ANTHONY IN THE HOG TROUGH
A Short Story
by Jim White
My wife Patti and I got back from three-months of sabbatical travel in Europe on the morning of July 31. On the afternoon of this same day Anthony Surage, accomplished guide of the Angler’s Covey stable, called to ask, “Want to go fish the Hog Trough in the morning?”
At 3:00 a.m. the next day we were on our way to the Taylor River, our objective -- fish the half-mile of tailwater catch-and-release water just below the Taylor Dam. It is known to have some of the biggest “pigs” in the state—long, thick, broad ‘bows.
As we walked up the road from the bridge parking area, Anthony said, “These fish often hold right in front of mid-river, stick-out-of-the-water rocks--like right there!” He pointed with his rod.
I looked and did not see anything. “Where?”
“There in the cushion in front of the boulder…that brown blur…it’s a fish.”
“Maybe,” I responded.
Going a little further, we stopped at a deeper run. He looked down. “In there,” he said are two—no three—‘bows. See their red strips and green backs?”
I had to admit I did not.
“Well, you’ll get better at spotting them. You need to, so as to put the bait on their nose.”
“I’ll keep my polarized on,” I promised.
Well, Anthony was just awesome. With what he calls his “slop and flop” method, much line floating loosely on the water to allow a natural drift, he was shortly into a fish. The fish ran him downstream. He returned shortly to say, “Twenty-three inches,” and then he hooked up with another fish which broke him off. I cast around in a similar manner, I thought, but had no hookup. After a while, I crossed the stream and went up closer to the no trespassing area. There in a deeper flow I picked up a 16 incher. Across the river I could see Anthony charging down stream again.
“How’d you do?” I asked him when I came back.
“Great,” he said. “The last one was 30 inches, truly a hog! How about you?”
“Real slow,” I confessed.
“Let me watch you,” he offered, and then he gave me instructions on how to throw out lots of loose line, keep mending it upstream, and get a long deep float that would put my mysis shrimp nearer the bottom. He had me cast to a boulder-cushioned trout in the middle of the river. He said, “When you see the white of his mouth, hit it. Like HIT IT NOW!”
I did, and I was connected. The fish immediately started downstream, happily on my side of the boulder. I was off running, trying to keep up. Quickly I was into my backing. Then my fish stopped in a pool and I retrieved line. “He’ll come to the net now,” I hoped, but he did not. Instead he ran across and settled in a slot beside the opposite bank. I put a little pressure on him…and “out and down” he went again, me chasing, lifting line over bushes, rocks, and anglers to stay even with him. Finally he began to tire and at a shoals area I worked him into my net. A beauty. The tape measure I affixed to the spine of my rod read “Twenty-six inches!”
This was the biggest river fish of my life!
I scooped him up in the net and began the run back to Anthony—for a picture.
Some fisherman yelled at me, “Shit-head, put that fish back in the water!”
“I will, I will,” I shouted over my shoulder.
Anthony took the picture with my Minox “spy camera.” I could not have been happier. The fish revived and swam off to be slop-and-flopped to again.
Anthony said, “Good job.”
Later that afternoon driving across South Park, Anthony said, “You ought to guide for the Covey. I’ll speak to Dave Leinweber about you.”
He did and the designation came about. I was classified a “C” guide, meaning “corporate” (used when big groups are booked and the shop is desperate for help). I hoped it did not stand for “Crummy.” The “B” guides are probably those who are “Better.” And the “A”? I know what it stands for: “Anthony.”
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