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Fin-Telligence: Brown Trout

Left to their own devices, brown trout (salmo trutta) would own the world’s freshwater. They’re aggressive, voracious predators that start young, picking off insects and invertebrates that inhabit the same streams, rivers, and lakes. Bigger specimens (and they DO get big: more than 40 lbs.) make life miserable for their smaller neighbors, snacking happily on fish, frogs, and pretty much anything else that annoys them.

 

The reason brown trout haven’t emptied the waters of all their rivals is that they are delicious — and fun to catch — themselves. Between people and predators, very few brownies make it beyond a 16″-20″ slot.

 

And that’s why there’s a whole subculture of reelers that chase not only brown trout, but the big, gold, spotted monsters that’ve eluded capture and predation for years. Trophy browns are an addiction that nobody’s found a cure for.

Brown trout surfacing in a crystal clear creek.

If you want to see for yourself, here are a few things you should probably know before you go.

Where are they?

Once limited to their original Central European range, brown trout have now spread across the globe. They inhabit streams, rivers, and lakes and can tolerate water temperatures to the mid-80s if there’s enough oxygen (i.e., fast-moving streams). Water that’s below 68° F. is ideal, which means higher latitudes and altitudes result in the best fisheries.

the U.S., brown trout eggs were brought over from Germany and Scotland. After the German and Scottish eggs were hybridized and hatched, what’s commonly called the “generic American brown trout” was introduced into Michigan’s Baldwin River in the late 19th Century. Since then, they’ve spread to the mountainous areas of the country, as well as the Upper Midwest thanks to management plans and angling enthusiasm.

Whether you’re fishing the Sierra Nevadas, Ozarks, InterMountain Range, Appalachians, or Northeast Iowa, you’ll find brown trout.

Brown trout who are resident in lakes and reservoirs will migrate up rivers to spawn and return to their homewaters afterward. Each season the trip makes these brood trout bigger and stronger — and smarter. They’re essentially the brown trout equivalent of a steelhead.

What do they eat?

Brown trout are opportunistic predators. But they’re also wily and wary. If a presentation doesn’t look natural, a brownie’s likely to give it a look and turn away in disdain.

What you throw out should be dictated by where you’re fishing,

what time of year it is, and the size of the trout you’re targeting. I’ve caught 12 to 16-inchers in the midwest on waxworms and salmon eggs. Chelsea Baum, a fly reeler in Northern California has had luck with nymphing patterns on the Truckee River.

Monster-hunter Andrew Engel has reeled in beefy browns with baitfish and even mouse presentations to pre-spawn trout on his fly rig.

 

Think about what’s natural on the water you’re fishing. Using a spinning reel and see a grasshopper on the bank? Put it on a hook and try your luck. What’s hatching in the water? Pick the fly of the season. Looking for bigger trout? Figure out the baitfish patterns for your chosen fishing spot.

Location, season, size

Andrew Engel takes a photo before the release. @TheFlyDudes

How Big Do They Get?

In spite of their difficulty to catch, brown trout get exceedingly more rare and harder to land as they get bigger. So, if you’re regularly catching 24″, 4-pounders, you’re already in a small minority. But they get bigger. Much bigger. And that drives many reelers absolutely bonkers. They make thousands of casts, ignoring smaller specimens, just to hook a hulking brown. And hopefully put it back after the battle.

Thanks in part to catch-and-release fishing, the world brown trout record has been set and set again several times in the past 25 years. To-wit:

  • 1992: 40 lbs., 4 oz., Howard “Rip” Collins, Little Red River, Arkansas
  • 2009: 41 lbs., 7 oz., Tom Healy, Big Manistee River, Michigan
  • 2010: 41 lbs, 8 oz., Roger Hellen, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin (still the U.S. record)
  • 2013: 42 lbs., 1 oz., Otwin Kandolf, Ohau Canal, New Zealand

The big ones are out there. Go get ’em! Check out our Brown Trout Tips and Hacks this Friday for some suggestions on just how to go about it.

How Do They Taste?

