Freshwater fishing – ‘Bucket list’ brown trout caught from Fresno County lake

SHAVER LAKE BROWN – Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun with his ‘bucket list’ brown


SHAVER LAKE, FRESNO COUNTY – Five-inch brown trout were planted into Shaver Lake a few years back, but the recent brown landed by Michael Crayne of Valley Rod and Gun in Clovis has been in the lake for far longer than the plant of fingerlings.

Upstream Huntington Lake is well-known for trophy browns from the secretive society that drag their aluminum boats over the first snow of the year to troll big plugs near the shoreline for the possibility of a trophy, but these anglers are sworn to ‘Omerta’ – the code of silence and code of honor and conduct that places importance on silence. Occasionally a large brown will be landed out of either Shaver or Huntington, and the news will break out.

A nearly 12-pound brown trout was landed at Shaver within the past week, possibly the largest brown at the lake on record, but certainly the largest brown within the past several years.


Crayne has been searching for a trophy brown trout all of his life, saying, “I have been trying for this fish since I was a young boy, and it finally happened on Sunday with an 11.88-pound brown on a jerkbait off of boat at Shaver Lake. We were fishing in a small cove for smallmouth bass, and I had previously landed a personal-best smallmouth on a jerkbait.

We were just ready to leave before I made a couple of more casts, and on my second cast, I let it sit and gave it a twitch, and it was hit like a freight train. I thought I was onto a big bass, but after the first run of pulling line, I knew it was someone big. My G-Loomis rod was formed in a U-Turn, and after the third run, I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to revive this fish.

I am a catch-and-release guy, and after we got the big brown to the boat, we tried several times to release the fish. Of course, this was the fish I was looking for a long time, but I was left with mixed feelings as we couldn’t get it to swim away. I will have the fish mounted as an 11.88-pound brown trout is a fish of a lifetime and the one I have been looking for years on end.”

It is a bittersweet feeling when you finally achieve a goal, but your actions result in killing something you love. Hemingway expressed this so well with his character of Santiago and the big marlin in his classic short story, ‘The Old Man and the Sea” Crayne has his priorities in the right place, but we don’t always control the outcome of our actions.

SHAVER LAKE – Home to some big brown trout, and stunning views like this.