Back in late spring, I had made plans to take the family up to Newberry Crater for some camping, sightseeing, hiking, and fishing. They had never been there before so I was excited to share with them one of my favorite places in Oregon. Too my surprise after looking online, there were no campsites available in any of the East Lake campgrounds! I quickly checked at Paulina Lake, and luckily there were a few open spots left in the Paulina Lake Campground. I couldn’t believe it! What happened to the days of loading up the truck for the weekend and heading out somewhere to camp? Evidently, those days are long gone!
With our campsite spot reserved, we had our date set and counted down the days. Finally the day arrived and we were leaving our home in Dundee for the prestigious Newberry Crater. We arrived at our destination around noon on a Friday. Once our tent camp was setup, we headed out for the Paulina Lake Loop Trailhead. This is something that I have always wanted to do and to share that with the family made it even more special. Although relatively easy, the hike was still 7.5 miles long. I realize this is a fishing report, but I just have to say what a beautiful hike this was! My family really enjoyed it and we saw some incredible scenery along the way, as well as spent some time in the hot springs on the east side of the lake. I would definitely recommend this hike to our TTH Readers!
After our hike, we made dinner and ate. The kids helped me haul the boat over to East Lake and launch for the night. We headed back to camp but would unfortunately not be able to enjoy a nice campfire due to the strict fire restrictions that had just been issued the night before we arrived. That was a bummer, but we still made the most of it before we crawled off to bed in our tent.
The next morning came early, as they usually do. I was going to meet Jerry Brown at his camper in the RV park at East. I have gotten to know Jerry well over this past year or so, as his granddaughters play softball with Madyson. Jerry had never been TTHing before, so I was excited at the opportunity to hopefully put him on a big trout! Jerry and I met up and then headed to my boat. The morning was pretty slow, but we managed to pull up some smaller browns. Finally around 10:45 AM, Jerry hooked and landed a respectable 20″, 3-1/2 pound Hookjaw. He was tickled with the catch, and as it turned out, that would remain our best fish of the day. We headed in around noon and I returned to camp.
After a late breakfast with the Fam, we drove to Paulina Falls and then up to the Caldera Rim for a look at both lakes. Paulina Falls is absolutely beautiful, especially the creek above the falls. We hiked up it for a ways and enjoyed the scenery. Obviously, the view from the Caldera Rim is incredible and highly recommended. We had a great time and then drove down and hiked the Obsidian Flow trail. Wyatt was thrilled to see all the black shiny Obsidian glistening in the hot sun.
Later that evening, I took the entire family out for a fishing trip on East, but the damn wind was just relentless. Sometimes summer evenings can be that way. We got tossed and turned in my little boat, and I could tell not everyone was enjoying this boat ride! Haha! The bites were few and far between as well, so we called it an early night and headed back to camp for dinner. As it turned out, a change in the weather was blowing in that evening and when I awoke in the morning to the sound of rain drops on our tent I wasn’t sure how the kids were going to react. The rain was off and on but fairly light, so we slept in an extra hour and then rallied and drove over to East to fish for the morning.
The kids and I loaded the gear into my Smokercraft and pushed off the dock. We quickly tied on our favorite artificial offerings added some scent and sent them deep in hopes of landing a big one! The weather was cloudy, cool, and lightly raining. Not what you would expect for an August morning. The kids were bundled up and the feel of Fall was in the air. We made our trolling path almost around the lake with only a couple of short strikes to show for our efforts. Once by the Cliffs, I told Madyson let’s pull them up and check for weeds. As I always do, I encouraged Mady to rip and reel and let the lure sit for a bit while on the retrieve. About halfway in, Mady’s rod slams down HARD, and she hollers “Dad, I got a fish!”. I look over and see the weight of a damn good fish on the other end. She battles it for a while and then the dreaded sight of SLACK immediately happens! Noooooooooo…………….Mady yells Dad I think it came off! Ahhhh bummer! We finish reeling in and sure enough no fish.
I begin to question the color pattern I had been running on this cold and cloudy day. Instead of bright and flashy colors, why not run a solid color pattern with duller paint and less flash. I dig into my ridiculous amount of lures for just the right one and finally decide on a color pattern and lure type that was inspired by good buddy and fellow TTH’r Danny Lippis fresh off a recent report to the Crater himself. I quickly snap in the lure add some Pro-Cure scent and kick up the outboard while lowering down our offerings. In less than 5 minutes, I’m fast into a descent little brown. After a quick battle, I release the 18 incher and we are off again.
