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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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No Matter the Season, @4Seasonsflygals are Reelin’

Back in September 2016, Texan Karen Clark was visiting Vail, Colorado with her husband, some friends — Beth Paterson and Leisha Scaling — and their husbands.

“Our husbands were golfers,” she says. “And we were looking for something fun to do. So, we decided to try fly fishing.”

Karen, Beth, and Leisha had never really fished before. But they went out with Katie and Cooper Anderson (of Anderson’s Fish Camp) and were instantly hooked on the sport.

“We loved it so much that we decided to form a little fly fishing club and start an Instagram account,” Karen says of herself and her two friends (all of whom live in the Dallas area).

And that’s how 4 Seasons Fly Gals was born. When I caught up with Karen and Beth, they were visiting Karen’s rental cabin in Branson and had been out fishing on Lake Taneycomo in 24-degree weather.

“They stock rainbow trout in Taneycomo,” Karen explained. “We’re still very new to it. We’ve got to the point where we’re going out by ourselves — without guides — wading, and actually catching fish. But there’s still so much to learn.”

The Fly Gals have added another twist to their new pastime, as well.

“We’re strictly catch-and-release,” Karen says. “I would never eat anything I catch. But we take pictures of our fish. And sometimes when we get back to the cabin, we’ll print off the pictures and paint watercolors of the fish we caught. That’s always fun. We also keep a fly journal of each trip we go on.”

Gals have also started tying their own flies.

“About a year ago, we took the Orvis fly-tying class,” Karen says. “I bought the set, and I’ve tied a few flies. Every time I come to Branson, I try to the flies I’m going to need. I’ve learned to tie an egg pattern. I’ve learned the wooly bugger, I’ve learned the sculpin. The squirmy worm, the San Juan worm — we fish with a lot of those in Branson. Tying flies is a lot of fun.”

As much as they enjoy fly fishing, the Gals are occasionally met with incredulity.

“I get tickled,” Karen says. “Sometimes, we’ll be walking through the airport with our fly rods and guys will come up to us think we’re carrying our husbands’ fly rods. I’ll be like, ‘No, it’s mine — he’s the golfer.’ We do attract plenty of men with our fly rods.”

For the Gals, the learning has been a big part of the joy they’ve found in fly fishing.

“Every time you go out, you learn something new,” Karen says. “There’s always something to learn.”

She referred to their outing that day as an example.

“Today was the first time that she went out and waded by herself, and she caught her first fish,” Karen says.

“Without a guide,” Beth clarified.

“Usually, in Colorado, we go with guides because we love Katie and Cooper so much,” Karen says. “We’re all grandmas, and they’re excited to see people our age taking up something like this.”

“Especially women,” Beth adds.

Most importantly, the Gals are creating many memorable moments as they continuing honing their fly angling skills — even if some of them don’t involve catching fish.

“I was fishing for the first time by myself for the first time at this little lake. Some other folks who were fishing there suggested that I move to a spot where the fish had really been biting,” Karen says. “I picked up my rod, but I didn’t hook my fly onto it — I just let swing. And as I ran over to the new spot, I hooked the fly in my calf.”


“I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to go back to the fly shop and see if they could get it out of my leg,” Karen says. “So, I was walking back, and this gentleman goes, ‘What kind of fly were you using today?’ I put my leg up and said, ‘Well, it’s right here if you want to take a look.’ He said, ‘Come on over here. I’m a surgeon, and I can pop that right out for you.’ It was really funny.”

Beth recalled a recent trip to Mexico.

“We went to Punta Mita, and we thought we were really big stuff. So, we chartered a boat and went out on the ocean, fly fishing,” Beth says. “I got sick as a dog. They finally took us back to the bay.”

“We thought we knew how to fish on the ocean because we’d fly fished before,” Karen says. “We were just too big for our britches on that one.”

Although the fly outing didn’t go as planned, Karen did get a jack crevalle on spinning gear after they returned.

“That was a little more fun because we really didn’t know what we were doing with the other,” Karen says.

Karen and Beth have a wonderful sense of humor about some of their missteps. Make no mistake, though. The Gals catch plenty of fish, and their enthusiasm for fly fishing has taken them on plenty of adventures.

“It’s fun at this point in our lives that we could find something that we just love to do,” Karen says. “It’s just such a learning experience. Every time you go out, you learn something new. And we’re just beginning.”

“It’s like a treasure hunt when you’re out there fishing,” Karen says. “You just don’t know what the day’s going to be like. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but you’re not going to leave until you catch a fish.”

