Preamble by Steve Siciliano
It’s a lot of fun hooking into big browns and rainbows on light fly-fishing tackle but what I find equally enjoyable is catching and releasing a beautifully colored, diminutive brook trout. Michigan brookies are runts compared to other species of game fish found in the state. They mature slowly, rarely live longer than six years and, other than the ones called coasters that live in Lake Superior and migrate up rivers to spawn, they rarely grow beyond 9 inches. If you catch a 12-inch brookie in a stream in the lower peninsula it’s considered a big one. Last week on the famed AuSable River I tied into a big one.
I knew the fish was big as soon as I set the hook. It had rose to the surface to inhale the brown drake imitation then immediately began bending my 5-weight rod. “Get it away from that wood,” my guide Shawn yelled from the back of the Au Sable River Boat. I kept the fly line taunt with my right hand, reeled in the slack with my left and carefully eased the brute away from the submerged logs. It then went on a reel screeching run down river, jumped three feet out of the water, continued its run downstream and threw the hook.
“That was a good fish,” Shawn said after a few moments of silence. “How big do you think?’