Paw's Big Brown
This picture is of a mount of a 24" brown trout that was caught by my Great Grandfather, Theodore Roosevelt Burleson, while fishing on the Toe River near Powder Mill, North Carolina. My Uncle, Alfred Cornett brought it to a recent family gathering and the camera phone I used to photograph it could not come close to doing it the justice that it deserved. Alfred was kind enough to tell me the story behind the fish.
Alfred had been driving along the river when he saw T.R.'s truck parked near the dam. He got out to see if T.R. or "Paw" as we all called him, was having any luck. Paw didn't have much to say about how the fishing was going that day as he sat on the river bank smoking a bowl of half and half from his signature pipe. Alfred went on about his business but couldn't help thinking that his Grandfather had been a bit too close mouthed about how the fish were biting. He knew from experience that if T.R. was fishing in a spot it most likely held a large trout.
Later on Alfred would find out the rest of the story. He had pulled up to the fishing hole just moments after the big brown had broken Paw's line. Paw must have been fuming at having let such a large fish get the better of him but didn't dare say a word about it to anyone (even his grandson) lest he give away his secret fishing spot. He came back later in the week and inevitably caught the monster trout and as was the custom of a time before anyone ever thought about catch and release, promptly took it home and put it in his freezer. When Alfred saw how large the fish actually was he took it to the taxidermist and had it mounted for Paw and later for me to appreciate.
I wonder if when that brown trout lost his battle with my Great Grandfather so many years ago, he knew that in doing so he would bring so much enjoyment to so many generations for many years to come. How many other trophies of the past can carry their magic so far into the future? I can only wish that some day my son looks back at some of my photo's and stories and feels the same way that I do about that dusty old mounted brown trout.