“It’s beautiful, the scenery…,” Beth says. “It’s just a great way to spend the day.”





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Nick Vlahos hooks fish on Sandbars

Nick Vlahos (@sandbar_flies on Instagram) was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but he grew up in Georgia. An avid fly angler, these days Nick travels between homes in Louisiana and Destin, Florida.

“I grew up in Georgia, mainly. I started fishing when I was four or five,” he says. “But I didn’t start fly fishing until I was thirteen or fourteen, after moving to Georgia. I started fly fishing for rainbow and brook trout in the mountains of north Georgia when my mom’s stepdad got me my first fly rod.”

He returned to Baton Rouge to go to college.

“It was when I started going to school at LSU [Louisiana State] that I got into saltwater fly fishing,” Nick says. “I started fly fishing out of a kayak for redfish.”

His go-to pattern for redfish is the Sandbar Mullet fly — which he ties himself and markets through his company, Sandbar Flies, as well as major outlets like Orvis.

“I like to throw it and a medium dumbbell weight to get down to the fish pretty quickly,” Nick says. “My favorite color for it is tan and purple.”

Nick didn’t always tie his own flies, though.

“Most of my buddies tied their own flies. They’d make fun of me because I didn’t, and I would bum flies off of them,” he says. “But then I actually won a fly fishing contest, and I got a gift card to Cabela’s. I spent most of it on fly-tying material and a vise, and everything I needed to get started. That was about seven or eight years ago.”

It didn’t take long for him to catch the fly-tying bug.

“From there, I was just hooked,” Nick said. “All my buddies then thought my patterns were better than theirs. So, I just stuck with it. And eventually, my flies got picked up through Orvis. I tie all the time, now.”

Nick concentrates his fly tying work on saltwater patterns — particularly those that are effective for the inshore species along the Florida and Louisiana Gulf Coasts.

“I tie based on the species that I target, mainly,” he says. “So, I create patterns for redfish and pompano, mostly. I’ll also go after tarpon, speckled trout and black drum.”

Sometimes, though, Nick’s flies will attract a species he’s not targeting.

“In Louisiana, sheepshead — which are known as the permit of Louisiana — are really picky. But they will also sometimes hit a fly, even if I’m going after redfish,” he says.

Nick sees an even wider variety of species when he fishes closer to Destin.

“In Florida, you get all the same species as Louisiana — and more,” he says. “You’ll get tarpon and bonito close to the beach in Destin. You can even catch snapper on the fly, amberjack, mahi mahi. There’s definitely a lot more species you can cover, there.”

Ultimately, it’s the challenge of fly fishing that keeps getting Nick back out on the water.

“I try to get out as much as I can,” he says. “You learn something new every time you go. It’s hard to conquer fishing — the fish are always in the mood for a different fly or they’re not there when you think they’re going to be.”

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Flycastergal: Allison Helen Hendricks

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 she 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 gave up her career as a surgical nurse 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 fishing, 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.”


Photo by:

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.


Photo by:

“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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Julie Cyr: The land (and sea) provides

Native Oregonian Julie Cyr (@outdoor_jules on Instagram) grew up with a deep knowledge of the outdoors and how to make her way in the natural world.

“My grandmother fished and hunted,” she says. “Even when my twin sister and I were really young, we watched our dad build his own fly rods, tie his own flies, and then fish with them on the Metolius River. As little girls, we both learned how to fish and shoot a recurve bow.”

Although Julie was born and raised in Oregon — growing up a serious athlete — she’s spent the last  20 years in Washington and currently lives in Tacoma.

“I was one of only four women who served on the Nike Training Panel,” she says.

Right after college, though, she got married — eventually divorced — and had a family.

“We moved to the Jervis Inlet area in remote British Columbia,” Julie says. “We were pretty much ‘off the grid’ — reachable only by float plane or boat — fishing, hunting, growing and foraging to provide for ourselves. It was a true return to living by our natural, circadian rhythms.”

Like Julie and her sister, her children also learned how to make their ways in the outdoors.

“I never really made a concession for their ages,” Julie says. “I included them in everything, taught them to fish and hunt.”

After returning to Lower 48, Julie — who had graduated PLU — focused on ways to continue living off the land.

“I learned about vegetables,” she says. “I had a love affair with vegetables and whole foods.”

So, she started an organic farm.

“I did a farm stand every weekend,” Julie says. “And when I wasn’t doing that or working outside, I was canning, pickling and creating recipes. It was my attempt to create an authentic field to table experience.”