Like any trout, browns are delicious. And given how hard it can be to land one, a brown on the grill may taste just little bit better than the rainbow next to it.

Try a simple preparation. Gut and dehead the fish. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into the body cavity, spread salt and olive oil on the skin. Wrap the fish in foil and toss it on the grill until the flesh is flaky. Eat smugly.

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T-Roy’s Cast for Kids practice run

When Cast for Kids asked T-Roy to participate this year…of course he said yes. We joined him on the day before during his practice run and he showed us a little bit of the old fashioned patience you need when the fish are giving you trouble.

 

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GOING H2O with TONY LUDOVICO – THE OCEAN GHOST

By Adam Rocke

Behind the lens of a low-volume mask, probing eyes stare down into the blue abyss. Those eyes have serious mileage on them, and have seen things most of us could only dream of—or be afraid to dream of! And yet here they are once again, on the lookout, scanning, searching, hoping…

In an instant, Tony Ludovico fills his lungs to capacity courtesy of a simple plastic tube, gracefully arches his back, and slides beneath the waves. Smooth, powerful kicks of his long, carbon fiber fins drop him twenty feet in less time than it took you to read this. Although his surroundings are considerably darker, there’s still enough ambient light to accomplish the task at hand — capturing the perfect image.

For air-breathers like Tony and the rest of humanity, the ocean is fraught with peril. Here, Man is not the apex predator he is on land, and all those who dare to enter do so with considerable risk, willingly becoming part of the food chain. However, in this beautiful yet unforgiving environment, toothy predators represent merely a fraction of the danger. There are many ways to die when blue sky yields to blue water.

Unfortunately, Tony doesn’t have nine lives—and the one he’s got has come damn close to being extinguished more times than a barracuda has teeth. But despite the innumerable hazards and mind-numbing uncertainty that go hand-in-hand with every descent, Tony couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

With a career spanning three decades, Tony Ludovico is among the world’s most accomplished professional underwater photographers and videographers. What separates Tony from the other elite aquatic shooters is that he’s the only one who plies his trade without benefit of scuba gear. Tony’s minimalist approach has nothing to do with machismo; it’s all about doing everything in his power to avoid being an interloper in a world where Man doesn’t belong. That requires Casper-like invisibility when he’s there, and leaving zero trace of his presence once he’s exited the brine. If he gets it right, the only evidence he was ever there will be the images he captured. If he gets it wrong, well, Poseidon tends to hang onto his trophies. Fortunately for us, Tony never gets it wrong. In that respect, Tony Ludovico is the rarest of the rare: a true aquatic unicorn. Or better yet, an ocean ghost.

Tony is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades, honoring both his artistic eye along with his tireless conservation efforts. His work can be found in virtually every nook and cranny of the globe, in both commercial campaigns and private collections.

From Nova Scotia, where 1,000-pound bluefin tuna sped at him like finned Greyhound buses; to Isla Mujeres, Mexico, where he hovered amid enormous bait balls as nimble sailfish sliced and diced their way through like scaled Zorros; to the Galapagos Islands, where he danced an underwater Waltz with majestic manta rays, and played tag with monstrous but gentle whale sharks; to the mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys, where air-depleted lungs forced him to surface into a barrel’s-eye-view of a drug-runner’s AK-47…
Awesome. Incredible. Unimaginable. Yet it’s all just another day at the office for Tony Ludovico.

Now, Tony’s opening up a secret door and inviting us all inside for a look at the amazing undersea world he knows so well—a world we know so little about.

Better hold your breath. It’s going to be an incredible journey!

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GIVEAWAY!!! w/ Flyfishing Flygirls

 

Like our page and follow flyfishing Flygirls for a chance to win. And tag your friends in this post…that’s how you will get followers

Enter to win below!!!

 

 

 

 

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Secret Texas Bass Fishing Paradise with T Roy

There is a lake with massive bass somewhere in Texas. I mean, we are talking 14 pounders. T-Roy got an invite and he, in turn, invited us. He didn’t land the 14 pounder but with a 30+ pound haul for the day, he’s not complaining. And neither are we.

