Wild Trout Making a Remarkable Recovery
To the delight of anglers as well as the surprise of biologists, wild trout are making an excellent recovery in much of the West.
This good news comes after years of bad news for one of the West’s incredible wildlife resources. By the mid-1960s, trout habitat was vanishing: dams had dried some streams, others were unlivable. Many waters overfished. A generation of anglers was growing up getting the only hatchery-raised trout.
Now, though, even as salmon and other seagoing fish continue bad fall, a modest but rising variety of inland lakes and streams upsurge with growing populations of trout. Fishing for trout wild trout is better now than in 20 years.
The turnaround began with a change in approach. Anglers were concerned that wild forms of trout (see next page) were vanishing. Also, they recognised that antiquated regulations weren’t shielding trout as fishing pressures rose. Working with state biologists, little groups of anglers helped develop management plans that shielded staying wild trout populations.
“We’re Not talking about hatchery fish,’ stresses California fisheries biologist John Deinstadt. “In fact, we have discovered that hatchery stocking, together with poor property management and overfishing, has been part of the issue. But the greatest surprise is how radically wild trout fish that are born and live in a stream have reacted to minimal progress in habitat. We are rediscovering that the easiest way to enhance fishing would be to shield trout setting.’
Now eight states have developed wild trout plans: putting a stop to stocking on designated waters and placing limitations on fishing gear and restrictions, including catch and release. The purpose is in part to guard trout habitat and conserve endangered varieties, but mainly to enhance fishing on many the West’s most fertile streams.
And yet, as trout season opens this spring, the future of the valuable recreational resource is far from specific. Even as the variety of wild trout waters enlarges, the quality of Western lakes and streams continues to fall.
On the subsequent pages, we will show you what is at stake and provide you with a state by state upgrade. We are going to describe some the planet’s finest angling and detail what you will have to begin.
Not only “factory’ fish
Why are wild trout so significant? “Mainly for their genetic diversity,’ describes Deinstadt. “Maintaining pure forms of trout with differing characteristics particularly inside their native habitats is vital if we want to have vigorous fisheries later on. Wild trout are cash in the bank.’
Trout are additionally a great barometer of environmental quality. To supply food, shelter, and spawning areas for a trout population needs comparatively undisturbed habitat. Logging, mining, dam construction, and agriculture require a high price; fewer and fewer streams are effective at supporting wild trout in prosperity.
Hatchery-raised trout (which frequently have cut or frayed fins) are neither as finicky not as hardy; they’re bred mainly for their capability to grow rapidly on a diet of fish kibble in packed cement tanks. Recent studies reveal that when catchable (8 plus inches) stocked in a stream, 80 percent are either captured or expire by the end of the season. Growls one purist, “Those factory fish are so dumb they wouldn’t understand a bug if it bit them.’
In the early ’60s, stocking streams appeared the response to growing fishing pressure and deteriorating habitats. However, as public concern about decreasing water quality grew, so did angler worry about the consequences of a stocking. Not only were genetically pure wild trout interbreeding with stocked trout, but fishermen were becoming hatchery truck groupies.
A story of two studies
The notion of wild trout direction appeared in the ’60s, but it took a couple of concerned anglers to show it could work.
In 1968, a group of fishermen from San Francisco got state biologists to permit them to examine ideas for revitalising the wild trout population in a once classic northern California stream called Hat Creek.
Their proposition was straightforward: to toxin resident fish, clean up the stream and restock it once with wild trout fingerlings, and after that make the daily limit two fish instead of 10. Results were fantastic. The amount as well as the size (minimal goalkeeper today is 18 inches) of trout grown dramatically even as many anglers went from about 2,000 in 1968 to 10,000 in 1973. Now, Hat Creek is just one of the most famous streams in the state, as well as the group, continues as California Trout.
About the same time, Montana biologist Richard Vincent was examining the consequences of putting hatchery fish among wild trout in the Madison River. His finding: hatchery trout displace wild fish from feeding and cover stations, causing wild trout numbers to drop significantly.
