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Adventures Follow This Fresh Salt

Reel Talk: Jennifer Lampkin rings our belle!

Everything is bigger in Texas–and bass are no exception! As if on cue, Jennifer Lampkin (@southernbellefishingtx)is on site pulling up a monster largemouth bass, smiling from cheek to cheek.

Born and raised in East Texas, Jennifer knows a thing or two about tackling big fish that northerners might only dream of. For her, though, it’s often the sights and sounds along the waterway that make her day, not necessarily a lunker catch. Above all, it’s the relationships she fosters with friends and loved ones that makes fishing special to her.

I find it very important to teach my children patience through fishing,” Jennifer adds. “It can be a challenge, but getting them away from technology and appreciating nature is what makes it all worth it.”

Fishing is very much a family endeavor for Jennifer. Her father is also a Texas native, and the love of fishing has spread to the next generation as well. Her greatest, most cherished moments are those times spent sharing the water with her own children. Thus, fishing isn’t necessarily about the fish to this Texas belle, it’s about getting outdoors and sharing experiences with others.

That’s not to say there isn’t a rip-roaring angling persona behind the smile–Jennifer doesn’t back down from a fight! In fact, about a year ago she was set to join her dad in a tournament, but he broke his hand before the start. That just wouldn’t do. She had to get out and compete!

She saw a women’s-only bass kayak tournament, so someone offered to lend her a kayak. She had tried a pelican kayak in the past, but this was the first time she was in a real tournament kayak fishing. She met some folks at the tourney and they have been a great help in getting her set up and out on the right foot. She caught only a bluegill in the first tourney, but got hooked with the love to kayak fish.

After the first kayak tourney, someone told her there was a benefit tournament hosted by Heroes on the Water. She borrowed another kayak and joined with her friend John Mooney in Pinkston Lake, TX. Together they won the tournament, and Jennifer decided it was time to get her own kayak to enjoy these adventures more often.

True to her frenzied nature, Jennifer won’t be relegated to just Texas. She recently headed to Marathon Florida on a photoshoot organized by Gillz Gear. While there, she made sure to make the most of it: she joined with the famous Two Conchs charters and made some memories! She says that Captain Mike Macko made the trip a special treat: she reeled in her personal best–a 100lb goliath grouper!

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My fish Goal was a Goliath Grouper! I had no clue that when @gillzgear invited me to Marathon Florida I would be going after a Freaking Goliath! This fish was a beast! Talk about a full body work out!!! It took everything I had to hold this fish up for a picture. My whole body was sore, my arms weak but my smile big Y'all!!! Sure I'm not a picture perfect model but y'all this is a dream come true! I had caught a Jack and @capt_mike_macko broke the tail stuck a hook through it and said hold on! Guys i still can't believe how amazing this fight was! I am so so Blessed to be Part of Gillz Gear Pro Staff! Traveling across country had me a little nervous but everyone involved with Gillz Gear and @twoconchs was AMAZING! They really care for the Pro staff and women anglers! Two Conchs best charter you can use in the Marathon! I loved all the guys I met down there it was EPIC Thank you all so much! LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YALL AGAIN! DREAM IT AND GO FOR IT! DONT LET ANYTHING HOLD YOU BACK! For a 25% discount use Lampkin25 😘 ON Gillz Gear performance wear! #gillz #gillzgirl #gillzgear #gillzbassteam #twoconchs #ladyangler #fisherwoman #angler #lovetofish #goliathgrouper #grouper #keywest #florida #floridafishermenmagazine #bassgrls #largemouthbass #saltlife #laughmore #lovelife #epic #blessed #fishing #fishinglife #amazingadventures #adventure #performancewear #bestsunprotection #momoftwo #reelife #reelgirlsfish

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Still, she has some unfinished business. In the near future, she wants to catch a tarpon while on an ocean kayak. That’s not the end of her plans, either. Peacock bass are on her radar south of the border, but alligator gar are a little bit closer to home.

