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spectr17
12-03-2005, 04:23 PM
UPPER TWIN BROWN TROUT -- Jim Matthews 19oct05

17-7 brown trout best at Upper Twin since state record

http://www.jesseshunting.com/images/trout_brown_upper_twin_hanour_10_2005.jpg


Greg Hanour has been obsessed with big brown trout for decades. It was nearly 40 years ago that he moved with his family from Buffalo, New York, to California and started making regular fishing treks to Upper Twin Lake near Bridgeport with his parents. He continued to come back as a young man, and today he returns regularly with his own family. The place keeps drawing him back.

The attraction has always been the huge mounted trout on the walls of the resort at Mono Village. Eating at the cafe, the young angler would look up at the mounts and dream. Catching one became a goal for the young angler, a quest. He told himself that one day he would catch a brown big enough to be mounted and put on the wall with those other huge trout. While still a kid he remembers fishing from the shore and seeing the legendary Allan Cole, the founder of the Brownbaggers, troll past in his boat one opening weekend.

"I'd yell out to Allan Cole that I was going to be a Brownbagger someday, and he'd just smile and wave back," said Hanour.

While Hanour still doesn't qualify for membership in the Brownbaggers -- it takes catching two brown trout over 10 pounds -- he's made a big first step. On Sunday, Oct. 9, he hooked and landed a 17-pound, 7-ounce brown trout from Upper Twin Lake.

It wasn't an accident. Hanour has been focusing almost all of his fishing effort on big browns at Upper Twin the last few years. This is the lake that produced the 26 1/2-pound state record brown trout for Danny Stearman of Bakersfield opening weekend in 1987.

Martin Strelnick, a former Mono County sheriff and chronicler of Sierra fishing, said he thought Hanour's fish was the biggest brown caught from Upper Twin since Stearman's fish.

"It's been 10 years or more since anyone has caught a brown from either of the [Twin] lakes in the teens, and now there have been two or three this year," said Strelnick, citing Jim Bringhurst's (another Brownbagger) 16-pound, 5-ounce fish caught at Lower Twin early this season.

Like the Brownbaggers, Hanour has done the key thing to become a successful trophy brown trout angler: He has put in the time. Hours and hours of slow-trolling from dawn to dusk. Learning strike-reaction trolling techniques. Refining his tackle. Studying everything written on brown trout. The dozens of smaller brown trout added knowledge, but they didn't quench his desire.

"My goal has always been to get one big enough for the cafe," said Hanour, a 49-year-old from Costa Mesa. "It seems like I've been going after this fish my whole life."

The big brown trout was hooked and landed on lightweight six-pound test line just at dusk that Sunday evening. It was well past dark when he finally netted the fish and brought it in to the boat house to have it weighed.

The big brown trout stuck a home-tied streamer fly Hanour calls the Garth Flasher, named after his son, while the fly was being trolled slowly across a shallow shoal. The trolling fly was developed with the different features Hanour liked on other flies had used over the years. And it was effective. Nine years ago he used the same pattern to catch a 10-pound, 12-ounce lake record rainbow trout at Upper Twin. That record would topple a few years later, but the Garth Flasher had proved it's worth. Hanour used the fly less and less in his quest for big browns, preferring larger baits that resembled small kokanee salmon, the big brown's favorite food at Upper Twin. But for some reason, the Garth Flasher was the lure Hanour tied on his second rod that evening.

Something was charmed that night. The big brown was the third huge fish Hanour had hooked at Upper Twin over the past five years, the first two fish breaking off before he could even get a glimpse of their size. This one didn't get away.

"I was really happy to see him catch that fish," said Jim Reid, owner of Ken's Sporting Goods in Bridgeport, who's known Hanour for over a decade. "He's been obsessed for 20 years, so it's pretty cool to see someone who's earned it make that catch."

And apparently once is not enough. Hanour will be back at Upper Twin before the season closes Nov. 15 to try to catch the 17-7s bigger sister.