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Win a 12′ Tenkara Rod from Causwell

GIVEAWAY!!

Win a 12′ Tenkara Rod with Storage Tube from Causwell!

A 12′ telescoping Causwell Tenkara rod. Fishing made simple for hitting more open water. Best suited for fishing with dry flies or light streamers.

  • 12′ rod – 6:4 action
  • Carbon fiber rod telescopes from 20” to 12’
  • 12′ leader
  • Cork handle
  • 192 g – (6.7oz)
  • 84 g – rod only
  • Fiberglass “cigar tube” with aluminum end caps
  • Protective cloth wrap

 














Win a 12′ Tenkara Rod with Storage Tube from Reelerz and Causwell





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Outdoors Passion Fuels T-Roy Broussard

By David A. Brown

Ask him his profession and T-Roy Broussard will tell you he’s a fireman. Truth – he’s served the Port Arthur Department for 25 years, the past decade as Captain. But ask him about his passion and that’s when the colorful details comes surging forward like a bull gator on a short trap line.

Like a deep bowl of filet gumbo, Broussard’s is a life steeped in southern authenticity and seasoned with accolades like the world duck calling championships he won at 13 and 16. Having spent his entire life in southeastern Texas, the hunt for feathered, fury and scaled quarry has infused his very being since he was old enough to walk.

These lessons, the encouragement, the outdoors heritage he so dearly loves; Broussard credits it all to His late father, Donnie Broussard, who built him his first boat at age 7. The 14-foot pirogue with a 4-hp outboard pales in comparison to the 600-hp airboat in which he now traverses the Texas swamps; but for a wide-eyed adventure seeker, it was Huck Finn’s river raft.

“Mom and dad would drop me off in the morning and the only rule I had was to make sure I was back by dark,” Broussard said. “That afforded me the opportunity to learn everything I know about the outdoors at a young age.”

Those experiences would serve him well when Texas reopened alligator hunting in 1984. His dad secured a bunch of tags and built a trapping business that Broussard took over in 2005. Now, his “Texas Swamp Stompers” company, which includes a guiding component, is the state’s largest private gator hunting operation.

In 2012, this hard-earned notoriety attracted an invitation to join the History Channel’s gritty reality show, Swamp People. For two seasons, Broussard added a well-received Texas element to the Louisiana-based show and broadened the intrigue with his no-nonsense brand of gator wrangling.

Broussard would leave reality TV in 2014 to pursue his longstanding dream of turning his lifetime love of bass fishing into a professional angling career. Finishing 10th in the FLW Rayovac Series Texas Division earned him a spot on the FLW Tour – an opportunity he’s now aggressively developing through focused skill development and exhaustive study of the nation’s top fisheries.

“I’m getting to live the dream by fishing against guys who are my heroes,” Broussard said. “I’m like a little kid in the candy store, but at the same time, I have a platform to share my personal faith and encourage others to enjoy hunting and fishing with their family.”

Broussard’s biggest bass weighed 11 pounds, 14 ounces. His biggest gator went nearly 13 1/2 feet. For success with a rod and reel, Broussard follows the same principles that have guided 32 years of gator-catching:

 

  • Devote the time and energy to build success from the ground-up.
  • Start and finish the job 150 percent committed.
  • Maintain the physical ability to do the work and the mental toughness to focus on the objective.

 

Broussard’s No. 1 rule of gator hunting: “Never, ever wrap the line around your hand or step on the coil. There’s no one on this earth that can stop an alligator when he runs.”

That being said, Broussard once stumbled and fell onto a lively 10-footer and escaped relatively unscathed. That’s not sensationalism; it’s not boast. It’s T-Roy Broussard every minute of every day, regardless of who’s watching.

That’s what it takes to challenge grown gators, walk into burning buildings and spend long, lonely days on the road with the sole intent of getting home to his wife Dana and 6-year-old daughter Mallory.

