Thread: Bigger trout
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Old 05-24-2013, 12:51 PM
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NCHillbilly NCHillbilly is offline
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Never fished the Hooch, but trout are trout, and back in my younger days, I used to do a lot of fishing specifically targeting big browns here in western NC. Here's a few things I learned over the years:

First of all, I'm not talking about those big two-foot-long stocker "brood fish" that they dump in the stocked creeks sometimes. You can catch them on anything, just like the other hatchery doughbellies. I'm talking about stream-bred and old holdover browns that have been in the creek for years.

You can catch a big trout here and there by chance using almost any method if you fish enough and put in enough hours on the water. I've caught a few trout over 20" fly fishing, mostly on nymphs or big streamers, and even on a dry fly. I've caught them on small spinners, and I once even caught a 28" lake-run brown that weighed close to ten pounds on a micro-tube jig under a float while I was crappie fishing.

BUT- to consistantly catch +20" browns, you have to fish differently than you do to catch numbers of normal-sized trout. When trout get that size, they don't usually hang around eating bugs (unless there is a major hatch of flies or some such going on,) they are predators that are after a lot of meat at one chomp. A big brown will eat foot-long hatchery trout, snakes, horneyheads, crawfish, chipmunks, or about anything else that lives in or falls into the water.

First point: use big lures. The ones that have worked the best for me to consistantly catch big browns are big Rapalas (#7-#11,) and big, deep running spinners-specifically, Blue Fox Super Vibrax Spinners in #2 or # 3 or even #4 size depending on how deep the water is. You want the gold blade with a plain treble. Mepps Aglias and Helix work, as do big black/yellow Panther Martins, but there is just something about the Blue Fox that seems to make big browns want to eat it. Another point to using big lures is to get them down deep. Big browns aren't as apt to come to the surface to feed-just getting a lure down deeper than other fishermen makes a difference.

Second point: fish where they are. The bigger browns are usually in the deeper holes with cover, such as log jams and undercut banks, big rocks, and overhanging tree limbs. You don't usually find big browns out in shallow, open water. They will come out of cover to feed in the right conditions, but they're still going to be near these types of places. Expect to lose a lot of lures, because you're fishing deep around cover.

Third point: fish at the right time. Right at daylight in the morning, and just before dark at night are best during normal weather. Especially early morning before the fog burns off. Bigger browns tend to be nocturnal or low-light feeders.

Early spring is by far the best time of year. Around here, I've caught most of my bigger trout in April and May. Weather and water condition is also very important. Rainy, drizzly days are the best.

The absolute best time to catch a big brown is right after a good heavy thunderstorm when the water rises a little and starts to get a dingy off-color. That's when those big browns come out from under their fortresses and lay in the edge of the current in the swift runs at the heads of those deep holes and gorge themselves. They're actively feeding, and they're holding in a spot where you can get a lure to them.

Fourth point: Be persistant, work hard at it, and don't be afraid to try something different. By the time a brown gets big, he has seen about every bait and lure made come drifting by him, and has maybe been caught and released more than once. Fishermen tend to be lazy and have a herd instinct-most of the people fishing a stream will often be using much the same baits and techniques and fishing the same places the same way.

What you want to do is be different. For example, if a hole is usually fished from one side of the river by most people, go to the other side and work your lure from a different direction than the fish is used to seeing. If it's hard to get over there, so much the better.

Don't give up. If you know or suspect that a big brown is living in a certain hole, keep after him, and try to get there under ideal conditions. And remember, fishing like this, you won't catch a lot of fish, but the ones you do catch will be mostly good ones.

Fifth point- don't be afraid to try different lures and techniques that the trout haven't seen. The ones I listed are probably the best all-around for big trout fishing, but other things can be very effective sometimes in some situations, especially on heavily-fished streams. I'm talking weird stuff like throwing deep-running bass crankbaits, flukes, big spoons, and such in trout streams. People will look at you funny and laugh at you, but you can laugh right back at themat them when you catch that big hook-jawed brown out from under their noses. I learned this lesson from a man who probably couldn't have normally caught a trout if it was hemmed up in a five-gallon bucket and he had a dip net in his hand:

I was camping once many years ago in a National Park campground on a small trout stream in the Smokies. There were a whole bunch of us locals camping there fly-fishing that week. Most of us grew up fishing this creek, and could catch a fish out of it if one could be caught by anybody. This was in summertime, the weather was hot, the water was low and clear, and the fishing was as tough as I had ever seen it. Nobody was catching any fish. These were spooky wild trout, and the creek got a lot of fishing pressure.Most of us locals who knew the creek well were doing good to catch a few 6" dinks, and we were having to sneak around in the bushes, make long casts, use 10' leaders, less-than-1-lb-test tippets and tiny little dry flies about the size of dandruff flakes to catch even those few little guys, and they were pretty much only hitting in the first and last hours of daylight.

About noon one day, we were sitting around talking and tying flies at a picnic table at one of our campsites, when this yuppie tourist family from Florida comes rolling into the campground in a big Winnebago. After they got their camp set up, the tourist guy sees our fly rods leaning up against the trees at our campsite and comes over to talk. He likes to fish, but the only fishing he has ever done is bass fishing in Florida. He wants really bad to catch a trout, but knows absolutely nothing about them or how to catch them, and wants advice. We tell him that the fishing is as tough as it gets this week on this creek, and that maybe he should go try a trout pond or one of the heavily-stocked trout streams over on the Cherokee reservation.

He thanks us and walks back to his campsite. A few minutes later he emerges from his Winnebago, and goes walking through the campground toward the creek toting a big bait-casting rod with about twenty-pound-test line on it, and what looks like a Texas-rigged chartreuse firetail plastic worm about 10" long with about a 1/2-ounce bullet sinker and a 5/0 hook hanging off the end of it. We all laughed until we couldn't breathe after he got out of sight.

He had been gone about maybe five minutes and we were still laughing and cracking jokes at his expense when he comes back up through the campground carrying his rod in one hand and a big fat hook-jawed 27" brown trout in the other hand. He came over and asked us if it was big enough to keep. He said trout fishing was a lot easier than bass fishing-he had just walked down to the creek and cast into the first big hole he came to, and this trout had grabbed the plastic worm on the first cast and he winched it in. He ate it for supper and said it tasted pretty good, kinda like salmon.
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