5 Nights, 5 Locations.

My obsession with trophy trout started about 6 years back. I became completely infatuated by the idea of enormous trout. To say that chasing trophy trout was an obsession is an understatement. I have spent hundreds and even thousands of hours pouring my soul into research trying to trace down places with the potential to hook and a land a goliath trout. Slowly, my obsession pushed me to fall in love with Brown Trout because of how incredibly challenging they can be. My passion for chasing trout is in tracking down new spots and exploring new water constantly. So when I say that our adventure began on Thursday, August 9th 2018; I am blatantly lying. Although August 9th through August 13th make up the time frame of when Bradley Bonnett and I landed these particular ten fish in this story, our journey began long before.

Bradley and I crossed paths while guiding at different lodges in Alaska in 2017. After the season ended in October we returned home to our respective states of Idaho and Utah. We decided to go on a fishing trip and Rainbow Trout a few days after we got home. This was the beginning of a 3 month timeframe that I consider "Hell-ish". We both were living off of the funds from guide season in Alaska and we trout-bummed all across the Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountains in search of 30 inch trout. This '30 Incher' is a length of fish that I consider, for this region, to be above exceptional and extraordinarily rare to come across.

October 15th 2017 until January 10th 2018 is when we fished almost nonstop, hunting a 30 inch trout. Due to my college semester starting again in January we had to give up the pursuit and put Trophy Trout on the back burner. During those cold winter months we fished well over 100 different locations; some all day, and most for just a few hours. This shotgun approach was nearly fruitless. There was one evening that we spotted one very large brown trout in late December cruising the edge of a large deep lake. He was, without a shadow of a doubt, well over 30 inches. I tossed my streamer near him and without hesitation he t-boned my fly and proceeded to take me 200 plus feet straight into my backing. He was deep and so far away I could barely keep tension. I fought this fish for ten minutes way in the backing before all of a sudden it was over. The line didn't break, no knot failed, the fish just came unbuttoned. Heart break. Our fishing mojo that had led up to us finally hooking "the one we were after" was all gone. 2017 ended on a low note and Spring of '18 put trout on the back-burner for monetary concerns and receiving an education.

When my semester ended May 1st, the hunt resumed. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Bradley went back to Alaska for guiding a half season from June until August. I spent those two months searching endlessly and stumbled into some truly unbelievable spots. I saw a handful of fish I am sure were pushing our 30 inch mark. I would call Brad on the weekends and describe the spots I had found and we started planning our trip for when he got home. August rolled around and we found ourselves wadering up in the evening light. The one thing I love about trophy trout is how hard they are to catch. The other side of that coin is that bigger fish start to become extremely piscivorous, cannibalistic, and carnivorous... and maybe the bigger secret; nocturnal. Brown Trout in particular are infamous for being night feeders. Gorging themselves on baitfish, crawdads, salamanders, rodents, and a plethora of other meaty animals that decide to cross their paths.

So, this story begins at 6:30pm on Thursday, August 9th. The beginning of a 5 day roadtrip that I will never forget. Fish were caught, fish were lost, and Personal Bests were broken.

To save the agony of reading the entire story of every fish, I will shortcut to the 'Top 3'.

But first here's a quick look at # 4 - # 10, on our list of favorite fish from the trip.

#10: Bradley with a firecracker of a chrome buck Brown Trout that slurped a mouse sometime after midnight.

 

#9: This was probably the strangest fish of the trip. Was not expecting a cutthroat and a pretty nice one at that. But low and behold at 11:29pm one of those fateful nights I tagged this gorgeous fish.

 

#8: The time was around 2:45am when Bradley hooked up with something heavy on a Glow-Chubby Chernobyl pattern. Ripping line and bulldogging he eased it to the gravel bar; thank heavens for big nets cause wow. We were sure it was a brown until we finally stared at it for a second in the net.. a tiger. A big one.

 

#7: This brown absolutely crushed Brad’s fly. The dimensions were unbelievable and the vibrant red spots were even crazier. If my memory serves me right this young male brown trout was 24”x13”.

 

#6: Bradley and I got a late start this night. We showed up and stripped out some line and started bombing casts into the black abyss. On my first 3 casts I had 3 big blow ups and I kept trout-setting instead of strip setting so the hook didn’t stick. I was getting pissed that I couldn’t remember to strip set.. next cast... BOOM!

 

#5: This fish didn’t come easy, we fished from late evening that day all through the night and when this fish hit the bag it was 5:33am. Guess it was technically “morning bite” cause the sun was peeping over the horizon. Cool way to end a tough night on the water!

 

#4: This fish the precursor to the fish that is #1 on this list, so I honestly don't remember much about him because about ten casts later... I caught his great grandfather. Still a beautiful and incredible fish that crushed a mouse at 2:30am.

 And finally, the Top 3. Where the story begins to end...

#3: Grandmother Brown Trout. The DSLR we had with us fell in the water as we were getting ready to take photos of this fish. With a fried camera, we settled for some blurry iPhone photos. The photos didn't turn out perfect but this fish is burned in my retina for time and all eternity. 30.25" mouse crusher. I could not believe my eyes when she was finally in the net. Barely in the net. I bring a giant rubber boat net for the 0.1% and she was definitely reason enough to have it, and she still barely fit. Her girth and shoulders were magnificent. I was completely alone when I hooked her and I fought her for around 10 minutes before I reached out and scooped her up while screaming for assistance. I was shaking after this fish and sat on the bank for a half hour just euphoric about what just happened. This fish rocked my world at 12:47am on the last night of the 5 day excursion. Yet she was only #3 on Bradley and my list of Top 10.

