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It’s a tall tale but true

Posted in: News Media
Sep 22, 2010
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Phoenix man gets trout, elk and pronghorn of a lifetime

PHOENIX – For hunting and fishing tales, Christopher Tom of Phoenix has a true-life whopper that will be tough to top around any campfire.

It started almost two weeks ago when he shot a nice pronghorn antelope east of St. Johns during the muzzleloader hunt.

In Arizona, just getting drawn for antelope is a feat in itself. Harvesting one of these high grassland speedsters with a muzzleloader is quite an accomplishment.

But that’s just the start of his amazing campfire tale.

Chris was one of the lucky few with an early season bull tag this year, you know, the hunt tag everyone covets and hopes to get at least once in their lifetime -- if they are lucky.

On the opening day of the early elk hunt, Chris shot a 7x6 trophy bull elk (he estimates in the 340 point range) on Escudilla Mountain in eastern Arizona during the elk rut. It was the bull elk of a lifetime. It took him almost two days to pack out the huge wapiti from the Escudilla Wilderness.

But there’s still more to this epic outdoor tale.

Still glowing from his antelope and elk harvests, Chris had some vacation time remaining. He and his dad wanted to continue enjoying the high country and went trout fishing along the East Fork of the Black River above Buffalo Crossing in the cool White Mountains.

Using a small Rebel crawfish lure on 2-pound test Spider Wire, Chris was working a small pool when he thought he had become snagged.

The snag moved – then kept moving. The battle was on.

At first Chris thought he had hooked into a good sized Apache trout – he and his dad had caught a number of small native Apache trout in the stream. But what he finally pulled out of the East Fork was a monster 13.62-pound brown trout measuring 30 inches long.

“We had no idea how big it was or even that it was a brown trout until we finally pulled it out of the stream,” Chris said. “We could hardly believe such a big brown was in the stream.”

Chris is ecstatic. “I caught the fish of a lifetime, shot a huge bull and even got an antelope. It was an astounding couple of weeks,” Chris said, adding, “It’s like something out of a story book.”

Chris felt so lucky that he went out and bought twenty dollars worth of Arizona Lottery tickets, but not before he took the hook-jawed brown to the Pinetop office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department to enter it for the Big Fish of the Year honors.

Chris now has the leading entry for the Big Fish of the Year for brown trout in Arizona, but the huge fish is still about 8 pounds shy of the overall state record. In 1999, Bryce Sisson of Prescott caught a 22-pound 14.5-ounce, 36-inch-long brown out of Reservation Lake on the White Mountain Apache Reservation.

Chris added that he caught the big brown in a pool immediately adjacent to a campground along the East Fork. “There was a group of guys from Texas camping there. They said they have been coming to the same spot for 15 years and never caught fish anywhere near that big.”

No doubt the visiting Texans will have fun at home telling the tale of the huge hook-jawed brown caught right next to their traditional camping spot – by someone else.

Some tall tales are actually true.

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