By Gary Lewis
To catch big brown trout, they say, you've got to fish very early and very late in the day or even all night long. Big browns, they say, come from big, deep lakes where they feed on kokanee and chubs. Furthermore, you need big baits to turn salmo trutta's head.
Well, they should have been there on April 18, 2008 when Patricio Aguilar and Randy Samples spent their midday lunch break on the Deschutes River in the Old Mill district in downtown Bend, Oregon.
In this section of the river, the Deschutes takes a series of large bends for which the city of Bend was named. A blue-ribbon trout stream throughout most of its length, the river is less than exceptional in town and the section near the old mill is deep and slow-moving.
Samples opted for one of his favorite lures, a three-inch silver and black Rapala and six-pound test Maxima Chameleon line. He knew there was a big brown living below the bridge. Samples had angled for the fish before, but had only been able to catch the smaller browns that lived in its shadow.
But on this particular day, the big brown was ready for lunch. Aguilar cast across and up and started to crank. The Rapala dove and the big brown hammered it.
Browns aren't known for their aerial acrobatics, but this one came to the surface and when Aguilar saw it, he uttered a four-letter word that evokes the image of excrement and handed the rod to Samples.
Samples knew it would be tough to land the toothy fish on six-pound test. The battle lasted for more than ten minutes. At the bank, the fish rolled on the line and snapped it.
Samples grabbed the trout by the jaw and with one thrash, the fish slammed both trebles into his captor's hand.
By luck, I was passing by as Samples, still connected to the fish, and bleeding, started for the parking lot and first aid. My cloth measuring tape told the tale.
Aguilar and Samples' big trout measured 31.75 inches and had a girth of 18 inches. The Mepps calculator suggested a weight of 11.69 pounds. Using another trout calculator, the fish's weight was reckoned at 12.85 pounds.
The fish that Aguilar hooked and that hooked Samples at the bank is a fish that defied the odds, a trout that the two friends will never forget, a fish that outgrew and outlived its peers, a 12-pound downtown brown.