THE CORNWALLIS RIVER’S GIANT BROWNS (July 3/98)

Kentville area angler Harold Mahar has lost count of the five- and six-pound trout he landed in 35 years of fishing the Cornwallis River. The larger brown trout he remembers well, a couple of 10-pounders and a 12-pounders that broke a long-standing river record. Then there’s a trout he will never forget since it’s one of the largest browns ever to come from the Cornwallis River.

Fishing with a white bucktail jig on his favourite stretch of river west of Kentville, Mahar caught a magnificent brown trout of 14 and three-quarter pounds. While this was 20 years ago, Mahar still remembers the difficulty he had landing the trout. “It took me almost an hour to get it in,” he said when I talked with him recently.

Mahar’s giant brown isn’t the largest yielded by the Cornwallis, however. In 1970 Gilbert (Gilly) Forsythe of Kentville used a bucktail jig to take a brown equal to Mahar’s monster. Forsythe’s trout weighed 14 pounds, 13 ounces and it was caught in the same section of river as Mahar’s fish.

The Cornwallis River has produced even larger browns and Ralph (Cheetah) Malin, Meadowview, may hold the record. Malin has been fishing the Cornwallis for over 30 years and he counts among his accomplishments a slew of five- and six-pound browns, two 10-pounders and a 12-pound fish. On a spring morning in the mid-70s, Malin used a red bucktail jig to take the unofficial Cornwallis River record, a brown trout weighing 15 and a half pounds.

Malin told me recently that there were witnesses when he caught this fish and there are pictures of it. I’ve called Malin’s trout the “unofficial record” because nobody actually keeps a river log or record book. The only running tally, so to speak, has been kept in this column. Since 1965 I’ve noted here many of the giant brown trout that were taken from the Cornwallis and this may be the only record that exists for future generations of anglers to look at.

This column salutes anglers Cheetah Malin, Harold Mahar and Gilly Forsythe for their angling accomplishments. Honourable mention must go to Coldbrook area angler Doug Graves for a 31 and a half inch brown trout estimated to weigh 15 pounds. Graves caught the fish using a Muddler Minnow in the Lovett Road section of the Cornwallis. Four days after it was caught, and after it had shrunk considerably from being refrigerated, the trout weighed 12 pounds. The fisheries officer who did the weighing estimated that the live weight of the trout was 15 pounds.

Honourable mention must also go to Paul Moors, Tupper Road, Kentville, and Ludie Gallant, Coldbrook, whose largest browns are eight-pounders. Moors has been fishing the Cornwallis for 35 years and like most veteran river men has taken his share of four-, five-, and six-pound browns. Gallant has landed three eight and a half pounders. He tells me that in over three decades of fishing the Cornwallis, he has caught over 100 browns measuring 20 and more inches.

I would be remiss in not mentioning Kentville angler Hugh Aker. In 1960 Aker caught a brown trout just over 10 pounds that stood as the Cornwallis River record for years. Howard Redden, Kentville, is another angler who has fished the Cornwallis for decades and has caught a number of large browns. Some years ago, he took seven-pound fish two nights in a row.

Hundreds of anglers have fished the Cornwallis River since brown trout were introduced in the 40s and I’ve undoubtedly overlooked (or not heard about) the large fish they’ve caught. If readers are aware of anglers who have caught big brown trout, please call or write.

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