In less than 100 yards, I’m soon trolling side by side with another boat who has the shoreline. Out ahead of us is a rental party barge. As Captains, we have all been there. What do you do? Slug through it, cut bait, or hold your ground? East is a pretty big lake and most early mornings there are not that many boats on the water and this was no exception. I’m thinking to myself “why in the hell am I battling two boats in this small area of the lake for?!”. Finally, I cut left away from the boat I’m side by side with and head straight out across deep open water in hopes of getting ahead of the party barge. I kick up the motor to 3.2 mph and we line out. We probably went a couple hundred feet and I remember looking down at the fish finder as it read 80 feet deep. All of a sudden, my rod goes over HARD and I scramble to get it out of the holder!!! After a quick struggle, I free the rod and feel the weight of a BIG fish on the other end. After a quick set jerk, I holler to Wyatt come fight this fish! Wyatt jumps up and grabs the pole and starts cranking away. My son has not caught a whole lot of fish so far in his young 12 years of age. In fact, his biggest trout to date was a 7 pound laker he caught earlier this summer at Crescent and his biggest brown was a 4 pounder he caught when he was just a little tyke at Wickiup. I always encourage him to come along, but he would rather stay and play in camp or sleep in most of the time. The older he gets though, I can tell he enjoys it more and more so of course Dad is excited about that! Anyhow, back to the fight! Wyatt is reeling away and not making any headway on this fish. I’m supporting the rod up for him because of how powerful and heavy this fish is. I do my best to coach him on the battle and tell him he has to watch the reel to see if line is spooling as he is reeling. We have all been there as parents and it is not easy to learn on the job! After about 10 minutes, he asks me if we are getting close. I laugh and say you still have over 250 feet left of line out buddy! Haha! He says “Dad, I’m getting tired!”. I tell him take a break and I will fight the fish for a while. I take over and once again feel the strength and power of this fish. He goes on a line peeling run of 50 feet and then once again I gain control and gain it back. After 5 minutes or so, I hand the rod back to Wyatt. By this time, the beast is getting worn down and Wyatt is gaining line. Finally we are into the 12lb. Maxima mono-filament leader. I get nervous knowing Wyatt is still very green at handling these big fish near the end of the line, so I have him hand me the pole. Pretty soon we can see the glow of a BIG brown just below the rippling waters of East Lake! Then I could see the kype of a male brown trout and instantly I knew this was the biggest Hookjaw from East Lake to ever come to my boat. The big boy was hooked good so that was encouraging. He made a couple of passes and was soon circling on his side 10 feet or so from the boat. I told Madyson “Ok, when I say go, I’m going to hand you the rod, and I will take the net from you”. At the word “Go”, we made the successful swap and she was soon backing up slowly in the boat leading the big Hookjaw towards my out-stretched net. In one quick scoop, the big guy fell into the rubber net and we had our Prize!!!
I whooped and hollered and the kids high-fived one another! It was truly an electric moment and one we will NEVER forget! To this day, it still gives me goosebumps. What a magical moment to share with my kids and to think we all had a hand in landing this monster brown trout made it even more incredible. Once our adrenaline’s started to subside, I grabbed my Boga-grip scale and weighed the fish in the net. The scale bounced from 16-1/2 to 16 pounds while he kicked and thrashed in the net. Once calm, the scale settled at a hair over the 16 pound tick mark, so after deducting 5-1/2 pounds for the net weight, we knew Wyatt had his first ever brown over the 10 pound mark at 10-1/2 pounds!!! WOW………what an Incredible Fish! We hugged and cheered and celebrated some more. 🙂 I grabbed my cloth tape and got an overall length of 31 inches! I checked his girth and found a 17 inch measurement. Surely a trophy brown by any standards. We then took some incredible pictures and seized the moment the best we could. I kept the fish fresh and asked Wyatt multiple times if he wanted to keep this beauty or let him go. After much consideration, Wyatt chose to keep this guy and have him mounted to honor and remember for the rest of our lives. We were solid with the decision and proceeded to take multiple close up pics for the taxidermist.
With our blessed prize securely in the boat, I quickly made the decision to call it a day. The kids readily agreed and soon we were on our way to shore. Back at camp, Mom could not believe her eyes and hugged Wyatt like any proud Mom would. It was definitely a special moment for the Daniels Family and one I will NEVER forget. Thank you Lord for this miracle fish!
Thanks for reading and I hope you land that special fish on your next outing!
“Browns – Coyotes of the Fishing World!”