While she didn’t have time for much else, Julie still managed to fish a bit and do some upland bird hunting.

These days, teaching folks about good food and how to grow or find it is still very important to Julie.

And not only is she finding more time for fishing, she’s also discovered a favorite quarry.

“I love estuary fly fishing,” she says. “Once I took my dad out to catch chinook on the fly. He caught his first salmon on the fly, and I caught a coastal cutthroat trout. It was beautiful, and I was hooked.”

Cutthroat are native to the West Coast and migrate from as far north as British Columbia to Northern California, which is the southern limit of their traditional range. And they’re scrappy.

“Native sea-run cutthroat, pound for pound, fight as hard as steelhead,” Julie says. “Unfortunately, coastal fishery management really needs to improve in order to save their habitats and prevent a decline.”

Julie sees fishing as a way to teach people about conservation and the outdoors while offering a sublime experience in nature.

“I don’t guide,” she says. “But I will take people out to fish. I try and approach it with a beginner’s mindset. I love the sense of community when I’m fishing with others. And I love giving back by educating people about native species and fishing.”

For Julie, fishing is also deeply personal.

“It’s my little piece of heaven,” she says. “I go for the solitude, but it’s also where I feel fully alive.”

You can hear Julie on ESPN 710 am Seattle, where she is a regular commentator on ‘The Outdoor Line’ program.

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Hannah Kramer: The Redheaded Angler

Growing up as a kid in Colorado, Hannah Kramer (@redheaded_angler on Instagram) fished but would “get bored after like 20 minutes.”

It was not until after her father passed away three years ago that Hannah picked up a rod again.

“He was a huge fly angler,” she says. “About a year after he passed away, I found dad’s gear and decided to learn how to fly fish. I thought it would be a way for me to honor his memory and to feel close to him.”

Photo: Jordan Younger

Hannah got started by taking some of the beginner classes offered by fly gear giant, Orvis.

“I took some of the free Orvis 101 classes,” she says. “And then I asked for advice on local fly fishing social media groups. A few people actually offered to take me out — It was awesome, and I learned quite a bit.”

“I’ve been teaching myself ever since,” Hannah says.

Her go-to fishery is the Blue River near Dillon and Silverthorne in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.

Photo: Jordan Younger

“The fishing is beautiful and it’s close to home,” she says.

Right now, Hannah has one primary target species.

“Trout,” she says. “Someday, I would love to explore warm water species, but I love trout.”

Fly fishing provides a release from Hannah’s day-to-day work.

“I’m a teacher at a high-security correctional facility for 15 to 21 year-old boys,” she says. “I’m a special education teacher, so I have eight guys all day long and teach all their subjects. I love it.”

As much as fishing is a release from her sometimes-stressful career, it also offers lessons that she can apply on the job.

“I’ve learned a lot of patience with fishing,” Hannah says. “I work with the ‘worst of the worst’ — these are kids who have committed real crimes and also have special needs or learning disabilities — and the patience that fishing teaches has helped me with the job. Patience is important, because sometimes I need to remain calm in order to de-escalate a situation.”

But Hannah’s work is a two-way street.

Photo by: Kylie Elizabeth

“At the same time, the guys have taught me a lot,” she says. “Working with them helps me appreciate all that I have and the opportunities available to me. Like simply being out in all the beauty that Colorado has to offer.”

The patience that she’s learned from fly fishing has also come in handy with another aspect of the sport: The art of fly-tying.

“I decided to teach myself how to tie my own flies,” Hannah says.

She’s posted live videos and stories of herself on Instagram and Snapchat throughout the process, inviting her followers to learn along with her.

Probably not coincidentally, Hannah’s favorite fly to tie is also her favorite to use on the water.

“The pheasant tail nymph,” she says. “I love it because it works and because it’s challenging. I’ve probably tied a hundred and still haven’t perfected it.”

The pheasant tail mimics a mayfly pattern. She also likes the rainbow warrior.

“It works really well, too,” she says. “It mimics some sort of midge.”

Recently, Hannah went on a fishing trip with one of her dad’s old fishing buddies.

“He told me about what it was like to fish with my dad, and what my dad liked,” she said. “It was an amazing experience.”

And it’s the feeling of connection to her dad that continues to draw Hannah to fishing.

“I want to keep going out and exploring his favorite rivers and seeing where he fished,” she says. “I am still feeling the connection to him every time I go out.”