Jennifer is still getting used to being seen as an authority in her sport. She received messages and questions all of the time, and tries her best to help get people started on their own escapades. Looking to try kayak fishing? She recommends her Hobie Outback–not too big, easy enough to move, and stable enough to keep mostly dry. Want to get into bass fishing? Try the chartreuse H&H spinner, a classic that always earns more fish than its $2 price tag implies.

To that end, she’s hoping to start a series of Youtube videos to introduce kayak and fishing tips to new fans. It’s so important to get out there and try–not everyone has a family with the fishing know-how that she has been blessed with. One of her most cherished memories was pulling in a 4lb 2oz largemouth bass with her father a few years back– not her largest catch, but certainly a milestone memory for a budding angler. Helping others create similar milestones for themselves and their families is what drives Jennifer to keep chugging on!

For those that can’t get out and explore on their own, she hopes to continue mixing philanthropy and fishing whenever possible. This past year, she volunteered with Adaptive Sports to help people with disabilities catch fish. Additionally, Angling for Relief, a non-profit led by a remarkable young man named Jake, is an organization that attempts to improve the lives of those suffering from pediatric cancer by introducing them to fishing opportunities. Jake remembers that fishing was the greatest joy he and his best friend Ryan could share before cancer took Ryan away before the 2nd grade. Angling for Relief wants to share fishing with young patients by organizing “dry fishing packets” that help young learners practice before they head out to the stream. Wonderful souls like Jennifer are planning to be on hand to facilitate future on-water events as they are organized.

While her heart might be Texas-sized and her catches might occasionally tip the scales, Jennifer clearly likes her fishing to make a deeper impact on others around her.

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Fin-Telligence

Fin-telligence: The powerhouse Smallmouth bass

A standard smallmouth bass, about two years old.
(Conodoguinet Creek, PA – 2019)

The American angler is born with an awareness of the word “bass.” They are so ingrained in our culture that it is likely not until many years have passed that even seasoned reelers realize that they are several varieties (not unlike trout, salmon, and other catch-all words). Beyond the markings on their logo, even the venerable Bass Pro Shops is happy to capitalize on that ambiguity. The seasoned reeler, however, grows aware that there are a wide range of pan fish in this world, and bass are just some of the most attractive quarries.

Today we focus on but one of these muscle-bound fish, the powerhouse that is the smallmouth bass! The smallmouth is part of the ‘black bass’ family of pan fish. There they join thirteen recognized bass species including Alabama bass, Florida bass, Chattahoochee bass, Cahaba bass, Guadalupe bass, largemouth bass, redeye bass (not to be confused with the rock bass), Swannee bass, shoal bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, Tallapoosa bass, and warrior bass. That’s a lot of bass, but only the smallmouth bass serves as the archetype (type species) of the black bass genus. Let’s give it a look and give it some love.

The smallmouth bass is beloved throughout the American northern and middle states because it grows quickly, gives a great fight, can theoretically make for a good meal (don’t quote us on that), and thrives just about anywhere there is year-round water in its extended range.

Biology:

The standard smallmouth bass, with features you will never actually see this clearly in real life. (Wikimedia)

Males typically come in at around 2lbs, but females can top the scales at 4-6lbs. Smallmouth bass lay up to 21,000 eggs per breeding season, but survival rates vary wildly from year to year. On average, smallmouth bass grow about 6-8 inches in their first year, and an additional 2-4 inches thereafter. Specimens over 7lbs are exceedingly rare, but are more likely in warmer climates.

Identification

Green, brown, bronze… the smallmouth can be tough to describe. The minute stripes along its back (and along its face) are the dead give-aways.

The smallmouth bass is generally green-brown, with red or brown eyes, and dark brown vertical bands. It is common to see several ‘stripes’ along its face, but coloration and patterns vary even within the same stream section. Generally smaller than its largemouth cousin, the smallmouth bass can most easily be distinguished by its smaller mouth (stopping before it meets the eyeline) and its vertical striping (rather than horizontal).

The coloration of smallmouth bass is also dependent on their living conditions and diet. River smallmouth tend to be more torpedo-shaped and darker, blending in with tree covering and shadows. Lake smallmouth can be might paler in color, especially if there is a sandy bottom.