 

For #2 and Bradley's biggest of the trip, here is what he had to say about the experience.:

"Sleepless nights, long days, countless trips, and miles driven trying to catch trophy Brown trout with Bryan. We caught very nice fish, and had lots of fun with some unbelievable stories, but were still left searching for that 30" fish. Although I've caught a lot of nice Brown trout, I have never landed a "dirty 30" in over 2 decades of chasing the butter dragon.

When I got a phone call from Bryan saying he had a spot with probably the best shot at getting a Brown that size, I could hardly focus on anything else except for casting mice and streamers for woofy toads.

Bryan and I met up at the spot, and he started going over where we were going to fish and what spots had the best potential to hold the biggest fish. I couldn't wait to start tossing at this spot. It was so perfect. Mouse fishing can be very long and drawn out, with very little to show for hours of casting. This was not one of those times! I literally got to the first spot and began to cast, I made like a half a dozen casts and hooked into something so heavy I couldn't hardly move it. The fight was brutal, but short.
When I saw this fish I couldn't believe we got it in the net! Not because the net wasn't big enough, but because it was towing around a monster chunk of moss. After we rid the net of the moss we saw one of the meanest looking browns I had ever seen. We pulled the tape out and measured him... 30 inches on the dot! I shouted 'No way!' So we quickly measured it 2 more times... 29.5 inches! Yet again the 30 inch Brown Trout mark eluded me, but I didn't care this fish was unbelievable."
And last but not least, the best of the trip. #1:
I have landed some nice Brown Trout before and even landed a couple in the 30 inch plus realm. But something about this particular trout stopped me in my tracks and will be burned into my retinas for the rest of my life. To land a Brown Trout of this caliber in the middle of the summer while blindly tossing mice patterns into the abyss on a big lake has always been a dream of mine. After Bradley and I had a sour end to 2017, I set a goal to mouse up a 30 inch Brown in the middle of the summer.
Here's the story. Bradley and I had landed a few fish that night already and I had even stuck a 26 incher. I was elated, to mouse up a couple fish in one night is spectacular results. I have spent so many nights casting with no eats, no bumps, not even a sign of a fish. This night was different, very different. After I released the 26 inch brown at around 2:30am I started to fish with less intensity, I had caught the one I was after that night. Bradley and I separated and he was about 100 yards down the shoreline. Cast, strip, strip, pause, strip. I so vividly remember the gushing sound of water flushing through a fish's mouth as it inhaled my mouse. I stripped hard twice to get the line tight and was connected. Immediately this fish charged down deep off the shelf into deep water. I could feel the weight as it bulldogged hard against 15 pound fluorocarbon and my 8wt flyrod. The headshakes were slow and massive. I yelled for Brad to bring the big net for assistance.
Attached to my backpack was a small collapsible net well suited for 16 inch fish. At 3am its hard to make perfect decisions because delirium starts to kick in. I pulled off my pack and unfolded the small net. As I heaved this fish close, I flicked on my headlamp on a dull red light. The bank was steep and muddy, but I waded out to get a glimpse of this heavy fish. He came up and flashed about 10 feet out in all of his chrome glory. He was huge.
"BRADLEY ITS A MONSTER GET UP HERE!!!" I screamed and I heard him grumble about heading my way. The brown turned it head towards me and came gliding in. So without thinking, I dove my dinky net in the water and tried to scoop his head. As his chrome dome hit the bottom of the bag, the hook that was through his lip and sticking out, got caught in the netting. Only about 1/3rd of this fish could possibly fit in this net. He started thrashing violently. As he was rolling in the net the hook popped out and got stuck in the rubber. My heart stopped. In a panic I dropped my rod and tried to reach out to tail this fish. He rolled out of the net and I frantically scooped and tried to get the bag in front of his nose one more time. I took two steps with both hands on the net and made one last dive for him. I glanced the net off his nose as he sulked off into the deep. I had lost the fish of a lifetime.
About two seconds later my rod started to pull out from under me into the water. I grabbed my rod and pulled up; the fish was there... In the madness of trying to get the fish one last time in the net he had got wrapped and the line was through his mouth; with my last ditch attempt to net him the fly popped out of the netting and slid right back into the corner of his jaws. I had an angel watching out for me that night.
My heart rate around 200 bpm, I screamed for Bradley and the big net again. He showed up on the scene and with ease put this freak brown trout in the big bag. It was so large, so chrome, so girthy. I could not believe my eyes. We went to a shallow spot away from the mud to take some photos and I rolled out the tape measure. This buck brown was 30 inches. What a glorious fish. Bradley took a girth measurement of this dinosaur Brown Trout and it came out to 17.25" around.
The rest is history. Some quick pictures and a release video and this "Fish of a Lifetime" bolted back into the depths. I had finally met the Mayor of Brown Town.
- Story by Bryan Glass and Bradley Bonnett

2 comments


  • Mike Munoz

    Great story guys! I’m inspired and motivated for this upcoming season in Chile! I don’t think night fishing is even legal down here but I’ll push the daylight fishing as far inyo the night as i feel comfortable. I have a few lakes in mind but tell me should i focus on lakes only or are rivers worth spending hours on. The thing is, rivers add an element of danger and there is no river down here that i know like the back of my hand. Well, seems like if it floats and you can cast it with an 8wt then lts game. Cheers mates, from one exAK guide to another! MM


  • Marco

    Wow. Goosebumps.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published