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Big Brookies

Without a doubt my favorite trout is a brook trout. I had dreamed of catching a monster brook trout for years. Giant brook trout don’t exist in many places that I know of on this planet. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend a day wading tiny western streams dry fly or jig fishing for 6-12 inch brookies but there is something about big brook trout that allures me. 

The Minipi River system in Labrador Canada boasts arguably the largest brook trout in the world. In the summer of 2015 I had no problem clearing my calendar when my friend, Jim, offered to take me and several of his family members to the Minipi River Lodge to spend 4 days fly fishing for these giant “square tails”.

When we arrived we were told that the fishing was “pretty good” but lots of rain had limited the fishing opportunities and the rainy, windy weather had severely hampered the dry fly fishing which was dependent on the evening hatch of green drakes. I was still eager to try stripping a small 1/50 oz. PJ’s marabou jig as well as dry fly fishing for rising fish. 

We started out day one wade fishing near the lodge where the Minipi River exits the lake. The water was very high and swift and difficult to wade and to fish. Steve caught a big one (5 pounds) almost immediately on a muddler minnow.  The five of us pounded the water for several hours after that and only caught four more small brookies. I kept stripping every color and size of jig that I had.

Finally I found a spot where two current flows merged and I was able to hook several small to medium size brookies. I landed three and the biggest one might have gone 15 inches. Finally right before quitting time, I waded out into a deep eddy as far as I could and cast upstream in the nearly dead water letting the jig drop to the bottom beneath the heavy sink tip leader that I was throwing. When I raised the rod tip I felt the solid tug of a big fish. After a five minute battle I landed my first trophy size Labrador brookie. The guide weighed her in the net.  He said “5.1 pounds” as I tried to calm down long enough to pose for a picture and then released the most awesome fish that I had ever landed. 

Ten minutes later in the same spot it happened again and another giant brookie in the 20 inch plus class came to the net. Then it was over. Everyone caught at least one fish but Steve’s initial big fish and my last minute 2 brutes were the only 3 trophy fish that day.

The fishing was slow due to the high water and the weather but over the next 3 days every member of our group landed at least one trophy brook trout.  The youngest member of our group, Scott caught the largest fish of the trip on a green drake imitation dry fly.  It weighed a whopping 6.6 pounds.  That’s a monster brook trout.  I landed two more giants on a dry fly, the largest was 22 inches long and weighed 5.5 pounds. 

In 4 days of fishing, I landed only 22 brookies which is not a lot but just seeing a 20 inch plus brook trout with a belly the size of a football was worth the trip.  Here’s to wild places and big fish.

- Jim

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