Brown Trout Facts

Brown Trout
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Science Name: Salmo trutta
Other Names: German brown, Loch Leven trout, brownie, sea trout
Ideal Temp: 56 to 66
World Record: 40 lbs. 4 ounces Ark.
Environment: stream, lake
Techniques: light fly, light tackle, casting

Introduced from Europe to much of the United States during the late 1800's, the brown trout has adapted well, tolerating warmer water than the native brookie. Sides have a light brown or yellow cast with black spots and usually some orange or red spots. The spots often have whitish to bluish halos. The tail generally lacks spots, but may have a few. Subspecies Brown trout were originally introduced from Germany and Scotland, and subspecies designations given to stocks from each country. But because of widespread stocking and genetic mixing, these subspecies are no longer recognized. Sea-run browns are not considered a subspecies. Brown trout are long, narrow and moderately compressed. The color varies from an olive-green to a dark-brown back, silver-yellowish sides and yellow-whitish belly. The dorsal fin in front of the tail has a reddish hue. There are numerous red and dark brown spots scattered on the head, body and gill cover. The tail is slightly forked in young fish and square in older trout. Depending on the environment, their average weights range between 2.5 and 10 pounds, with an average length between 14 and 24 inches.

Brown trout hybridize with brook trout to produce the tiger trout.

Table Quality:
The meat usually has a pinkish or yellowish hue and a good flavor. But it is not considered as good as that of brook trout. Like most trout, they are best when eaten fresh. Some people experience a stronger "fishy" flavor when trout have been frozen.

Sporting Qualities:
A strong fighter, but not as acrobatic as a rainbow. It is the wariest of all trout; big ones feed only at night. They are a cautious fish. They utilize the turbulent river environment for concealment, making them difficult to catch. Browns can be taken with a variety of dry flies, nymphs, streamers, artificial flies, spoons and plugs. But many of the biggest ones are caught on live bait, especially night-crawlers and large minnows. Brown trout are best fished at dusk or early dawn. Due to the diverse conditions different brown trout populations live in, many forms of angling are productive, but two of the more popular are flyfishing and trolling.

Brown trout tend to live in cool rivers and lakes with temperatures between 55 and 65 F. They hide in undercut banks, in stream debris, surface turbulence, and under rocks. Adults live in pools while the young tend to live in pools and rocky shoals or sandbars.

Food Habits:
Brown trout are carnivorous, bottom feeders and prefer to eat at dusk or night. The young feed on aquatic insects. Food is carried to them by the river or stream current. From a small area, possibly only three yards long and one yard wide, they are able to obtain all the food they require. As they grow in size their diet changes. Adult brown trout are voracious and eat food items such as worms, crustaceans, crayfish, mollusks, and salamanders. Some of the larger fish feed on the younger, smaller brown trout, frogs, birds, and mice, if available.

Fly Hatch Chart

Best Fly Fishing Boxes

Spawning Habits:
Spawning takes place from October to February for the brown trout. They return to the streams where they hatched to spawn. Their homing skills enable them to find their way upstream to spawn after many years and traveling from many miles away. Most often, brown trout choose spawning sites with gravel bottoms and highly oxygenated water flow. By whipping her tail, the female digs a shallow pit in the gravel bed of a riffle, then deposits 4,000 to 12,000 eggs into the nest, or redd. After the male deposits his milt into the pit, fertilizing the eggs, the female moves upstream to make another. While making another redd, the displaced gravel covers the eggs downstream, thus protecting them throughout the winter. The eggs develop slowly over the winter months, hatching in the spring. Both the female and the male may spawn at the same site several times. .

Age and Growth:
Brown trout grow rapidly, but are not particularly long-lived. Few survive beyond age 8. Lake dwelling browns grow much faster than stream browns; males faster than females.

Tips for Fishing:
Fishing is most successful in the fall through late spring, or during early and late hours during the summer. Brown trout are usually pursued with fly fishing equipment, with patterns that match local hatches or nymphs of caddisfly, stonefly, or mayfly (see here). Fly patterns of ants, crickets, grasshoppers, and "wooly buggers" also produce nice catches. Live bait such as nightcrawlers, leeches, crayfish, minnows, and maggots can also be productive. Also, brown trout perform well on Powerbaits.

Range for Brown Trout

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