When avid bass angler Jeff Nielsen fished Horsetooth Reservoir, he never expected that a huge cutbow trout would be his trophy catch for the day. Nielsen, who fishes Horsetooth regularly, says that he knew something was amiss as soon as the monster fish grabbed his line.
“I knew it was a good fish as soon as I hooked him,” said Nielsen. “Because of the weight, I figured it wasn’t a smallmouth. And because of the fight, I knew it wasn’t a walleye. I guessed pretty quickly that I had a bruiser trout on my line.”
Nielsen hooked the cutbow on a drop-shot plastic-worm rig, a light-weight spinning rod and 6-pound line — a common setup for bass but an unlikely way to lure and land a big trout. The trout bullied the light tackle and after several minutes of careful give and take, Nielsen, who was fishing by himself, finally landed the bruiser bow with help from friends in a nearby boat.
“This fish was really strong and the battle was amazing,” said Nielsen. “If it wasn’t for a few fishing buddies on another boat that offered to jump on board my Ranger and help with the net, I don’t know if I would have gracefully landed him.”
After a few quick photos, and without a second thought, Nielsen released the trophy cutbow back into the water.
“I wanted to turn the fish loose unscathed, so I didn’t dally with taking measurements or weight,” said Nielsen. “The fish swam off strong. Hopefully, another angler gets to tangle with that fish. If they do, I hope they will also turn him loose. A trophy like that is meant to continue swimming in my opinion.”
Although Nielsen did not take weight or length measurements, he estimates the fat fish tipped the scales at around 8-9 pounds. For most anglers, a trout of this size would be the fish of a lifetime. For Nielsen, the big trout was merely a fun diversion from the primary task at hand: chasing bass.
“I don’t generally target trout,” said Nielsen. “One of the many cool things about fishing in Colorado are all the different species available to us. You never know what you’re going to catch. But, truth be told, I would rather catch a 5-pound smallmouth than an 8-pound trout any day of the week.”