Get Then release
Among the very convincing arguments for sustaining wild trout populations is the price. States flush hundreds of dollars out the rear of a truck whenever they stock a stream. Prompted by budget cutting in addition to environmental concerns, five states had wild trout plans by 1975.
Better when compared to a decade of experiment has resulted in the present regulations that regulate and help conserve wild trout fishing. On many rivers, for example, anglers are limited to artificial flies or lures with single, barbless hooks.
Using such fishing gear and managing trout lightly while keeping them in water as much as actually possible, anglers can release fish with little more than a sore mouth. (A 1981 study on the Yellowstone River discovered trout were captured and released a mean of 9.7 times during one six-week season.) And you also may nevertheless take fish. Limitations on many streams are frequently one or two fish above a size that ensures the trout have had considerable opportunity to spawn.
But catch and release (no kill) regulations get the most publicity since they require anglers to define the reason why they fish: for food or pleasure.
A state by state look at wild trout
All states require anglers to get fishing licenses (short term or yearly). Make sure you analyse regulations: limitations on fishing gear, fish size, limitations, and the season could be complicated and might change to an individual stream.
Each listing contains the address of the state bureau you’ll be able to write to for regulations. Other resources also were given.
ALASKA. Even in this vast state, concern over fishing pressure has prompted the development of a wild trout plan which should be in final form this November. Focusing on the prize of a rainbows trout, the plan calls for designating whole watersheds in the Anchorage and Bristol Bay areas as wild trout waters
ARIZONA. Wild trout aren’t now a priority. However, they might get a lot more attention as this state moves away from its historical “put and take’ fishery. Becker and Chevelon lakes and 15 miles of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry are stocked with fingerlings and have regulations that encourage large rainbows.
CALIFORNIA. The very first state to designate wild trout waters, California now has 24 wild trout streams and six wild trout lakes. And by law, 25 miles of stream, as well as a lake, should be added annually.
Most wild trout waters are within a 5-hour drive from Los Angeles or San Francisco or both. Making them some of the very heavily fished waters in the West. On Hot Creek, near Mammoth, biologists estimate trout are got a mean of three to five times a season. The Truckee River near Lake Tahoe is just another reachable and attractive stream.
Other wild trout waters lightly fished since they include some serious hiking: the Middle Fork of the Feather near Quincy, the South Fork of the Merced near Wawona and Deep Creek near San Bernardino. Several lightly fished due to limited accessibility; for instance, on land held by The Nature Conservancy near McCloud, some anglers on the McCloud River are commanded. The rapidly going East Walker River near Bridgeport as well as the Owens River near Bishop are just plain tough to fish.
The Department of Fish and Game, Con Ed Branch, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento 95814, has comprehensive guide maps. California Trout Fishing, by Jim Freeman (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1983; $7.95), is dated but a classic; Sierra Trout Guide, by Ralph Cutter (Frank Amato Publications, Portland, 1984; $7.95), can help get you into backcountry fishing. California Trout, Room 859, 870 Market St., San Francisco 94102, is the state’s leading wild trout advocacy group; its newsletter (free with $20 yearly membership) is the greatest means to keep up with wild trout problems.
COLORADO. Public support has been crucial in enlarging designated waters from only 10 miles in 1979 to more than 250 now.
Some of the most productive wild trout activity is on sections of the Colorado and Blue rivers near Kremmling, the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan near Aspen, the South Platte at Deckers, the Arkansas near Salida, the Gunnison in and below Black Canyon, along with the Rio Grande near Del Norte. These are sections of large rivers between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in altitude; smaller, higher streams offer great sport but smaller fish.
The Colorado Division of Wildlife, 6060 Broadway, Denver 80216, prints a fishing map of the state for $1. The Colorado Angling Guide, by Chuck Fothergill and Bob Sterling (Stream Stalker Publishing, Aspen, Colo., 1985; $13.95), is worth every cent for the in-depth maps.
IDAHO. A wild trout policy was embraced here in 1975. Now some 1,200 miles of 21 wild trout streams are designated as having especially excellent fishing and scene. Five of these streams Billingsley Creek, Blackfoot River, Henry’s Branch (see map page 111), Little Wood River, and Silver Creek have regulations which help ensure decoration size wild trout will grow.