That’s a man with the strength of body and mind to handle tough jobs; yet the kindness of heart and soulful sincerity to gladly use his position to educate and encourage others to share his love for the great outdoors – ideally, without the falling on gators thing.

 

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Blog Posts Follow This Yak

Sara Salt: Zen and the Art of Kayak Fishing

When I spoke with Sara Salt (@sara_salt_ on Instagram), she was worried about her finger.

“I just hurt my finger and I’m on my way to the Dominican Republic to fish in a marlin tournament,” she said. “When I caught my first one last year, it was a long, hard battle, and I don’t want my finger to hurt our chances in to the tournament.”

Sara’s first marlin was a 400-pound blue that she hooked on light tackle and boated standing up. She wasn’t quite sure if her finger was up for another battle with a monster marlin.

“But the captain says we just need to boat blue marlins. It’s not about the weight, so I should be okay,” she said.

Needless to say, the native Panamanian is a bit of a badass.

Fishing out of Casa de Campo, Dominican Republic on Electric Bill, Sara and the crew did not end up placing in the tournament, but they did release a lot of marlins.

“Too bad they weren’t all blues,” Sara wrote on Instagram.

When she’s not corralling billfish in exotic locales, Sara lives on the Florida panhandle near Destin.

She grew up near Panama City, Panama and has been fishing for most of her life.

“We moved back and forth between Panama and the United States,” she said. “But I remember spending time fishing on the beaches when I was a little girl. We’d also go spearfishing.”

And these days, there’s not much she would rather be doing, although Sara’s work in marketing and promotions for fishing and outdoor brands does sometimes get in the way.

“I would prefer to spend my days fishing,” she says. “It’s a passion: I wake up thinking about fishing, and I go to sleep thinking about fishing.”

When she fishes on her own, Sara likes to head out in her kayak.

“I like to hit the reefs for red snapper or grouper, or troll for mackerel or bonito. I even catch the occasional mahi off my kayak,” she says.

Sara is driven by the challenge of fishing.

“I’m always on to the next chase,” she says. “I’m chasing whatever is biting.”

She tries to get out on the water as often as she can—offshore, inshore or really, wherever she can find a place to throw a bait.

“If the wind is too stiff or the weather is really bad, if all else fails, I’ll hit the inland ponds and lakes,” she says. “Whatever it takes to fish.”

And for Sara, kayak fishing, in particular, is special.

“It’s just more rewarding when you’re self-propelled,” she says. “You get exercise, you’re out in nature and you catch your own meal. Win-win-win.”

Even beyond the physical rewards she loves, Sara feels a much deeper connectedness when she’s fishing from her kayak.

“It’s Zen. It’s good exercise and good for the soul,” she says. “That’s because kayak fishing is personal. You can be still and quiet, paddling out, alone with your thoughts.

“It’s spiritual and satisfying.”

 

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Blog Posts Charters, Guides and Outfitters Fly

Allison Helen Hendricks and the Music of Fly Casting

Allison Helen Hendricks’ father tied his own flies and made his own fly rods. He put one in Allison’s hands when she was five years old.

Despite her fly fishing legacy, she didn’t make a cast in her teens or much of her twenties.

It was not until a decade or so ago, when Allison agreed to go fishing with a friend and heard the song of the fly line under load, that all that fly fishing represented to her — childhood, rhythm, the outdoors, her father — rushed back up her arms and welled in her body.

She had found, more like remembered, her calling. It was all Allison wanted to do.

“The sound of the fly line reminded me of being a kid. My parents’re both professional musicians,” she said. “And I could hear the rhythm and the pattern in the line. There’s music in it.”

Allison (@flycastergirl on Instagram)  was trained as a musician herself, attending college to be a jazz vocalist and playing the piano for over 20 years, but she ultimately ended up in the medical field. She gave up her career as a surgical tech and dedicated herself to fly fishing.

A native of Pennsylvania, Allison lived all over the country, including stints in Idaho and Indiana, before landing in the Tampa Bay area.

“I wade guide on the West Coast of Florida,” she says. “I’ll target a certain species if it’s what a client wants, but I just fish to fish, whether it’s in my waders, from a boat, or getting a bass to hit my fly on a freshwater pond.”

