Rocco Minervino has had his afternoons free lately — the 16-year-old’s online classes at Baxter Academy wrap up by noon — and he said he’s spent a lot of time pursuing a new passion: fly fishing.

On Monday, Minervino’s afternoon trip to a York County river paid off in a way he hadn’t expected.

Rocco Minervino, 16, of Portland, shows off the 24-inch brown trout he caught in a York County river on Oct. 27, 2020, while fly fishing. Courtesy of Rocco Minervino

“Honestly, this was the first time I’ve ever fished the river. I pulled in there and I was talking with a local guy who had fished the spot, and he said there were some big [brown trout] in there,” Minervino said. “I asked if they were stocked or native, and he said [the state usually stocks fish] and they run up and down. Some of them are sea-run, because it does go into the ocean down there.”

Armed with that scouting report, Minervino headed down to the river, armed with a 4-weight fly rod, to give it a try.

“I started fishing a pool that he had recommended to me, made a couple of casts, stripping a streamer across the top of the water, and [the fish] came right up for it. I probably fought it for 45 minutes to an hour,” Minervino said.

The fish was a whopper of a brown trout, which measured 24 inches long and weighed an estimated six pounds. Minervino said he was surprised he even landed the fish because it was so large.

“I was thinking the whole time, ‘Oh my gosh. When is this fish going to snap off?'” he said. “I honestly just got lucky enough to pull it up onto land. It was definitely a crazy catch. I couldn’t believe it the whole time.”

Minervino posed for a photo or two, then released the fish.

“I don’t like to keep any big ones like that. I like to let ’em go,” he said.

The fish garnered some fame on fishing social media pages, and some knowledgeable anglers pointed out that the brown trout was likely one of about 50 fish that had been used as brood stock at a state hatchery before being released into the river recently.

Either way, it was quite a battle for Minervino, who just took up fly fishing last winter after a relative introduced him to the sport. Before then, he’d fished a lot at his family’s Sebago Lake marina, catching plenty of feisty smallmouth bass.

“[It’s] fun to catch [fish] on a fly rod because they feel massive every time you hook into one,” Minervino said.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. Today, he's the Outdoors editor for the BDN, a job that allows him to meet up with Maine outdoors enthusiasts in their...