That’s right, that’s right the Bug Chuckers were in search of the Hog Johnson of the North Branch. If you have ever seen the movie Eastern Rises you may have heard the phrase “Hog Johnson”. If not the term Hog Johnson is basically the biggest fish in the river. Steve-o said it best and I quote “Hog Johnson may be a 26 brown or rainbow on the North branch or a 12 inch brook trout on a native trout stream”. This post is about our North Branch float and our hunt for Hog mother trucking Johnson.
We got off to a late start the morning we floated due to booze related activities the night before. The game plan was to drop Steve-o’s rig off at the take out and him and Adam would jump into the back of my rig and we would roll into Barnum. We got to Barnum to launch the rafts at Blue Hole and the whole time we were getting ready I was contemplating if I was going to jump off the high wall with Adam. We got the rafts in the water and as I rowed out and started looking at it more and more the sissy in me came out as I told Adam I was not going to do it. I felt bad that I let him down on not jumping but he was a champ and he went through with it. Hats off to you Adam and this picture is for you. That’s live action folks!
After Adam took the plunge we began the float down stream. The first few runs I looked back and the guys were taking the lines I drew for them and I knew just then that they were going to rock this river. Ryan started off in my boat fishing from the drift while Adam, Steve-o, and Greg were rocking the one man’s. The first ¼ mile Ryan missed several fish on an olive streamer. The fish he missed were holding in pocket water. We floated down a good ways before we got into some fishy water. Ryan had a good beat lined up from the front of my boat missing a couple of fish but landing a Golden.
Since it was such a pretty fish and Lulu never had a fish kiss from a Golden we had to give her the opportunity and lulu decided to give it a frenchy.
After Lulu made out with the Golden which makes sense because Lulu is a Golden we floated down to beach the rafts at the undercut pool. Ryan had one hook up while the rest of us through a few lines to just wait the flies. I still had Ryan in the front of my boat and on the next run Ryan hooked up again on a pheasant tail nymph. This fish was a 14’’ rainbow. He caught this in an area where I was turned onto from some local guides down there.
The next several hundred yards we pushed through because of it being dead water. We got down to the run before we dropped into Robins Nest to have Adam miss a fish and Ryan have one come off when he got it to his side. Both fish being average North Branch rainbows.
I asked the guys if they were ready to run the next set of rapids which is named Robins Nest and Adam and Steve-o were down but Greg was unsure. As you can see in the pictures Greg cowboy up and he was the first to run it. The next few pictures show the guys running the rapids and I apologize for the bad pictures but it was pretty hard to film and take pictures at the same time.
After the white water experience I still had Ryan in the boat to fish a nice 200 yard pocket water beat. Ryan landed one fish out of this run but had several misses. Once again it was another rainbow. We were still in search of Hog Johnson and coming up on cutthroat alley I had big expectations. We beached the boats to take a nice shore lunch. Lunch consisted of Peanut Butter and Jelly along with chips and for dessert was the cheapest chocolate chip cookies the market could offer. While the guys ate I had to get some fishing time in so I started fishing for a riser and after making several casts I connected only to have the fish jump 2 feet out of the water and throw my hook back into last week.
After we fished cutthroat alley I had Steve-o jump into the raft to start fishing from the drift. It wasn’t long until Steve-o was getting into the fish. Adam was close by video with his new go-pro as Steve-o connected with a healthy North Branch Bow. We floated down knowing it was starting to get late and Steve-o and Adam switched out on the front of the raft. Now it was Adams turn to give it a go. We fished hard in water that normally does not produce a lot of fish but Adam and I were determined to hook up on a North Branch beauty. Before we knew it we were in a run that had fish rising all over the place. I rigged his line up with a KG special and two casts were made with missed fish but after some good casting and sweet turtle man determination Adam hooked up. The prettiest fish of the day I apologize to Adam for being to slow on the camera but the picture below is Adam standing there after the fish jumped out of his hands. My bad man but will get her next time.
After Adam caught the last fish of the day we floated down to capture a couple more pictures of the guys running the river.
We rowed up on the take out and beached the rafts for the last time. Steve-o and I took off to Barnum so we could pick my rig up. On our way up we were able to see a sow and two cubs off the side of the road. Got to the rig and back to Bloomington I went. We got the rafts loaded and were on our way back to the casa to enjoy some good times after a great day.
All in all the day went really well. We got into fish but unfortunately none of them were the infamous Hog Johnson that we wanted. The weather was perfect and water conditions were in the mid 50’s and the bug activity was a popping. Many of the fish we hooked into were all on nymphs or emergers. Some of the fish were caught on top but the fish were taking the emergers in many places. The flow was 295 cfs which made a perfect float. If you have the time try fishing the North Branch. In my opinion it is the best water in western Maryland right now and is fishing really well. Thanks for reading and hoped you liked the pictures.
Check out Adam’s leap into the North Branch
KG & Steve-o