Habitat

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They prefer warmer sections of coldwater creeks wherever possible.
(Jason Meckes – Conodoguinet Creek, PA – 2020)

Smallmouth bass prefer similar water to their trout brethren, but enjoy a wider range of temperatures and water quality. They used to be relegated to the upper-reaches of the Mississippi River watershed and some territory around the Great Lakes, but humans have a habit of spreading game fish. They traveled with the Erie Canal through much of New York, and stocking spread them across much of the country.

They are a good indication of a healthy waterway, but are able to tolerate more pollution than most cold-water species. Most anglers refer to smallmouth bass as a warmwater fish, but they prefer waters considerably cooler than almost any other kind of black bass. These fish can be found most commonly in creeks and rivers, but also are often stocked in private ponds and lakes.

Smallmouth bass slow down their metabolism during the winter months and may migrate to deeper pools and warmer sections of a waterway. Their hunger usually begins to raise their activity level in early spring, and they can still be fairly active through the fall, even in northern states.

Catchin’ Tips

Conventional gear: The smallmouth bass LOVES crank baits, poppers, spoons, and most any kind of noisy or flashy gear in the 1-2″ range. Bass are active predators and eat crayfish, minnows, insects, and honestly most anything that will fit into their mouth. Use quick-retrieve movements and stop at regular intervals to imitate an injured fish. Mid-to-top water retrieves are most successful for moving waterways, but finding their holding areas will always be the key.

What a chunker! Brightly colored poppers don’t look like anything natural, but they get the bass to follow through with a predatory response. (2020)

Fly gear: Smallmouth bass can be a blast on a fly rod. It is recommended that you use a 5-7wt fly rod in the 8-10′ range. A 9 foot leader is a good bet, but larger flies will force you to cut that down a foot or more. I LOVE using poppers for smallmouth (and rarely deviate from that, just change the color based on hunches), but they will also grab wooly buggers, articulated streamers, or mickey finns. Some reelers have luck using mayfly immitations during coffin fly hatches, but I still recommend you stick with a popper or other large offering. They’ll bite!

WORLD RECORD

David Hayes holds the record, but a discrepancy caused a controversy over it. (Bassmasters, 1955)

The All-Tackle World Record for smallmouth bass is 11lb 15oz caught in 1955 by David L. Hayes in Dale Hollow Reservoir in Kentucky. Wait, it might ALSO be 11lbs 15oz caught in 1955 by David L. Hayes in…Tennessee? The fact of the matter is that these are the same record for the same fish, but the border-straddling reservoir is just the location. Kentucky AND the IGFA vacated Hayes’ record after a 1996 investigation confirmed that someone else weighed the fish and could have potentially weighed it down.

In a 1996/1997 re-investigation, the facts were laid out that Mr. Hayes did indeed catch a record-setting bass. Independent news outlets interviewed the people involved and the state of Tennessee re-instated the record. KY has since reinstated the record as well, but not the IGFA (which took over record keeping from Field and Stream in 1978).

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Adventures Blog Posts Follow This Photography Weird Fish

Reel Talk: Noodlin’ Around with Allison Hunter Voges

Sometimes you’re the fish, and sometimes you’re the hook. The key is to fight-fight-fight regardless of which role you’re playing. The lines can get blurred, especially in the strange and dangerous world of catfish noodling. Few know this better than Allison Hunter Voges, better known as @amHunter11 on Instagram.

For those not yet among Allison’s 15,000+ followers, there is much more than meets the eye to this Southern Indiana adventurista. She might be best known for her turkey bowhunting exploits, but in the past year she has made a mark with the gritty sport of noodling for catfish.

Predominantly illegal in most states, grappling for catfish is the kind of pastime that most Americans don’t even get to attempt, let alone excel at. It was just about a year ago that Allison was invited by one of the Internet’s foremost noodling experts, @AlyFromAlabama, to try it for the first time. Much like the fish she was finding, she found herself hooked–without any hooks around!

