Spawning Season

I’m sure there’s some biological reason why browns change their colors in November and December, during the spawning season, but I don’t know what it is.  Sometimes they turn golden brown, other times their spots brighten and pop.  The streambeds shred their fins and scar their bellies.

Dark silhouettes stitch to the bottom of the river and orbit redds.

I know the reasons I shouldn’t fish the brown spawn—that I should let these fish be, let them procreate so I can come back the next year and catch more.  I also know the reasons I should fish it—that browns are invasive and out-compete cutthroat trout, a native whose spawns I don’t disturb. 

I don’t pretend that protecting the cutties makes me noble.  But I’m not coldhearted, either—I care about more than just ripping lips and hauling in hogs.  For whatever reason—maybe the season, maybe the sheer number of trout that are there to catch, maybe the solitude on the river—it’s one of my favorite times to fish.

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6 thoughts on “Spawning Season

  1. John Berry says:

    so… if you fish the brown trout spawn in an effort to help the Cutt’s, do you kill the browns?

  2. I don’t. I probably should in some of the places I fish. I know there has been some talk about culling the browns out of a section of the Blacksmith Fork River (a river I fish often). If the DNR approached anglers and asked them to harvest their brown catches, I guess I would, but it would be hard for me.

    • Chadd here — I don’t kill the browns, either. I guess we’re hoping that fishing hard through the brown spawn disrupts their productivity, while we (and most fly anglers we know) give the cutts privacy during their spawn. I think what Russ was trying to say is that we like to think this gives the cutts a slight advantage (so try not to burst our bubble).

  3. John Berry says:

    As much as I love seeing/fishing or reading about “native” trout in their home rivers, I’m skeptical about any policy the DNR would enact. Plus, in our area I’m even more skeptical that “we” ( collective citizen/anglers), could ever manage or hope to keep pure and clean any waters that did hold native fish. We’d just screw it up. So, back to my original comment, if we, as anglers want to fish for native trout, why not take personal measures to make it that way?

  4. Chadd here again — John, I started to reply again and the reply got too long for a blog comment. So, I’m e-mailing you. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  5. Very nice photos! Here in NY/PA a big concern is how to deal with browns and rainbows staging at the relatively few remaining brookie streams. As the weather and the waters warm, it’s good to have a plan.

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