It’s not every day in the fishing world that you come across a rainbow trout that could earn you a Master Angler Award. It’s even less common to wind up a record-breaking rainbow as you head towards shore.
Brady Wettlaufer accomplished both feats after bringing a 26.5-inch, 12.5-pound rainbow trout to Steamboat Lake to set a potential lake record on Monday, August 8.
Wettlaufer, owner of Steamboat Fishing Adventures, was on Steamboat Lake with a few customers. He had already guided four trips that day on Steamboat Lake and was exhausted.
He was on his way back to the dock and decided to cast a line in the shallows of the lake to end his day.
Eventually, Wettlaufer hooked a trout, brought it back, and noticed something in its mouth before releasing it back into the water.
“I caught a rainbow and when I pulled it out of the net it regurgitated a little one, which looked like a perch pattern minnow, and so I switched to a perch pattern minnow dynamic and it wasn’t a few hours later and I hooked that fish,” Wettlaufer said.
One of the most attractive qualities of an angler, according to Wettlaufer, is having the ability to read water and read fish.
By identifying trends like what they’re doing and what they’re eating, you can match that to your fishing techniques and, according to Wettlaufer, it can pay dividends.
Changing his lure made all the difference and immediately after catching the fish he could tell he was in for a fight. It took between eight and 10 minutes, but for Wettlaufer it was time well spent.
“He took the line out like crazy and actually rolled me up and came out all the way,” Wettlaufer said. I “threw the boat in reverse and I was able to back up on it and kinda gang up on it and keep the tension on it the whole time. It was just picture perfect and then it kicked kicked to the boat in neutral and kept the tension on him and before you knew it he was there in the net.
Wettlaufer caught sight of the trout’s profile while reeling it with his new Eagle Claw rod and said he had weakened at the knees. He had never seen such a massive fish.
The lure was hooked deep in the corner of the fish’s mouth and ran down the side of its face. This allowed Wettlaufer to easily remove the hook and get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible.
“With a fish having such a big mouth, I’m surprised he didn’t inhale it, but I’m glad he didn’t because I was able to get him out really quickly and then not handle it so much and catch it in the water,” Wettlaufer said.
Before taking it out, Wettlaufer took photos and videos, took measurements on it and weighed it with the scales he had on board.
He submitted the necessary information to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which is verifying that the fish is a record-breaking rainbow trout in Steamboat Lake.
Wettlaufer says the CPW has no record of any larger rainbow trout caught in Steamboat Lake, but says the confirmation process could take some time.
After fishing so many times in the reservoir, Wettlaufer noticed several patterns with the strategies that other anglers use in the lake. They often jump in their boats and head to the other side of the lake to fish.
Wettlaufer thinks the dock area is an extremely overlooked place, especially because the shallow waters are where trout can feed on crayfish and minnows. It only goes about three feet deep, but can result in catching massive trout.
“I’ve been fishing these waters for 22 years, seven years professionally, and I’ve never seen a rainbow like this,” Wettlaufer said. “It’s the biggest trout I’ve ever seen, it’s the biggest trout I’ve ever gotten my hands on.”