Allison proudly showed off a 50-lb catfish brute last year, and is eager to get back into the action this year! She is a living example of the joys that can come from trying new things, even if they are a bit intimidating. Sometimes you just need a little support to get you out the door.

“I never really thought of myself as a role model, but it was wonderful to receive messages from other women revealing how I helped them try new hobbies,” Allison adds. “The best advice that I can give for someone who feels intimidated by a new outdoor pursuit is to join some online groups of like-minded people. Many of them organize activities and events, and are often incredibly welcoming and receptive of new members. Step out of your comfort zone and meet as many people as you can!”

Noodling is not for the faint of heart. Fans have seen her wrangle snakes, field dress deer, mud wrestle hogs, and even have a veterinarian pull glass out of her arm. She’s clearly as tough as they come, but never would have even received the chance to learn without a little kindness from a former stranger. Allison practices what she preaches: she knows how important it is for women in male-dominated sports to stick together and to support one-another. In fact, she is organizing a trip for the American Daughters of Conservation (@adconserve) in August of this year, and will introduce noodling to them–with all of the mud, sweat, slime, and glory that she has enjoyed!

Whether hunting in the Indiana woods or fishing from hand-lines in Costa Rica, Allison is very aware that conservation is the key to continued outdoor pursuits. It is paramount that new outdoorsmen and women be attracted to fishing and hunting to ensure that money, regulations, and awareness continues to grow for the outdoors. To that end, Allison was disappointed when trying to introduce hunting to youngsters. There were very few materials out there intended for young readers.

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How do we get more kids interested and involved in the outdoors? This is my way of contributing. I’ve searched for children’s books about hunting and there are few options. I wanted a book with illustrations that drew the reader in, as well as content that captured the joy, respect and pride a hunt brings. So I wrote one myself. ⁣ ⁣ So far I’ve sold nearly 100 books and I’m happy to announce my new hardback copies are now available. I’ve put a lot of heart, effort, and money into creating this book. Being an independent author is not easy and finding a printer that did quality work took some time. However, I’m happy to announce that my new hardback copies have arrived! I will be selling them for $12.99 plus shipping. If you’re interested please shoot me a DM on my page or the @raisedtochasethewild page. I’m hoping to find an online retailer to sell and ship them for me soon. The paperback version of my book is still available on Amazon. ⁣ ⁣ I’m hoping this book will open some doors between children and adults for conversations about hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. It’s so important that we try and grow a new generation of hunters, not only for conservation reasons, but because kids learn so many advantageous life lessons in the great outdoors. ⁣ ⁣ I’ve also made this book interactive by hiding deer tracks through some of the illustrations for children to search for and find. I feel it’s a great way to encourage curiosity and exploration in nature. ⁣ ⁣ Please feel free to share this post. Purchase a book for your child, grandchild, niece or nephew. Gift it at a baby shower. Donate a copy to your local library or school. If you have any questions for me I’d be happy to answer them. ⁣ ⁣ Thank you for your support. #chasingthewild #raisedtochasethewild

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“I walked into a Bass Pro and looked for a hunting book for kids,” Allison remembered. “After failing there, I searched Amazon as well. Nothing! That’s when I decided to make one myself.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Having no experience in book publishing or writing, she soon found out that there are considerable hurdles in the process. Writing the book itself went fairly quickly, actually. She then let family members read it and give their input. When it came time for illustration, she turned to college friend Rebecca Mullins, who was not a hunter. The duo worked together to ensure that the content was accurate, fun, and above-all worthwhile to young readers. The final challenge was finding a decent publisher with consistent quality. Her book, Chasing Deer, was released in December 2019, and the reception has blown her away.

You can pick up the softcover on Amazon, but she is selling the hardback versions herself until she can find a reliable producer. Shoot Allison a message on instagram or facebook to inquire about the hardback version. She is hoping to have them available more broadly in the near future.

