Big Brown Trout Contributed Photo

Duane Merrill displays the big brown trout he caught in Tonto Creek.

Duane Merrill heard tales of brown trout living in Tonto Creek.

But in 14 years of fishing in Rim Country and about 10 years angling in Tonto Creek, he’d never caught one.

However, he made up for all those times he left empty handed with quite a fish story of his own recently.

Merrill, who works at Home Depot as the Tuff Shed Representative, snagged a brown trout he estimated to be approximately 29 inches weighing four or five pounds on May 19.

“I measured from my nose to my waist, which is approximately the size of the fish, and it is 29 inches,” he said.

It was an exciting couple of minutes.

“It’s the biggest trout I have ever caught and the first brown trout,” Merrill said. “It gave me a good fight and took about two minutes to reel in.”

It took a pretty lengthy hike to get to the spot where he caught the fish.

“I was a long ways out with few amenities,” Merrill said.

It really wasn’t a fishing trip as the family was really out for a nice Sunday hike.

“The day was more about hiking than fishing and I only fished about an hour and a half total the entire day,” he said.

Merrill, who is married with three children, has lived in Rim Country for 14 years. Everyone in the family loves to fish.

His father was visiting from Las Vegas and was there when he snagged the big fish, which added to the experience.

“It was a blessing to have my father with me,” Merrill said. “I was taught to fish as a child and to catch this special fish after all my time and effort at Tonto Creek was amazing. I will now scratch it off my bucket list.”

The big trout made for an excellent dinner for the family.

“It was so good,” Merrill said.

Contact the reporter at kmorris@payson.com

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