She also writes (she’s been published in DUN Magazine and elsewhere), teaches the art of fly casting, and works with respected brands like Monic Fly Lines and RiverBum fly gear.

“I work hard for my clients and with companies in order to live the way I do,” Allison says.

She helped RiverBum redesign their women’s line of apparel, and she tests Monic’s fly lines.

“The way I fish, it’s not like being in a boat, the line is in the water the whole time. I can use Monic’s intermediate all day long, and it holds up under both inshore and offshore conditions — and that’s music to my ears.”

Before moving to Florida, Allison guided for redfish out of Galveston, Texas.

“We don’t have exactly the same kind of fishery here,” she says. “But in Texas, we’d use a crab or shrimp pattern to target big reds. A Clouser pattern also worked well.”

As a wading fly angler, Allison sees more snook, permit, speckled trout and the occasional tarpon in the Tampa area. Unless she’s with a client, though, what’s on the end of her line doesn’t matter.

“For me, fishing equals family,” she says. “It’s a way to hold my father’s hand, God’s hand and to feel at peace.”

Now that Allison has come full circle and rediscovered her true calling, she doesn’t believe that she could ever return to how her life was before.

“I’ve never looked back,” she says. “I’m a joyous and happy person since I started fishing. Hearing the sound of the line… for a musician  who never practiced music, it’s the most peaceful thing. Tranquil. Nothing can get to you out there.”

 

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Bull reds with Brandon Simon

“A tuna just jumped right in front of me!” Brandon Simon exclaimed over the phone.

I thought he’d told me that he was fishing from the beach.

“I am,” he said.

The pharmacy manager from Santa Claus, Indiana — who now lives in South Walton, Florida — explained that blackfin tuna come in close to shore, following temperature changes in the water.

Later Brandon texted me a photo of a reeler holding a tuna that he’d pulled in from the municipal pier in Panama City Beach, Florida.

“Don’t remember the last time I heard someone catching [tuna] off a local pier, though,” he said. “Shoulda grabbed the ‘yak. One of my buddies got one on his kayak. I ended up going inshore and slaying some sheepshead.”

“Can’t complain about the fishery down here one but right now.”

It was the fishery — along with a job offer — that brought Brandon to the area six years ago. He’s been a reeler all his life, since he was two years old. He grew up fishing for bass and then in bass tournaments.

About a decade ago, he got his first taste of saltwater fishing when he caught a king mackerel. And now that he’s moved to the Florida panhandle, he’s made the permanent mental switch.

“After saltwater fishing, I just can’t go back to freshwater,” he says. “I’m hooked. You cast and you never know what’s going to be on the other end of the line.”

What’s really got his blood pumping about his local fishery, though, are the redfish.

“I’ll chase them from a kayak, a boat, from shore… however I can get to them.”

When using a kayak, he looks for birds dropping down on baitfish and casts a topwater into the area where the birds are diving.

“Chasing redfish is a lot like chasing bass,” Brandon says. “They can be really aggressive, and when they want to hit something, they will.”

His personal best was a big bull that Brandon estimates to have been 35-40 pounds. He boated it from his kayak near Panama City Beach.

Brandon’s advice for folks who want to get started chasing reds is to start on the flats.

“Target the flats with a jerk bait or a gold spoon,” he says. “The water is really clear in the flats around here, so don’t drop the bait right on top of them or they’ll spook.”

Brandon prefers hot weather for chasing skinny water reds.

“In the summer months, they get up on the flats and you can get 20 or 30 a day with a gold spoon,” he says.

The slot for Panhandle reds is currently 17 to 27 inches with a limit of one per person.

“It’s really a catch and release fishery,” he explains.

And even when he’s not going after redfish, the awe that his local waters inspires is apparent.

“The saltwater fishery here is incredible,” Brandon says. “There are so many species out here. It’s the anticipation of not knowing what you’re reeling in, not knowing what’s going to happen on any given cast that keeps me wanting more.”