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Casting for Recovery: A global flyfishing movement for breast cancer survivors

In 1996, two friends created a fly fishing retreat program for female breast cancer survivors. The two women, a professional fly fisher and a breast reconstruction surgeon, started a grassroots organization that now spans the globe. This year, Casting for Recovery (CfR) has had 54 national retreats, and they are consistently growing due to their incredible results.

Fly fishing is physically beneficial to women who have had breast cancer surgery or radiation, as the rhythmic, repetitive movement of casting can increase mobility to that region of the body. It’s also emotionally beneficial, as the women get to learn a new task with a supportive group of peers. The act of fly fishing provides respite from the stresses of daily life and places the survivor in a new environment with a new focus.

“Retreat weekends are about the fishing and the casting and all of that, but it’s so much more and not just about the fishing,” says CfR’s social media guru, Tiffany Greene.

“The help is displayed in our statistics. One hundred percent of our alumnae who participate and complete the Casting for Recovery retreat weekend would recommend the program to a fellow breast cancer survivor.”

Other statistical benefits include high percentages of participants (above 90%) feeling connected, gaining new support bases, developing better coping mechanisms, accepting themselves, and learning something new about breast cancer. Plus, they get to learn how to fly fish!

Greene notes that knowing how to fly fish is not a requirement for the 2.5-day retreat, and most participants have never done it. In fact, 70 percent of them have never been to a support group. Breast cancer survivors simply fill out an application, and all participants are selected through a lottery.

Casting for Recovery collaborated with Project Healing Waters this year in a show of support for female veteran breast cancer survivors, and their first inaugural retreat aimed to give back to those who had served in the military. This year, there were also 3 CfR retreats for women with stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

Women who are able to participate get solace from their diagnosis, as they are surrounded by other women who have walked in similar shoes and truly understand the struggle of surviving with breast cancer.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer at some point in their lives. The mission of CfR is to “enhance the quality of life of women with breast cancer through a unique retreat program that combines breast cancer education and peer support with the therapeutic sport of fly fishing.” The program is for women with all stages of breast cancer, and it is always free for participants.

The non-profit organization is recognized as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator, a watchdog group.

Giving Tuesday is November 28th, and CfR is thankful for all donations received to get more breast cancer survivors to their retreats.

They are also launching limited edition fishing products on December 1st for the holiday season, so make sure and check out their catalog!




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An intro to flyfishing in Colorado

Our friends Michael Dalton and Jon Rohman created this stunning visual journey and introduction to Colorado flyfishing for us as he explores the streams around Eleven Mile State Park. Check it out.


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Catching One of Wisconsin’s Bruising Trophy Fish

If a fish could be sneaky, this would be that fish. But who doesn’t like an awesome challenge in the search and landing of a nice trophy fish? Not only that, they’re beloved by fishermen because of the challenge they pose and are therefore found in the majority of creeks, rivers, and seas throughout the world. They’re beautiful (brown) fish and generally on the large side so fishermen enjoy trying to catch them just to get a glimpse. The current world record brown trout is held in New Zealand, weighing in at 42 pounds and 1 ounce.

Reeler Jake Bowles lands a monster Brown.

Brown trout are some pretty big, pretty cool fishies. They generally eat their food under the surface too, so don’t be looking for them super close to the surface. Something fairly confusing to me is the fact that a good portion of brown trout live in the sea. I mean, obviously I know that there a ton of fish that live in the seas, but trout? I’d always experienced the trout in rivers and creeks, not in salty oceans. They do migrate every year to fresh water to breed though. So I guess when I see the trout they’re getting lucky or about to get lucky. Which makes me feel a bit guilty about catching them for dinner every summer. The brown trout does push out around 10,000 eggs though, so, not too guilty. Sure, a good majority of these eggs don’t hatch or survive past a few weeks of age. But they have a better chance at popping a couple hundred of fish that will mature into adulthood than say, humans do.

Brown trout can be found across the globe along with having been stocked in 45 states throughout the USA. These trophy fish are commonly found in the colder rivers, where they’ve grown smart enough to refrain from feeding on prey closer to the surface. At least until nightfall when fishermen aren’t around to try and catch them. So they recommend (experienced fishermen, not the trout), to go fishing for these guys in the early morning and late evening. Even then, the brown trout tries to stay out of sight and pull the flies into the water to avoid being caught.

Night fishing pays off for @TheFlyDudes

Top fishing professionals say that the bamboo fly rod works the best to catch these guys. This type of rod has been around since the 1800s and is generally used for its smooth precision in placement. Due to this, its performance has been praised as being similar to playing a fine musical instrument. The back cast is smooth and fluid with a damping effect at the end, while the forward cast throws the line with the same damping effect at the beginning.

