Friday, December 27, 2013

The Legend continues

Those of you who have followed The Naturalist's Angle for a while may remember the Legend of the Christmas Crawdad- the saga of the fly that I have used for Christmas Day trout fishing for the last four years.

In 2013, the Christmas Crawdad has become truly legendary.

I present to you the greatest accomplishment of the Christmas Crawdad to date... and one that is likely to never be surpassed...

"Merry Christmas from AR!"

Christmas Crawdad barely visible in the mouth

This fish is my new personal best Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) by about three or four pounds. I'm not exactly sure, but I think it was in the neighborhood of 8 lbs... quickly landed, photographed, and returned to the river. We didn't want to stress her out by taking too many pics or measurements. A fish that big deserves a little respect.

Unfortunately, we left our proper fishing camera at home and didn't realize it until we were about half way to the river... so the only record of my biggest trout ever are a few crappy cell phone pics. However, if we had the proper camera, I'm sure I would have never landed this fish on 5X tippet using a ridiculous fly crafted from holiday decorations.

In addition to this "UN believable" trout (as Bill Trussell of "Fishing Through Life" responded to a picture text I sent him that said "Merry Christmas from AR!"), we also caught a few other fishes.

Kelly landed this cute little toothy critter that we thought might have been a Muskie (Esox masquinongy) at first, but it turns out it's a Grass Pickerel (E. americanus). There are Muskie in the Spring River, but there are also Pickerel in the impoundment formed by the dam at Mammoth Springs. I'm going to guess this little guy got washed over the wall in a recent high water event.


Grass Pickerel (E. americanus)

Kelly also established a new personal best on this trip... which is not nearly as impressive as my new personal best if I do say so... but an accomplishment nonetheless. (I know I'm gonna eat those words when bass fishing season gets underway.)

Believe it or not, Kelly's new personal best Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)...


Kelly and Brown Trout have had a mysterious relationship. She just can't seem to find them. She briefly hooked and lost a nicer one in the Chattahoochee River in Georgia a little over two years ago, but her encounters with Browns prior to this have been... how should I say it?... a whole lot cuter.

Like last year, we counted raptors as we drove the highway from Memphis to the Spring River. We didn't see as many Northern Harriers as last year, and only one Bald Eagle this year, but we did record 66 Red-tailed Hawks. Last year we didn't keep up with the exact number of Redtails, but there definitely weren't as many as this year. Needless to say, eastern Arkansas along the Mississippi flyway is a great place for winter hawk watching... even at 70 mph through the windows of a car.

Except for the minor inconvenience of a forgotten camera, we (I) really couldn't have had a better day of fishing for Christmas this year. I hope everyone out there has enjoyed a wonderful holiday season thus far, and I wish you all tight lines and bent rods for 2014.

16 comments:

  1. What a pig! Looks like you had a great day! That pickerel is cool - I had no idea there were any in the system at all. Kelly's brown is beautiful - they are always a very welcomed surprise on the Spring.

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    1. Kirk,
      Thanks for the comment. We definitely had a great day.
      Kelly's Brown looks good in the pic, but only because we got a photo of its good side. ;) It had a really misaligned lower jaw and a nub for a pectoral fin on its left side... probably the results of early life spent in a hatchery. The pickerel was a first for us, although Kelly claims she missed some sort of toothy critter a couple years ago in the Spring.

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  2. Great fish Jay!! Looks like you guys had a stellar day on the water for sure , my kind of Christmas celebration.
    Here's hoping you have a fantastic New Year....

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  3. Jay
    I will repeat the word “UNBELIEVABLE” one can go a lifetime and not land a rainbow that size. The trout is still worth being framed or better yet dry mounted. If you opt for the latter start saying up, because I would think a trout that size could be expensive. Congrats on an awesome trout—thanks for sharing

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions, Bill. I may just stick with a simple print and frame since I didn't get any actual measurements... and it will be a whole lot less expensive.

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  4. Congratulations that is quite a fish and its always fun to catch something unexpected with that pickerel.

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    1. You never know what you'll reel in from this river, which is why it's one of our favorite places to fish. I think I was just as excited by the pickerel as the big trout... and it wasn't even my catch.

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  5. Truly an awesome rainbow. Congrats!

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  6. heck yeah! That is a great Christmas present! Happy Holidays to you and yours!

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    1. Definitely my best gift this year. Thanks, David.

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  7. Great fish, man. Put me down for a dozen Christmas Crawdads.

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    1. Ty, you're a funny man. I bet a Christmas Crawdad would tempt a carp in the right place too. It shares a lot of qualities with some of the more popular carp patterns I've seen circulating online.

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