Posted by: Tom Keer
March 29, 2012

Tom Keer

The Things We Learn About Trout

With trout fishing in full swing I reached out to my friend Shannon Skelton for some not-so-common insights into trout.  Shannon owns a company called CFI – Global Fisheries Management (www.cfiglobal.com) that specializes in stream restoration and enhancement.  Rather than just stock trout and hope they take, Shannon re-engineers stream beds, stream ecology, baitfish, insect life, feeding, holding, and breeding grounds, you name it. He creates an environment that is like a Disney World for Trout.  Call him Mister Trout if you will.  Here are four facts about one of our favorite game fish.


1.         Most fishermen consider brown trout to be the hardest trout to catch.
The fact is they haven’t really earned that title.  Brown trout are more nocturnal than other Salmo counterparts.  So if you want to catch more browns, go fishing in low-light conditions (first light, last light, at night).  Brown trout also don’t like to be out in the open, and they like to be surrounded by dense cover.  When hunting browns try targeting areas with lots of structure like deadfall, undercut banks, or weed-beds.


2.         Bigger trout eat big meals. A trout can move in a singular burst of speed of 11.48 feet per second while a dace moves at a slower 7.32 feet per second.  Bigger fish can easily nail a smaller fish, so plan your trip accordingly.  If you are fishing in an area that holds big trout you can increase your hook ups by using streamers, bucktails or live shiners.  Want to catch a big brown? Combine the above two points and fish a streamer pattern near structure at low light.  Bang.

3.         Optimal temperature for a trout is a few degrees on either side of 66.
Most trout can survive in a water temperature range of between 33 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  But at around 66 degrees, they burn up food.  To maintain its body weight, a 13-inch rainbow needs 0.184 ounces of food per day.  To grow it must eat 0.6 ounces per day.  The point? If the temperature is ideal the trout must feed.  And since they’ll need to eat a lot of small mayflies to stay fit, game on!  If you want to catch more fish, spend as much time on the river when the water temperature is around 66 degrees.

4.         Fish have two types of muscle: red muscle and white muscle.  Red muscle is loaded with capillaries which keep muscle oxygenated during constant swimming and cruising speeds.  White muscle has fewer capillaries and is used for shorter bursts.  Ex: tuna have lots of red muscle for sustained high-speed cruising, while trout have mostly white muscle.  So, a trout will need recovery time after a fight.  Anglers who practice catch-and-release should land their trout as quickly as possible to ensure the fish will recover quickly and easily.


Tom Keer is an award-winning freelance writer who lives on Cape Cod,  Massachusetts. He regularly writes for over a dozen magazines, and is the contributing editor of Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America and a columnist for The Upland Almanac. His book a “Flyfisher’s Guide to the New England Coast” was published by Wilderness Adventures Press in 2010. Visit him at www.tomkeer.com or at www.thekeergroup.com.

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