And you should hit up the Wisconsin tributary rivers soon since the remaining stock of the brown trout will be dying off. Budget cuts this year by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, or the WDNR, have cut over 50% of the budget to stock the brown trout. Unfortunately, this means that Lake Michigan won’t be stocked with these big buddies, which means there won’t be anywhere to rear them.

Underwater photography of The Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) in a mountain lake.

Now you know where to find these trout, how to fish for them, and even some weird tidbits about them. Go fish for these trophies and be joyful!

Blog Posts Fin-Telligence Fresh

Fin-Telligence: Trout

After a rainstorm, if you’ve got a puddle of water in your backyard, chances are there’s trout in it. Think I’m kidding? Trout are among the most prevalent gamefish on the planet. According to wildlife biologists, there are 34 recognized species in North America alone. Double (some experts say triple) that figure on a global scale when you include all the hybrids and crossbreeds. Streams, lakes, rivers, seas and oceans all have some form of trout lurking within. But besides their massive numbers, trout have another claim to fame—they’re the reason fly-fishing was invented. Many centuries ago, observant anglers watched fish they had been unable to catch (trout are notoriously finicky) pluck insects off the water’s surface. Floating artificial baits were created and the rest is history.


Trout are everywhere. No matter where in the world you are, chances are good that there are trout nearby. Even desert climates—especially the Southwestern United States—have trout in their waterways. But if you want to get specific, the regions und Denver, Colorado, Bozeman, Montana and the New York Catskills  are considered the trout flyfishing capitols of the U.S.

Salmon River, NY
Salmon River, NY. Yeah, its not the Catskills but you do not need to be in one of the trout capitols of the world to get your trout on. They are literally everywhere.


Like any species, there are always monsters among the masses. But the majority of trout you’ll be fishing for are probably in the 12”-18” range. So if you’re routinely catching two-foot trout, keep that fishing spot a secret! That said, trout are best pursued on light line, around 12# test or less. Some Reelerz believe 6# to 8# is the ideal poundage, providing both a good test for the angler and a fair fight for the fish. Spinning, bait-casting, fly—no matter which discipline you enjoy, match your tackle to the line. You don’t need trolling rigs spooled with heavy braid to catch trout.

Dude lands a trout
This guy was probably using the right tackle because he landed a beauty!


Trout are voracious eaters, and have been known to chow down on fish up to half their own length. Besides other fish, trout feed on mealworms, bloodworms, flies, mayflies, dragonflies, caddisflies, zooplankton, mollusks (clams and mussels), and small eels. There are even stories about Reelerz catching enormous brown trout using chunks of uncooked hot dogs. When using artificial lures or flies, try to select designs that mimic the usual food sources of the trout in that specific area.

Taste & Nutrition

Not only are trout delicious, they are among the healthiest fish you can eat. Generally speaking, trout are extremely low in mercury content, including farm-raised trout. They are also low in fat (around 6 grams for a 3-oz serving) and very high in protein (20-21 grams per 3-oz serving). They can be served any number of ways, but because the meat is delicate be mindful not to overcook it, dry it out and ruin the flavor.

These trout are probably from Whole Foods.
Not sure what this chef is cooking up in this amazing stock photo it’s got peppers and my mouth is watering already.

Other Facts

  • Trout have exceptional eyesight, and can focus out of both corners of each eye simultaneously, translating into seeing in every direction at the same time. They’re also keen at spotting fishing line.
  • If caught, pregnant female trout should be released immediately. They usually carry between 900-1,000 eggs per pound of bodyweight and are the key to keeping the species thriving.
  • Trout and salmon can interbreed, producing a wide variety of hybrids.
  • Brown trout can live to be upwards of 20 years old.
  • Trout are not considered man-eaters, but there is an unconfirmed tale about a man bathing in an African river who was devoured by fish thought to piranha turned out to be a species of highly aggressive trout.


  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for brown trout: 42 lb 1 oz, caught by Otwin Kandolf on March 8, 2013, in Oahu Canal, New Zealand.
  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for rainbow trout: 48 lb 0 oz, caught by Sean Konrad on September 5, 2009, in Lake Diefenbaker, Canada.
  • Current IGFA all-tackle world record for lake trout: 72 lb 0 oz, caught by Lloyd Bull on August 19, 1995, in Great Bear Lake, northwest Territories, Canada.