On my way to Newport this weekend I stopped by the Clinch to see if I could get a decent fish. My plan was to fish ultra small and ultra big. I started at the Weir, and it was packed. The water was as low as I've ever seen it. I hiked down river to get a little separation from the 10-20 fishermen positioned at various locations around the Weir. I saw some fish rising and stalked to a good casting spot. The water was fairly clear and slack. I stood still for a minute or two and watched the pool where I had seen fish rising. Finally, I was able to pick out some fish. Within 10-15 feet of me in this slack pool were five to ten 15-20 inch bows and browns.
I tied on a size 22 midge and tried my luck. Unfortunately, I had rigged a 6 weight with the intention of throwing streamers, so I ended up scarring the big fish. I moved a little further down river where I saw some more action. I tied on a huge white articulated streamer. I got one big hit, and then the action died. I left the Weir and went down to Miller's Island. After busting my ass on a hill down to the stream, I put in on the road side of the Island. I had a big streamer, when a guy came up to me and indicated the fish were hitting on small HE and PTs. I was a little suspicious, but I tied on a size 14 prince and trailed a size 18 PT off the back about 3 feet. The water was not more than 12-24 inches deep and I was bumping the bottom on my first couple of drifts. Suddenly, on my 3rd or 4th cast my line stopped. I pulled up on my rod and was sure I had a rock. I gave it another tug and suddenly a gigantic Rainbow rolled over on his side. I had a ton of line out of my reel. I tugged on the line and pulled him towards shore. He got in about 10 inches of water and started flopping profusely. I started to walk down to where he was. I was in shock at the size of this bow in such shallow water. I saw this fish multiple times - he was in excess of 20 inches and fat. He was big enough to put a serious bend in my 6 weight. As I walked down towards him he jumped out of the water and flopped vigorously in the shallow water, throwing the hook in the process. I stayed for another 30 minutes trying to get him to take again, but I'm sure he was long gone. I missed about 10 hits during that time period, but I'm sure they were small fish. The big one was on my line for a minute or two: The one that got away - Ouch! That rainbow is probably the best fish that I can remember losing. It's not often in my experience to get such a pig on the line that's not pellet fed.