Picture of the Day: Nessie of the Battenkill

Written by: Phil Monahan

Loch Ness Monster

Grainy? Check. Dark? Check. Doesn’t show whole fish or angler? Check and check. But this shot is all I’ve got to commemorate a fine catch.

photo by Eric Rickstad

That’s terrible photo, isn’t it? It was taken a couple of springs ago on the Battenkill. Eric Rickstad and I were swinging streamers during fairly high water and having no luck at all. Thinking that perhaps we weren’t getting our flies deep enough, I cast well upstream of the hole in front of me, high-sticked the streamer until it was straight across, and then started stripping it off the bottom.

On about my third cast, the streamer stopped dead, and I experienced that momentary “rock or fish?” debate before a big, buttery slab of brown trout rolled to the surface. I called to Eric and struggled to keep the fish out of the deadfall on the opposite bank. When I finally got the fish at my feet, I handed the rod to Eric and tailed the beast. It was truly a stunning brown trout, with gorgeous coloring and the sleek silhouette and perfect fins of a wild fish.

It was only then that we realized neither of us had brought our digital cameras. Eric started digging through his vest and, thank goodness, came up with an ancient disposable film camera, with which he took the Loch Ness Monster-quality shot above. It’s the only evidence I have of that 23-inch brown, the largest I’ve ever caught in the U.S. Better than nothing, but hardly the trophy shot I’d like to have.

Why do I bring this up today? I got out on the Battenkill this morning at 5 a.m. to see if I couldn’t scare up a nice brown after failing to do so with guests last Friday. After about 45 minutes, I cast into a slot below a downed tree, and a big fish slammed my Olive Conehead Woolly Bugger as soon as it landed. The hole it made in the water suggested I had hooked a good trout, so I played it away from the tree and tried to find a place to land it.

Unfortunately, I was in a stretch where the bank behind me was totally overgrown, so all I could do was tail the fish in about three inches of water. It was a beauty, 21-22 inches long and very deep—a well-fed male. I struggled to hold the fish and my rod while rummaging through my pockets for my iPhone. When I found it, of course it wasn’t turned on. So, now I had to dry my hand. But which hand? Long story short: in all my fumbling the fish flopped, the hook fell out, and I was once again without my trophy shot.

I think I need to start wearing a GoPro.

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