Brown Trout

by Fly Fisherman

Brown Trout
The third kind you may run into is the Brown trout (Salmo trutta). This is the famous fly fishing trout imported from Great Britain and Europe. The Loch Leven strains of Brown trout come from Scotland, where the world’s record fish of this breed was caught ‘way back in 1866 in Loch Awe by W. Muir; it weighed 39 lbs. 8 ozs.
When first brought into this country, Brown trout were received with marked antipathy. A great hue and cry went up that the Browns would drive our much more beautiful Eastern Brooks out of existence. This did not prove to be so, although the stocking of Brown trout in cold water lakes did prove a mistake. Certain other situations developed where it became plain that the introduction of Brown trout—in fact, any kind of non-native trout—was poor policy.
On the whole, Brown trout, when planted in waters suitable to them, provide fine trout fishing. They are now found in practically every state which has trout fishing of any kind.

Browns take flies, especially dry flies, rather better than any other trout. This is particularly apparent with the larger trout. Big Eastern Brook trout and big Rainbows are inclined to become almost exclusively minnow, or at least bottom, feeders. Browns seem to like a floating insect dessert with their meals more regularly.
Another good point about Brown trout, from the fish management standpoint, is that big Browns become much more selective about the flies and lures they will take than do other kinds. This makes them harder to catch and thus keeps them from being fished out so fast in heavily whipped streams.

When you first catch Brown trout, you might be puzzled to know what they are because they have red spots somewhat like Brook trout. If you make the vomer-bone test I told you about, you will see at once that this fish is not a char as is the Brook trout. Brown trout are of a general brownish yellow color with many large dark spots on a lighter background and with only a few red spots. The Brown trout has larger scales. You can see them with the naked eye. Eastern Brooks have scales so fine you’ll probably think they don’t have any—they do, but you almost need a microscope to see them. Then, too, Browns do not have the typical dark olive, worm-like markings on the back. The lower fins on Brown trout are pale yellow to white but do not show the spectacular white edgings with the brilliant orange or red color so characteristic of Brook trout.
Browns are usually found in larger, deeper, warmer-water streams than those best for Eastern Brook trout. If in the same stream with Brook trout, the Browns will be in the slower-water pools and pockets above or below boulders rather than in the faster current of the riffles. If in the same stream, Rainbows will usually be in still faster, more turbulent water. Brown trout do fairly well in some lakes and ponds but are not well adapted to cold water lakes. Browns will stand a maximum temperature of 81° F.
Like other trout, Browns move upstream to spawn and downstream for the wintcr. They are a fall breeding fish—from October to December. Browns, however, prefer larger headwater streams for breeding purposes—those 10 to 30 feet wide as against the preference of Brook trout for much smaller spawning brooks—those only 1 to 3 ft. wide.
Brown trout usually run from 1/4 to 4 lbs. but grow up to 20 lbs. and larger—all the way up to that tremendous record fish of 39 lbs. 8 oz.
Certainly our anglers are lucky to have Brown trout in a good many of our heavily-fished meadow and bottom-land streams.

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