Trout Fishing Techniques

There are two common trout species. The brown trout and the rainbow trout. The brown trout is native to Britain and Europe whilst the rainbow trout was introduced from America towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Rainbow trout do not breed naturally in British rivers and lakes so stocks rely almost entirely on hatchery reared fish. Rainbow trout can grow very large and fish weighing more than 30 lb (13-5 kg) have been reared in fish farms. Producing fish of this size is expensive so most trout fisheries stock their rivers with rainbow trout weighing between 1 and 2 lb (0.45 to ogo kg). The name rainbow implies a highly colourful fish, but in fact rainbow trout are often less colourful than the brown trout. When in peak condition the rainbow trout is not very colourful at all, having a distinct silvery appearance. It is when approaching spawning condition that the rainbow trout takes on the colours which gave it its name. The male fish especially become very dark, almost black, with a vivid red or pink band running along the length of the body. The spots or speckles on the rainbow trout are small and spread along the body to cover the fins and tail.

The colouration of the brown trout can vary tremendously even on those fish caught from the same stretch of river. Some brown trout are covered in speckles whilst others have only a few large spots around the gill covers and along the back. The spots on the brown trout are larger than those on the rainbow and have a white or pale halo surrounding them. Very few, if any, spots are found on the tail of a brown trout. Brown trout which have lived in a river for a long time often have a yellow or gold tint to their flanks and belly. The spots on the rainbow trout can be black or red.

Trout are not a shoal fish although groups of rainbow trout may often be located feeding together in a reservoir. In a river, trout require cool, well-oxygenated water and are usu-ally found only in the middle and upper reaches. Brown trout spawn at a different time of year to coarse fish. The eggs are laid amongst the gravel between November and January and may take up to 12 weeks to hatch.

The female trout will make a hollow in the fine gravel by wafting her tail. This hollow is known as a redd, and the eggs are laid in this, and then covered over with fine gravel. Brown trout do not normally grow as large as rainbow trout but, in some very large rich lakes, specimens can reach a weight of 20 lb (9 kg). In fast-flowing spate rivers a brown trout of 2 lb (09 kg) is a good fish and the average size is likely to be only 12 oz (340 g). Although brown trout will breed freely in a river, angling pressure is usually so high that the stocks have to be maintained by introducing fish reared in hatcheries. Trout will feed on almost anything from surface flies to small fish. They are greedy fish and at times very easy to catch. This is why most trout fishing is restricted to fly only and a limit placed on the number of fish you can take home. Without these restrictions most waters would soon have their trout population removed by anglers.

Locating trout

In a river, trout will usually be found in the faster water or in the shallow tail of a pool. When there is a big hatch of fly, the trout will position themselves just below the surface, rising to suck in the flies as they float past. Trout do not like high water temperatures and in the summer months will often feed best towards the evening. During the summer the shallows will be full of tiny coarse fish fry and minnows. Trout will venture into very shallow water to chase these tiny fish often creating a big bow wave on the surface as they charge about. Wading in a river is often necessary to enable you to present a fly to a trout. Do not wade along the river unless you must. Clumsy wading frightens trout and you will scare many more fish than you catch.

In a large, featureless reservoir locating trout can sometimes be difficult. If a wind is blowing, it is best to fish into the wind, which will carry hatching insects to one side of the reservoir and the trout will congregate in this area. It is not always easy casting into the wind but you will not have to cast far, since the face of a lake does not do so evenly. Narrow channels can be seen where the effect of the wind on the surface layer is greatest. These wind lanes are the places where most of the insect life will be carried along by the surface drift, attracting trout to the area.

Baits and tackle for catching trout

On some rivers worm fishing for trout is allowed. The best type of worms are brandlings or gill tails. To enjoy the most sport use a 12 foot (3-65 metre) float rod and 3 lb (1.35 kg) breaking strain line. In small pools, position yourself at the head of the pool and cast your float into the main flow. Allow your float tackle to be carried down at the speed of the current. Many trout rivers have a rocky bed, so set your float so that you are fishing just clear of the rocks. If the water is shallow use a carrot float but for deeper swims use a buoyant avon or balsa float. Stick floats work well in the smooth glides, but in turbulent water they are not buoyant enough and will be dragged under if you try to hold your tackle back in the current. Use a size 14 barbless hook and then you will be able to return any undersize trout without damaging them. Any trout you want to take home for eating should be killed quickly and cleanly with a blow to the back of the head. Don’t put dead trout in a polythene bag and leave them on the bank because if it is sunny they will quickly ‘go ofF and lose their flavour. Never be tempted to kill more trout than you actually need for eating.