Catching Big Trout
©2017 E. Macri All Rights Reserved.
One of the early fly fishing writers Edward Hewitt once said that a fly fisherman goes to three stages. The
first stage he wants to catch the most trout. The second stage he wants to catch the largest trout. The third stage
he wants to catch the wisest trout. Some fly anglers think that the largest trout is the wisest trout but that is
not always true. In some streams it is true that the largest fish can be the smartest fish because in order to get
that way they had to survive both environmental pressure and fishing pressure. However, big trout can sometimes be
dumb. To the accomplished fly angler he knows when such things will occur. He makes a point of being on the stream
at that time with the right fly pattern.
The reason some fly anglers never catch big trout is because they assume it's all luck. It can be luck or it can
be a combination of both luck and skill. In order to catch big trout one has to understand the basic premise of
catching them. Some of this seems obvious but to many fly anglers it is not as obvious as we think. I've
caught a lot of big trout in my life. The trout are fun to catch and are fun to try and deceive. Over the years
I've learned a lot of things about catching big trout. Let's talk about a few of those things right now.
Find A Stream That Contain Big Trout
In order to catch big trout you must have a stream or body of water that contains such fish. This seems obvious
but it's really not. So how do you determine if your stream or river has such fish! Statistically speaking you will find more big fish in larger
waters than smaller waters. There are exceptions! The exceptions are spring creeks. Why? Because spring creeks
have a constant temperature regime in which the fish grow all year. Therefore, the trout don't have to fight
the summer drought or the winter conditions. Trout in spring creeks grow at a rapid rate. However, even some
small streams will have big trout. Why? Because in some of the small streams there is enough habitat or places
to hide that a big trout can survive. In most instances these will be Brown trout streams. How do you know if
your stream contain such fish? Well there are many ways to find this out. You have seen such fish in the
stream or you have seen other people catch such fish in the stream. You have seen areas of the stream where
such fish could hide. I may have told you this before but there's a local stream not far from me that is not
really that good. It's fished heavily in the spring for stocked trout but after that most anglers give up on
it. But every few years it seems that some girl or young boy catches a large Brown trout in the stream using
nightcrawlers while sucker fishing during high water either in the summer or spring. These large fish will
survive in places that most anglers think they can't exist.
Use the Right Fly For Large Trout: Usually Streamers!
Another way of finding out whether there are large trout in the stream and most anglers for some reason don't
use this method is to use extremely large flies such as massive streamers at certain times of the year. This is
especially true in the spring when big trout can be reckless in high water and will chase a big streamer. Another
way of finding these fish and I've talked about this before is to use binoculars and scan the water very early in
the morning. Most big trout including Brown trout over 12 to 14 inches feed either at night or early in
the morning most of the year in these types of streams.
So let's say you have determined that there are some large fish in a nearby stream. If they are rainbow trout be
wary because they will move. Most rainbows unless they are resident strains tend to have a wanderlust.
The bigger fish will eventually move downstream usually unless it spawning time. There are exceptions
however including spring creeks like Big spring and Falling Spring Run where these trout maintain their residency.
For big rainbows I hate to say it but one fly you should always try is fish spawn or egg flies. However most of the
flies are way too large that anglers use. Rainbow trout and brown trout especially like sucker spawn. Sucker spawn
tends to be rather small around the size of a number 16 hook. This is something you should always try in a stream
for rainbow trout.
Rainbow trout will hit sucker spawn and other small egg flies all year. Big rainbows will also hit streamers.
These large trout especially like bright colored Matukas. Another super pattern for these fish would be crayfish
imitations. These are three flies that you should fish in the right places for large rainbow trout. You can catch
big rainbows during the daylight hours on many streams by using these three patterns and fishing in the proper
Brown trout on the other hand tend to be more finicky. Your best bet with a big Brown in a small stream is a
look for one of them cruising right before dark or quite early in the morning. The legendary Ed Shank made this
into an art form while fishing the famed Letort. Using his his Sculpin patterns he would take large trout year
in and year out on the Letort with this method. Sculpin patterns are especially good for big Brown trout. Another
fly that is deadly for Brown trout even large Brown trout is the classic Black Ghost. The real problem with looking
for cruising trout such as big Browns is that they scare rather easily and that you must almost hit them in the
head with the fly to get their attention without spooking them. This can be a rather difficult task. In the
summertime one of the best techniques is to use a smaller streamer about a 10 or 12 tied sparsely on a long tippett
and basically flip this against the banks and let it fall to the bottom of the stream and slowly and retrieve it
and then jerk it in area where you know there might be some big Browns.
In order to catch big trout you have to go after them. It is worth your efforts to investigate the possibilities
of whether such fish exist in your streams. You don't need a lot of fly patterns. And you don't need a lot of time.
You will either see the fish or spook them. Just remember where you saw them and then come back again and again.
This is especially true of Brown trout who usually will be found within 100 to 200 feet of their resting lie.
What about dry flies, terrestrials, and nymphs for big trout? Well that's another lesson altogether but what
I've told you in this short article is actually the quickest and best ways of catching big trout.
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©2017 E. Macri