When not doing everything she can to open the outdoors to new audiences, she is either working hard in her landscaping company or traveling to the next adventure on her list. Her dream hunt is coming up in September: hunting elk in the mountains on Colorado. She also looks forward to continuing her adventures in the water–especially trying to catch the elusive musky that has evaded her so far.

What’s next for Allison? She wants to enjoy life in the here-and-now, and has many adventures planned. Will more books follow? She has been blown away by the reception to her first book, and has ideas for turkey hunting and bass fishing versions, but it’s still a little too early to tell. She loves being “a gateway drug to the outdoors” by sharing her exploits online. It’s clear that we’ll all have to follow her incredible adventures to see what is next on the docket for Allison Hunter Voges.

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Fresh

Fin-Telligence: The oft-misunderstood Fallfish

The fallfish and its natural predator–the voracious fishing companion (both lived to swim another day–2012).

If you are an avid cold-water angler, then you know that clean, cold water isn’t only attractive to salmonids like trout, char, and salmon. Other fish enjoy the benefits of high-oxygenation and clear channels with lots of insect life. Today we are shining a little light on one of the “nuisance” fish that can ruin a day if you let it–or spare you from the ignominy of a skunk day.

Behold: the humble fall fish. This is actually considered a non-game fish, though it can have many of the attributes of its more glorious kin. The fall fish is actually the largest native minnow species in the North American continent, and can grow over 20 inches long. Not bad for a minnow!

The former commissioner of the PA Fish and Boat Commission used to eagerly refer to them as freshwater tarpon. Indeed, while they look a bit like baby tarpon, they can fight on a similarly measured scale. It takes a bit of imagination, and perhaps a dose or two of marketing, but even the fallfish can be a fisherman’s salvation when the standard gamefish aren’t biting.

Biology:

Early scientific drawing of the fallfish chub.
US National Museum (1875).

The fall fish is found largely in warm stretches of cold water streams and lakes of northern United States and Canada. This predator was actually the apex predator in many streams until humans intentionally added species like smallmouth bass and trout in many locations. Their color is usually silver to bronze, with large arrowhead-shaped scales throughout. They live throughout the Eastern edge of the continent, ranging strongly from Virginia through Ontario.

Fallfish also have a reputation for being especially slimy. This is true–they produce a heavier mucus covering, giving the fish a healthy line of protection against scrapes, diseases, and parasites. This can result in a long-lasting and somewhat smelly residue on the hands of reelers. The cure? Simply put your hands back into the stream a bit longer than you would to “clean off” after landing a trout.

Identification

A large fallfish caught on conventional gear.
(Alexander Y. Suvorov – Wikimedia commons)

Fallfish are often confused with other chub relatives because of their similar coloration, habitat, and diet. However, if the chub in question is larger than six inches long: it’s almost certainly a fallfish. They can also be identified by a slightly pointier snout than their relatives. Males grow bumps around their nose and eyes during the breeding season.

Fallfish enjoy pulling food from the same areas that trout do–they’ll eagerly take flies off of the surface or nymphs from the bottom. This also often puts them into contact with fishermen.

A fallfish falls for a beadhead wooly bugger.
(Jason Meckes – Clarks Creek – 2011)

Habitat

The slower waters that are bass habitat are very much the haunting grounds of fallfish. They prefer warmer sections wherever possible.
(Jason Meckes – Conodoguinet Creek, PA – 2020)

In the northern reaches of their range, fallfish prefer lakes and ponds. Toward the mid-Atlantic states, fallfish are primarily found in warm water creeks and rivers. In both cases, they are more prevalent in slack water than heavy riffles. Their name actually comes from their predisposition to enjoy pools, which are the natural result of waterfalls. Although many reelers claim to catch these fish in the autumn, they aren’t discernibly more active in the autumn than the summer or spring.

Catchin’ Tips

Conventional gear: The fallfish is like a trout in many aspects. They will eat the same gear you’d use for rainbow trout. Larger specimens will chase crank baits or take down a popper.

Fly gear: As with traditional gear, your approach should be identical to that which works for standard trout fishing. It is almost impossible to rig up something that appeals to fallfish over other gamefish– your best bet is to find slower, warmer water and try the same flies there.

