I don’t normally do how-to essays. My way of doing something might not be the best for everyone, so I worry about feeling bad when someone points out that there is a better way. Just the other day, though, I caught the biggest brook trout of my life. That made me feel good. Really good. And now that I’ve had some time to think about how it happened, I believe I know something so important that I have to share it.
Now, if you have caught at least one brook trout then you have already caught the biggest brook trout of your life. I understand that. I want to tell you how to catch the biggest brook trout you will ever catch. Unless you have fished—or will fish—somewhere like Labrador. If you get to do that, then you don’t need my help.
You can’t do this alone, so the first thing you need to do is select a fishing partner. This can’t be a person you’ve fished with before, so you’ll have to arrange an outing with someone you haven’t met, or at least haven’t fished with. It really helps to find someone who likes IPA beers. Someone like this guy, maybe.
Next, pick a place that you’re familiar with, but your new fishing partner isn’t. It is important that your friend believes that the stream, or pond, or lake holds some nice brook trout. And it really helps if your destination is a beautiful place that your accomplice would like to fish regardless of whether or not they catch a fish. They need to be enthusiastic about fishing at this place.
The next step might not be an intuitive one, but it is critical. You need to make it seem as though the outing is all about your new fishing partner catching a nice fish. So don’t even bother stringing up your rod at first. Just show your friend the best spots, then slip away to take a few pictures of flowers. This is also a good time to drink one of your friend’s IPAs.
It is essential that you leave your friend alone. That way they will fish for a while in the places you suggested, then make the important decision to try some new spots on their own. Think about it. If you were going to catch the biggest brook trout of your life in one of the places you know about, you’d probably already have done it.
When you finish drinking your friend’s IPA, go ahead and string up your rod. Then open another of your friend’s IPAs. Take some more pictures of flowers, then work your way back to the water and make a few casts. At this point you’re not trying to catch a fish. You’re just practicing. Remember, you’ve had two of your friend’s IPAs and you need to be sure you can get off a good cast when the time comes. So practice your casting.
By now your friend will have tired of fishing at the places you suggested, so they will have moved and won’t be easy to find. When you do finally find them, they’ll probably be releasing a fish. Be sure to act surprised, but not too surprised. Being charitable and kind, your friend will invite you to come and fish with them, but don’t go just yet. Hold back until they catch a few more fish, then work your way into their spot. You need to be careful, though. You’ve had two IPAs, and you will need to crawl through some brambles or wade through some muck to get into the place your friend has found for you. It won’t be easy to get in there because, if it was, you’d already know about it.
When you get to the spot, don’t tell your friend that you drank two of their IPAs. They probably won’t care, but you are too close to catching the biggest brook trout of your life to risk blowing it over a couple beers. Tell your friend how cool it is that they found this spot, then wait for a trout to rise. It won’t take long. When the fish does rise, your friend will tell you to take a shot at it. Tell them that they should go for it because they found the spot. Don’t worry, they will insist that you try for the fish.
Work out some line, take a deep breath, then make your cast. But don’t screw it up. This may be your only chance to catch the biggest brook trout of your life.