Trout Fishing Information
One of America’s favorite past times is fishing. One of the most fun ways to fish is fly fishing. And trout are one of the favorite fishes to go after with a fly rod. Trout are usually found in clear cold freshwater mountain streams and in lakes throughout North America. Some of the lakes are of the alpine variety high in the mountains but some can be lower such as lakes in the Denver, Colorado metro area. As long as a lake is deep enough for trout to survive summer heat, winter cold and has an adequate food supply, they will thrive. Certain species of trout such as steelhead, sea run brown trout, bull trout, salmon and arctic char will spend most of their adult lives in the sea. Then they will return to the home stream where they were hatched to spawn. This behavior is called andromadous reproduction.
There are many different species of trout. Some trout populations that are isolated from each other are morphologically different. Besides coloration and spot patterns on the back and sides, many of the different trout species display no significant genetic differences. The same species of trout that live in different habitats may be named differently. For example, the cutthroat trout like all trout is a subspecies of salmon. There 14 or 15 (depending on your sources) recognized species of cutthroats. The main varieties in Colorado are the Rio Grande, the Colorado River and the state fish the Greenback Cutthroat. Snake River and Yellowstone cutts have been introduced to add variety to the native species. Unfortunately the yellow fin cutthroat which was found in lakes around the Arkansas River headwaters has been fished to extinction. This cutt would often grow to ten pounds. The brook trout and the aurora trout, a subspecies of brook trout, all have physical characteristics and colorations that distinguish them to be different but, genetic analysis shows that they are one species, Salvelinus fontinalis. Brook trout and aurora trout can be easily identified by the white edge on the front of their fins.
Typically, the colors and patterns of trout fish are used as camouflage based on the surroundings in which they live. Trout fear overhead predators, river otters, bigger fish and man so they use their colors and patterns to blend into their surroundings. This is especially true on the back colors which are used to hide the fish from overhead predators.
Steelhead, salmon or other fish returning from the sea will often look very silvery since that was the color that camouflaged them at sea. But the same strain of trout living in a stream or lake will likely have a more pronounced greenish to brownish back with spotted sides.
Depending on the body of water that you are fishing, you will find different trout. The size of fly used to catch a trout fish is often dependent on the size and species of the fish you are targeting.
Generally larger fish will go for a bait fish imitation such as a Muddler Minnow or Clouser Minnow. Smaller fish can be caught on a variety of aquatic invertebrates. Midges or Diptera are a staple in Colorado streams year round and a main source of food in winter. Mayflies, caddis, stoneflies, terrestrials and of course prey fish are other main food sources.
Trout have spineless fins that are used to steer them in stream currents, lakes or at sea. Generally trout have three lateral fins, one dorsal fin on the largest part of the back and one adipose fin on the back close to the tail. Trout are often considered a bony fish. But filleting a large trout and properly cooking a smaller trout will offer some fine eating. Running a table knife along the spine of a cooked trout will loosen the flesh. Then use a fork to lift the flesh straight off the bones. Trout are also raised on fish farms for food and can be purchased in the market. But they are a poor substitute for a fish caught from a mountain stream.
Because of their popularity with meat fishermen, trout populations are often overfished and quickly depleted. To combat overfishing and to meet the demand for catchable fish, State Wildlife Agencies run hatchery programs to raise trout. Rainbow trout which are susceptible to whirling disease are often raised in hatcheries then stocked in streams and lakes. The Agencies also work to improve stream habitat which will produce better spawning conditions.
Different methods including spinning, bait fishing and fly fishing are used to catch trout. When many mountain streams are gin clear and only a foot or less deep, it is difficult to drag spinners thru and catch fish. This is where fly fishing really is superior. You can float a lot of flies in sizes 16 to 26 through only one foot or less of water and catch a trout. Maybe even your trophy trout of a lifetime.