The pheasant tail nymph is a prime fallfish fly.

WORLD RECORD

The All-Tackle World Record for fallfish is 3lb 9oz caught by Jonathan McNamara in the Susquehanna River near Owego, New York, USA in April 2009.

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Adventures Blog Posts Featured Slider Fly

Adventuring with Maria Prekeges and Jon White

Adventuring outdoors is a year-round activity for Maria and Jon.
(copyright Maria Prekeges and Jon White, 2020)

Save $400. Have fun. Learn at your own pace. Sounds good, right? That’s essentially the mission statement that lures Maria Prekeges and Jon White outdoors. And they mean it!

“Do you need to hire an expensive guide?” asks Jon. “No. Will it help some? Probably. But you can learn many of the same lessons from the comfort of your home and be $400 ahead with us on your side.”

You might recognize Jon if you frequent the Idaho backcountry, and you might find Maria familiar from her many appearances on ESPN, FOX Sports, CBS Sports, and other outlets both in front of and behind the camera. They have a passion for the outdoors, and they want to help countless others feel more comfortable (and entertained!) when heading outside.

These two aren’t always buttoned-up and formal. The outdoors are fun, and so are they! (2020)

With the imminent launch of Idaho Mountain Anglers, this dynamic duo is primed to bring entertaining vlog material, pictures, and hilarious stories to all of your favorite social media channels. We recommend that you follow them today (and put that money you save toward some sweet new gear!).

Jon is a seasoned fly-fisher, while Maria considers herself a novice. (2020)

Jon grew up in Idaho and has logged countless journeys through the hills, mountains, and streams of the American west. Maria was raised along the salmon streams and clamming beds of the Pacific Northwest. While Jon is a quieter, more introspective presence, Maria exudes vitality with every word. This ying-and-yang partnership pays dividends both in front of and behind the cameras they bring into the woods.

“I love catching trout. They offer so much challenge, and so much reward. I have learned to enjoy the acrobatics and strength of bass recently,” says Jon. “They really are my current favorites.”

“I’m still new,” adds Maria. “So any fish I catch is my de-facto favorite!”

Maria considers herself a novice reeler–she loves to be outdoors, but is generally learning the tricks of the trade from Jon, an experience angler. Her vivacious personality and humor come through in every short video, while her learning curve helps the viewer pick up tips at a casual pace. In producing their #MinuteWithMaria shorts, this duo has focused on snappy editing and quick tips to avoid the boredom and lack of focus of most fishing tutorials online.

While flyfishing the hills of Idaho is a great way to spend the year, Maria and Jon venture all around the country looking for angling opportunities. (2020)

While these two hail from Sun Valley in Idaho, their adventures are not limited to the mountaintops and glacial valleys. Maria’s job as a sports journalist (with an emphasis on rodeo work) leads her all around the country, and Jon is always looking out for a new stream, lake, or shore to explore. Along the way, they chronicle the dos-and-don’ts of fishing, hiking, and general adventuring throughout the United States.

Maria learns the tips and tricks of fishing so that you don’t have to spend your hard-earned money on a guide–unless you’d like to! (2020)

Keep your eyes peeled on their media channels as they begin to roll out some long-gestating videos highlighting a variety of topics. If you have never fished from a kayak before, we recommend that you stay tuned to find out the differences between the options out there (hard bottom, inflatable, and where they each shine). Whether you fly-fish or prefer conventional gear, you’ll have plenty to enjoy as you follow along with them.

“Head out your back door and explore!,” Maria finishes. “We want everyone to enjoy the outdoors, and we hope that we can help bring that spark to urge them out the door.”

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Fin-Telligence Fly Weird Fish

Fin-Telligence: The elusive tiger trout!

Baby tiger trout
A baby tiger trout is introduced in Oregon with the specific goal of eradicating pest fish – (Oregon Dept. of Fisheries – October 12, 2015)

When learning about the various quarries that can attract reelers to the outdoors, there are a few time-honored stalwarts that come to mind. Rainbow trout, largemouth bass, tarpon, grouper–all are among the first to cross the mind of a new angler. Murkier water comes with the territory, both literally and figuratively, and even species aren’t clear-cut differentiators.

