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It was pretty hard to miss the story of Tom Healy’s 41-pound, 7-ounce brown trout caught on hardware in Michigan’s Manistee River in September. The 43.7-inch fish had a girth of 27 inches and broke an IGFA all-tackle record that was 17 years old.
But more intriguing is the technique California fly fisher Hal Janssen uses to land big browns: hunting them in lakes with 2-weight rods and 30-foot leaders. According to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Tom Stienstra, Janssen caught 11 browns over 30 inches last year. He’s on a first-name basis with some of them. “‘They’re so difficult to catch because they don’t act like big rainbow trout,’ Janssen said. ‘They’re very cautious when they feed. They slurp. They don’t attack. Then, when you hook them, they stay in control, they know how to get off, and never once do they think they’re going to get caught.'”