Smoky Mountain Fishing - Brown Trout Fishing

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Smokey Mountain Brown TroutIt has been said that brown trout are the true trout. They are native to Europe, as well as western Asia, and the extreme northeastern edge of Africa and are now indigenous to many waters they found to inhabit around the globe. In addition to fly-fishing, fishing for sport evolved within the brown trout's native range. The evolution of the word "trout" itself was later applied to such fish as cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout simply because of their resemblance to the brown trout.

Though categorized as a single species, brown trout themselves may show a wide variation in color and spotting patterns, behavior and habitual foods. Fish in a variety of rivers and streams and you'll eventually encounter brown trout that somehow look different from those you're used to catching. At some point, you may even encounter two different-looking brown trout in the same stream. The coloration of the brown's dorsal surface (back) varies from yellowish to olive-brown, gradually becoming lighter toward the belly of the fish. Along the flanks there are usually greater amounts of an overall yellow tint. On the fish's back, black spots are clearly present and in diminishing numbers as they flow down the sides. If you look along its sides, bright red spots can be seen, but in lesser numbers. On the tail, there a few, if any spots, which is in direct contrast with rainbow, the tails of which are spotted heavily. Brown trout do not have vermiculations like the brook trout, or wavy lines found on their backs. They also have teeth along the entire length of the roof of their mouths on their vomerine bone. Brown-trout coloration is not as pronounced in hatchery fish, but often display the more livelier colors of wild fish after several months in the stream.

Another unique trait of the brown trout is that they are able to change their color rapidly as a means of protection. They are also the only fish ever to use the stream bottom as a resting place. This helps explain why they adapt to different aquatic environments: Both fishermen and predators seeking them out can't spot them. NOTE: When it was said that they can change their color, it refers to changes in the background color of their skin. They are unable to change their spots.

The Range and Habitat of the Brown Trout

The range of the brown trout is much wider than that of the brook trout, and it is believed that they can survive in streams that no longer support brook trout. However, brown trout don't survive well in warm, polluted water either. They can survive for a short period in 81 degree Fahrenheit water, but usually the upper lethal limit for brown trout is about 77 degrees. Brown trout prefer water ranging from 54 to 67 degrees.

The main reason for the success of brown trout in streams depleted of brook trout is probably because brown trout are the harder of the two to catch.

The brown and the brook trout are competitive with one another to the extent that the dominant brown trout were preventing brook trout from preferential resting (not feeding) positions in the stream, therefore exposing the brook trout to predators. Brook trout are at a clear disadvantage when it comes to coexisting with brown trout due to their struggle for space in addition to the brook trout's greater vulnerability to angling. This is further aggravated by the numerous general angling regulations that say a certain number of trout per day may be caught without regard to species. Accordingly, the brook trout were removed at a faster rate than brown trout.

Cannibalism has also been a mentioned when talking about the brown trout, who feed heavily on young trout - this diet making them a larger-sized fish as well.

These characteristics have and continue to contribute to an already decimated brook trout population and have spearheaded the park authorities' efforts in protecting the brook trout.

To anglers, there are two aspects of the behavior of brown trout that are of great importance. Both aspects can be split in two based on the size of the fish. Brown trout that reach up to 12 inches in length are referred to as "drift feeders." Their primary diet consists of insects and various other food items found drifting in the current. Typically they stay stationary when feeding and stray only to intercept food in nearby currents. Longer brown trout (12 inches plus) will feed on larger things such as baitfish, crayfish, and smaller trout. Brown trout almost always grow larger, because of their diet, than the drift feeders - rare trophy-size browns. Knowing the differences between these two types of feeders can be vital to the angler and can provide for a better understanding of the species.

A more specific example occurred in the 1980s when a study showed that in flowing water a rising trout usually keeps rising in the same spot. Assuming that there is a continuously available food source, an undisturbed trout will usually rise in the same spot continuously from one day to the next, and so on unless the stream's configuration changes. You can spot these trout by just paying attention when you're fishing and remembering the precise location of each fish. This is one of many ways in which experienced anglers become more familiar with their favorite trout streams, and obviously has a lot to do with fishing success.

What was also gleaned out of the study was that brown trout don't spend most of their time near the bank or hiding under rocks and didn't feed only at dawn and dusk. In fact, as long as they were undisturbed (for example, the shadow of a passing bird) they fed all day. In the past, this behavior had remained a mystery to the average angler, who didn't know that after a few minutes to a half hour, the fish may return to feeding once again.

Any trout stream that's heavily trafficked from trout fisherman and others such inner-tube floaters and canoeists is another example, especially on summer days. More than likely, trout are hiding under the bank-side or other rocks aligning the stream. In the late evening, the trout will again move out to feed in the flats, well after river use has decreased or stopped all together. For those Smoky Mountain streams stocked with floaters and swimmers, the message is clear: fish early or fish late (the brown trout is more often nocturnal simply to avoid its predators, which hunt mostly in the daytime).

Size of the Brown Trout

Like other trout, the growth of brown trout varies exponentially. This depends primarily on a stream's productivity and also on the particular strain of brown trout. A year-old fish may average three inches in length, and by their second year reach an average of six inches, eight inches in their third year, and 12 inches in their fourth year. Typically, a brown has a sever year life span, unless anglers, or other predators, get to them first.

Restoration efforts have led park managers to close some streams and tributaries to all fishing, thus ensuring natural barriers such as waterfalls are adequate enough to prevent the brown and rainbow trout from migrating upstream.

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