Case in point: the tiger trout. The tiger trout is not a true species, but rather a sterile hybrid made from brown trout and brook trout parents. The tiger trout is occasionally stocked in lakes and streams throughout the United States (and abroad, though in limited numbers) in situations where wild stocks might be impacted by the act of stocking. For that reason, it is sometimes preferred in otherwise pristine trout water. In the wild, the tiger trout is exceedingly rare and alluring to the adventuring angler. For this reason, the wild tiger trout is a badge of pride that can elevate even the most otherwise-accomplished reeler.

Illustration of a tiger trout.
(International Game Fish Assc. – Duane Raver)

Biology:

Tiger trout can be found in the wild where populations of both brown trout and brook trout intermingle. The union is only viable when female brown trout and male brook trout breed, though some fish procreation isn’t the result of direct intent (but close proximity). The standard survival rate of these hybrids is 5% of fertilized eggs. Scientists also believe that a heat shock can help spur the necessary creation of an extra set of chromosomes that tiger trout require, which is why fatality rates and populations can fluctuate strongly from stream-to-stream (with an upper survival rate nearing 85%). This special hybrid is noteworthy to many researchers because the species are not terribly closely related (brook char versus brown trout), with different numbers of chromosomes.

The biological intricacies of tiger trout have been studied for decades.
(Canadian Field Naturalist Guide, 1983)

Hybrids, such as the tiger trout, are also subject to quick growth due to what scientists term “hybrid vigor.” This can enable the fish to grow more quickly and possibly larger than either of their parents. Hybrids can also display behaviors that neither parent express, though tiger trout do not deviate significantly from brook or brown trout.

Identification

Three tiger trout display the variety of patterns that make identification a challenge.
(Wikimedia commons, Matthew Tyree – 2008)

Tiger trout are fairly easy to identify because of their distinct “noodle” vermiculation (spot) pattern. They are only found in cold water “trout” habitat, and often have the general outline and body shape of a brook trout. Stocked brown trout often display somewhat-noodly vermiculations, but only tiger trout have those patterns throughout their entire flank (with few or no brown-trout-esque spots). Being a hybrid, their colors can vary between the silver-green-brown of brown trout and the green-top red-yellow bottom of brook trout.

MISTAKEN IDENTITY: This brown trout displays worm-shape vermiculations, but they are not prevalent enough to be mistaken for a tiger trout…if you have a keen eye!
(Jason Meckes – Clarks Creek, PA – 2012)

Habitat

The crystal-clear waters that indicate trout habitat are very much the haunting grounds of the tiger trout. Wild populations require brook and brown trout habitat simultaneously.
(Jason Meckes – Clarks Creek, PA – 2012)

Being a hybrid of brown and brook trout, the wild tiger trout is most often found in streams of the northeastern United States. The limiting factor in wild stocks is usually dependent on the brook trout being comfortable enough to breed, as brown trout usually enjoy the same water (and more). Any stream with both populations breeding could harbor a tiger trout population, but they are so rare that they are very difficult to encounter. A reeler that is interested in catching one had better look toward the western states, where they are stocked more commonly (Utah, Colorado, Oregon). For conservation purposes, they are the exclusive stocked species in many streams and lakes.

Catchin’ Tips

Conventional gear: The tiger trout is very similar to the brown trout in most of its preferences and activities. Larger specimens are nearly entirely piscivorous, so lures that imitate baitfish (and live bait) are successful.

Fly gear: As with traditional gear, your approach should be identical to that which works for brown trout fishing. If you are aiming for larger specimens, using an articulated fly or muddler minnow can be successful.

WORLD RECORD

The world record tiger trout is 20lbs 13oz and caught by Peter Friendland in Lake Michigan, Wisconsin (1978). The world record for fly tackle is 16lbs 12oz caught by Luke Butcher in the UK (2001).