Written by: William Leach
sight-cast to this giant brown trout—34 inches long, 17 pounds. Wow.
Fishing at Vermejo Park Ranch for many years, I had always heard stories of the large fish that lived in the depths of Costilla Reservoir. I had never personally seen or caught any of these renowned fish, but with the conditions the way they were this season, with unusually low water due to minimal snow and little rain, it seemed that the opportunity to cast to a big fish in the reservoir would be slightly plausible.
I had spent several days this summer with different guests casting from the banks along the dam, and we had seen and hooked several nice fish, but nothing could prepare me for the fish that I hooked into. My father had come up to the ranch for several days to fish, and we decided we would fish along the dam at the reservoir in hopes of casting to an elusive monster Costilla brown. We snuck away one afternoon and made the steep hike down the banks to get to the water, and as we were descending I saw the huge outline of a trout cruising along the bank in front of us. I knew that the fish was exceptional, and at that point I could no longer wait for my dad behind me to catch up.
I made a few casts in front of the fish, stripping a big streamer, and then I saw the fish flash and felt that oh-so-familiar tug on the other end of the line. It seemed to take an eternity to land the fish, but I’m told it was only a matter of minutes. The fish tipped the scales at 17 pounds and was 34 inches long. It was truly an incredible fish and an incredible experience to share between a father and a son.
William Leach is a fly-fishing guide at Vermejo Park Ranch.