Common Name: Brown Trout a.k.a. Speckled Carp
Scientific Name: Salmo trutta
Appearance: As their name would imply, brown trout are mostly brown, becoming slightly silvery or reddish along the sides. Their bodies are heavily spotted, with brown spots on their back and red spots with pale outlines farther down on their body. The tail of a brown is sharply squared off, while their heads resemble that of their relatives, the brook trout.
Distribution: Originally native to Europe and Africa, the brown trout was imported to the Americas in the late 1800s and quickly spread throughout the continent (only three fish survived from the first batch,from whomall present-day North American brown trout are descended). A fly-fishing favorite, brown trout are hardy fish capable of surviving in waters us to 10 degrees warmer than other species of trout. They’re also able to endure higher levels of pollution and lower levels of oxygen than many fish.
Spawning: Brown trout dig nests in which to lay and fertilize their eggs inthe gravel bottoms of rivers and lakesat depths ranging from 7′ to 15′ deep. Spawning typically lastsfrom September to December, with some variation due to environmental factors. Over 90 percent of brown trout eggs are devoured by minnows and crustaceans during the three to five weeks it takes them to hatch.
Angling: Brown trout can be found feeding in the shade of brush and trees during the daylight hours, or most anywhere close to structure after dark. Their skittish nature, keen senses,and tendency to cling to obstructions makes presenting a bait, lure, or fry to browns difficult, demanding a skillful, stealthy, approach. On the plus side, browns are aggressive feeders that will strike most anything: live bait, artificial lures, flies (larger browns will even attack birds, muskrats, and snakes). So as long as you canget a lure close enough to a brown without tipping them off to your presence with excessive noise or light, the odds are good that you’ll get a bite.
Try casting by structure- rocks, brush, logs -near the edge of a fast-moving river, or in any deep, slower pools you come across. While it’s true that browns will strike most any type of lure, they generally prefer muted, natural colors to flagrantly fake, bright ones. Get a weighted lure as close to the bass as possible, preferrably a bit upstream of their hiding place, and allow it to sink slowly to the bottom as the current carries it past the fish. Patience is the name of the game, as brown trout will watch a bait for a good, long time (sometimes upwards of 10-20 minutes) before moving in for the kill.
Night fishing for brown trout is a fun and rewarding tactic. Browns become extremely active feeders at night, and can often be heard splashing around in pursuit of prey from quite some distance. If you can move in close with your motors and lights off, odds are you’re in for some great action.
Even in deep water, browns will stay close to whatever cover is available, and are best attracted by a slow-moving lure moved along the bottom. When fishing for browns in very deep water (e.g., the Great Lakes), troll a spoon or wobbling crankbait several hundred feet behind the boat (browns are easily scared by engine noise, so the farther the better) at depths of 30′ to 60′.
Brown trout are highly territorial and cannibals, casuing them to be distributed rather sparsely in the waters they inhabit. If you come across a seemingly deserted, but promising (structure-filled) area of a lake known to contain brown trout, odds are that a very large brown has staked the area out as its territory and chased away (or eaten) all rivals. Be patient, and explore every likely spot in the area – odds are the lunker is hiding somewhere nearby.