon fishing was very slow.  Actually very slow was an exaggeration, the action was dead.  We were spot hopping and were in the channel at Staley's Springs when Steve's indicator took a dip.  A few seconds after he set the hook we got a quick flash and we both could tell that this was not the average Big H fish.  After relatively quick, but tense fight this 30" long, 19" girth, and 14lb trout came to rest in my net, Triple-D (and yes, my net has a name and a well deserved one at that). 

Steve has been fishing Henry's Lake regularly for almost 35 years.  The largest Henry's fish he had caught until this fish was only about 7lbs.  So not only was this Steve's largest trout ever, it was more than twice the size of any fish he had taken from Henry's.  The fish of a lifetime should naturally be huge, but it should also be rare in some sense.  Fish weighing in the double digit range are somewhate rare on Henry's, but fish in the teens are even more so.  Undoubtedly, this was a fish of a lifetime!

A fish of this size is at least 10 years old, which is amazing in its own right considering the fishing pressure that exists on Henry's.  The fish's advanced age became even more apparent when Steve was unable to revive him.  Instead of releasing this fish only to slip to the bottom and drown we collectively made the tough decision to keep this fish.  Years of catch and release fishing made this a very difficult call even though it was perfectly legal.

Keeping this fish actually helped shed some light into answering the question of the trout's exact species.  Henry's is stocked with 3 types of trout: yellowstone cutthroat, yellowstone cutt-rainbow hybrid, and brook.  Steve sumbitted the fish for dissection to the Idaho Fish and Game where they determined the fish had under developed sexual organs consistent with a hybrid trout.  The problem is hybrids typically have spots across their entire body where as pure cutts only have spots on their tail region (like his big guy).  The sheer age of fish is more consistent with a hybrid as cutts only live about 6 or 7 years while hybrids are have more longevity.  The fight was more remininscent of a cutt though as the fish didn't go on any blistering runs like hybrids are reknown for.  So the debate rages on, but I know one thing for sure.  I know that I hope this once-in-a-lifetime fish isn't the fish of MY lifetime! 


  1. Congratulations to you guys for landing such a great fish from Henrys. As you know, Henrys has many stories of fabled fish that most of us just dream about. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Nice blog!! I miss fishing henry's lake. I used to live in last chance and went there weekly. I just found your blog and your got a new follower