Monster Trout Strikes!

Tiny, little jig lures great big fish from an itty bitty East Verde pool

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There's something fishy about Aaron Cox.

He learned the angler's art in Alaska and assorted big rivers, using a jig on a spin caster to torment brawny steelhead, returning from the ocean.

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Aaron Cox displays a near-record rainbow trout pulled out of the East Verde.

But life is funny.

Never know where you'll wash up.

About a year ago, the digital composer moved to Strawberry to stay with his parents.

Now, Aaron turns the sounds of cicadas buzzing and water gurgling into sound tracks for video games. A studio musician who built his own digital electric slide guitar, he transforms assorted nature sounds into music in a recording studio in a room of the house -- using the Internet to communicate with clients in Oregon and Alaska.

Once a week at least, he takes his tacklebox of steelhead jigs and treats himself to a nice little fishing adventure -- with weird little gurglings and hummings sounding a regular symphony all around.

He loves Blue Ridge Reservoir and West Clear Creek. But he's not above dropping a hook in the East Verde.

A nice barbless hook -- hand trimmed. And a steelhead jig.

Absurd notion, in the tiny East Verde -- with its wriggle of pan-sized hatchery trout, stocked weekly. Damn thing darn near dries up at certain times of the year. Still, can't stop a man from dropping a hook and dreaming. If you can make music from a cicada's buzz, why not jig for steelheads in a trout puddle?

So Cox on Friday set off from the Control Road near Whispering Pines, near where the road crosses Houston Mesa Road. He worked his way upstream a mile. Heck, maybe a mile and a half. A wary fisherman will never be too precise in such matters. But he went way up beyond where the most dedicated fish stocker would ever go.

He found a nice, four-foot-deep hole in the little stream, which on Friday was flowing at about 3 cubic feet per second -- just enough to get the pavement on the road crossings wet.

He cast his jig upon the waters, working the deepest part of the pool -- peering into the featureless shade of the overhang. The water was a trifle murky, due to recent rains -- so he couldn't see to the bottom.

Then the monster rose. "He was chasing it," recalls Cox.

He played that fish for a couple of minutes, knowing Moby Rainbow was just barely hooked.

Cox swooshed the net just as the hook gave way and caught the prodigious piscine from the bank.

Recall: the pond is 48 inches deep.

Turns out, the trout is 23.5 inches long.

That's about eight pounds worth of trout -- caught from the high reaches of the pint-sized East Verde.

The state record for a rainbow trout is 32.5 inches long, a 15-pound-9.12-ounce behemoth pulled out of Willow Springs Lake by Harold Wright of Sun City in September of 2006, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department's Web site.

Cox very nearly put him back.

"I was very tempted," he says. "That would have been a good thing."

Ah, but the flesh is weak.

"I like to smoke my fish," he concedes.

He would have had the beast mounted, but the $300 price tag deterred him.

So he phoned the Roundup and had Moby Trout immortalized posed in front of the river near East Verde Estates.

Then he meandered off through the chorus of crickets, to fire up the smoker.

And by now, there's most certainly something fishy about Aaron Cox.

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