If there was one word that gave me the goosebumps, it would be “Mousing” and no I’m not talking about swinging big mice all day in Alaska. I’m alluding to the adrenaline-packed, eerie feeling, and unpredictable approach to targeting giant brown trout in complete darkness.
Don’t get me wrong, watching trout aggressively eat mice in broad daylight is a once in a lifetime experience for most and I would personally never turn down the chance. But on the other hand, there is something to be said for those who prefer the method where their most important sense is rendered useless while trying their chances at catching the giant they’ve dreamed of. These types of individuals (Including myself) are dedicated to the game and I’m happy to shine a light on what happens during a dark, creepy, and killer mousing trip with The Graveyard Crew.
To give you some background info, this group of rad guys was formed a few years back when my good friend Tom and I were looking for more time on the water and bigger fish. We both had the same frustration, watching nocturnal browns show themselves 10 mins before sundown while maybe getting one shot drifting a size 18 Spinner, praying to see the eat in low light so we could set the hook.Although we did learn to adapt and capitalize on these fish, we knew there were bigger, meaner, and hungrier fish waiting even longer to show themselves and we knew exactly what they were willing to eat.
Late in the month of June, I get a text during my lunch break... “Tom: New moon tonight, No work tomorrow, Mousing?” “Me: F**k yea, let’s get after it tonight!” the goosebumps hit and the adrenaline already starts to build. I scramble to get my headlamp, 9’ 7WT, and my pack together throughout the rest of the day. Each night always starts the same, get to the river by 6:30 PM, fish the evening hatch or spinner fall, scout our spots for the night, and pray that fish are not gorging themselves. Lucky enough fishing was slow that evening and we had an assumption that even the average sized fish were going to be hungry later on. We rig up our bigger rods with floating line, leader (6’ : 12lb), and a juicy size 4 Master Splinter.
After some time up at the truck having a few and talking about the possibilities of the night, we notice its 10:00 PM and head back down to the river. As we approach our headlamps shut off and we acclimate our eyes to the darkness as much as possible in order to have some sense of balance and direction in our spots. Casting to the opposite bank, we inch the mouse across the deeper & slower section of the run just fast enough to leave a wake as if a mouse is leisurely making its way to the opposite bank.After a handful more drifts working my way downstream carefully, the moment you wait sometimes hours for finally happens. Everything stays silent, the line goes tight, you strip set, and something big is on the other end tugging back.
The fight is a blur and it always is for me, for some reason when I’m mousing. This one was different though,I distinctly remember saying to myself after the hook set... “It sipped a mouse,A F**K’N MOUSE, this thing must be a giant”.After a strong but quick fight, it was an extraordinary hen brown that measured close to 23”. It wasn’t its length, beauty, or the fight; it was the simple fact that she didn’t crush the fly and opted to sip it with ease like it was an average sized mayfly.
That moment is the main reason myself and others still get goosebumps and look forward to every single night they get to pick up a rod and chuck rodent patterns at large browns that lurk in the darkness waiting for the next best meal.
Written and Photography by Tyler Puisello
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