Morgan Lands Big Brown
Morgan Wyatt works here at Lilleys' Landing in our office/tackle shop. She's worked at several "fishy" places in her young life -- Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, to name one. There she learned all about our trout, but she didn't learn all the techniques to catch trout until she made the move to Lilleys' Landing.
Last evening (Sunday, August 23, 2015), I took her out on the lake for some drift fishing. She'd been bugging me all summer about taking her fishing. My wife, Marsha, suggested I take her out while she watched the office so I obliged . . . tough job, I know.
We boated to the dam. The U.S. Corps of Army Engineers was running 176 megawatts of power, which equates to 2.5 units -- a nice flow to be fishing. I tied on a white Megaworm and a #14 lite gray scud to Morgan's two-pound line, using a 3/16-ounce bell weight to get the flies to the bottom.
Reports over the weekend weren't very good. Fishing was supposedly slow, so I wasn't expecting too much action. But the trout disagreed with that report and bit well for us. Morgan had 10 rainbows and one brown before we drifted past Fall Creek.
Below Fall Creek, the bite slowed down. We did not change flies; the Missouri Department of Conservation sampled the trout last week by a shock method and the unofficial report was the fish even below Fall Creek were spitting out scuds. This agreed with reports from our guides, too, so I figured there was no reason to change to something else. All but one fish were caught on our scuds.
We caught a few trout drifting past Short Creek, then down past Trout Hollow. The day was waning, so my plan was to keep drifting all the way to the resort.
Our dock was within sight when a boat passed us heading down lake. It was Kris Nelson, a long-time friend and former trout guide here on the lake. He moved to close to Stockton Lake and has been guiding up there, but had a couple of clients who wanted to catch some trout. He slowed down to visit just about the time Morgan set the hook in to what seemed like a snag.
As I talked with Kris, I glimpsed out of the corner of my eye a big fish jumping out of the water behind me, and everyone in Kris's boat started whooping and hollering. Then it jumped again, this time in my full vision. It was a very large trout.
I coached Morgan to calm down and take it slowly, not to horse it or get in a hurry. I loosened the drag on her reel just in case. I had two-pound Vanish (flourocarbon) on her reel with several knots that could have caused problems. But she fought the big brown like a champ, letting it make one long run before pulling it back to the boat. The fight was about five minutes long, and it ended with the brown in our net.
More cheers rang out . . . we were the only people on that part of the lake, but we were close enough to our dock to be heard. I kept the fish in the water until Kris had my camera ready for pictures. It was a blessing to have someone that close in another boat to get the images we did.
After securing what we felt like were good pictures, we eased on over to the dock with Morgan's trophy now in my livewell. I fetched our tournament electronic scales and took measurements -- the lunker brown was 24.5 inches long with a 17-inch girth and weighed 10.5 pounds! It did take the scud, which amazed me. Why would a fish that big eat something that tiny?
Morgan caught a fish of a lifetime within five months of starting work here at Lilleys' Landing. Maybe it's not her lifetime trout -- maybe she has a bigger trout in her future! I wouldn't doubt it.