"Hog Johnson is the biggest fish in the river. He doesn't come easy to the fly. Very few people land him, a lot of people have encounters with him. He's a shape shifter. He may be a 12 inch golden trout in the High Sierras or he may be a 36 inch rainbow trout on the Zhupanova River. It's just that one fish that everyone is after."
-Ryan Peterson Eastern Rises
With spring and trout season slowly coming to a close I had in my mind an encounter with the biggest fish they threw in the local system. I encountered him one afternoon after school and after a brief moment of contact, I was determined to come back the following day better equipped. Hog Johnson was going down. In this case, it wasn't a 36 inch wild rainbow from Kamchatka or a beautiful 12 inch monster from the High Sierras. It was a 26 inch stocked slab of rainbow from Delaware that had just experienced and survived over a month of constant pressure from spin and fly guys.
After a few weeks of catching larger stocked fish on the fly rod, I had grown accustomed to their ways. I honed my sight fishing technique to a downstream approach using a long leader and 6x tippet. I slowly figured out that they wanted something small (in the 20s) or from the meat and potatoes variety (eggs and worms). Upon hookset, they immediately put on an aerial display to use their girth to throw the hook. This usually lasts anywhere from 3-5 vertical jumps before they go for an initial run to the closest structure. From there it was all about the land. Their actions and behavior started to become predictable and since I knew what they were going to do before it happened I could adequately prepare myself for my counter-maneuvers. On this day, a few fish in the 18-22 inch range served as practice for the main event: Hog Johnson.
Always Following Me Around...
A Pawn Sent To Investigate...
Stalking the Little Guys...
I Stalk The Bigger Ones...
An Entirely Synthetic Fish.
Fellow Big Fish Stalker.
A Descending Sun Illuminating The Creek.
As I approached the area, I knew HJ would be, I used a very careful approach. Calm water does not react well to a wading angler. I inched through the water column trying not to send any vibrations across the surface signally trouble. When I reached my position, I already knew the sink rate of my fly and dialed in the length of my leader. I made the cast, the fly presented itself perfectly, and HJ did not even have to move his 6-8 pound frame to eat. He leisurely opened and closed his mouth before realizing his mistake. After a down and dirty fight his head succumbed to the bottom of my net (his body stuck out) and I took a photo of my local Hog Johnson.
Hog Johnson of Delaware.
Meadow on the Way Out.
Spring is Out & Summer is In.