Part of Silver Creek runs through property owned by The Nature Conservancy, which is working with nearby ranchers to boost farming and ranching practices to secure the stream from sedimentation.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Box 25, Boise 83707, intends to truly have a new fishing guide (about $1) prepared by June. The Idaho Travel Council, Statehouse, Boise 83720, has a free holiday planner with a local guide and fishing tips.
MONTANA. Native cutthroats in lots of streams replaced by rainbows, browns, and other introduced trout species, which have become the basis of the state’s wild trout system. Now pure strain Snake River and Yellowstone cutthroats are observed in less than 8 percent of their native waters.
In 1974, Montana quit putting trout in all streams effective at supporting wild trout (the few remaining rivers and many lakes continue to stocked). The reward: by 1980, the population of wild rainbows had grown 400 percent; wild browns had doubled.
As in the majority of states, habitat degradation and water diversions are still enormous risks. Nevertheless, a 1975 law helps protect riverbanks and riverbeds from impact by private landowners; two other acts ensure minimum flows below water projects on several streams.
NEVADA. During the following couple of years, some 200 rivers and lakes will undoubtedly assess for inclusion in a planned wild trout program. At present, the Truckee River close to the California border and Walker Lake a handled for large trout, but both stocked. Write to Nevada Department of Wildlife.
The Pyramid Lake Indian Tribe is keeping wild Lahontan cutthroat people (typical goalkeepers run 5 pounds) by raising fry from spawning lake fish in hatcheries. Tribal fishing permits ($6 a day) are required.
NEW MEXICO. There is no wild trout plan, but biologists are restoring several streams with wild populations of native Gila trout.
On a 3 1/2 mile expanse of the San Juan River below Navajo Reservoir near Farmington, regulations permit year-round fishing for the water’s big fish. Stocked fingerlings supplement natural reproduction due to the pressure: 100,000 angler days in 1984.
The Department of Game and Fish, Villagra Building, State Capitol, Santa Fe 87503, has a free guide to state waters.
OREGON. Initially meant for trout, the wild fish plan embraced for all species in 1978. Now 95 percent of Oregon’s 28,000 miles of streams are wild.
You will see especially big fish in the hundred miles of the lower Deschutes River below Madras, on the Williamson, Sprague, and Klamath rivers, and in Upper Klamath Lake, near Klamath Falls.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Box 59, Portland 97207, does not have any guide, but Fishing in Oregon (Flying Pencil Publications, Portland, 1984; $10.95), is quite methodical. A $20 membership in Oregon Trout, Carton 19540, Portland 97219, contains a newsletter.
UTAH. Wild trout have a small but recognised plan here, with excellent angling along some 64 miles of specially designated rivers. The Provo River below Deer Creek Dam, the Strawberry below Soldier Creek Dam, as well as the Blacksmith Fork and also the Logan near Logan are prime fisheries. Additionally, 23 streams have regulations designed to maintain pure breeds of Bonneville cutthroats; 4 have been re-established to extend the trout’s range.
A guidebook is free from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1596 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City 84116.
WASHINGTON. A wild trout plan was embraced here last August, but pending laws could de-escalate it.
New regulations reducing limitations and limiting the use of lure regulate about 80 heavily fished streams (less than 2 percent of the state’s waters). Search for restored trout populations in two to four years. The Yakima River above Ellensburg, as well as the Elwha near Port Angeles, are great stakes this summer; look for progress in the summertime of 1987 on the Methow near Twisp as well as the North Fork of the Snoqualmie near Snoqualmie.
The Washington Department of Game is at 600 N. Capitol Way, Olympia 98504. The Washington State Fishing Guide, by Stan Jones (Stan Jones Publishing, Seattle, 1984; $6.95), is all-inclusive.
WYOMING. In 1975, more than half the state’s streams and 10 percent of its lakes designated wild trout waters. Some of these fisheries are also managed to make large trout; others have regulations that protect native species.
The 24 miles of the Snake River below Jackson Lake are designated wild trout water and are additionally managed to shield pure forms of the Snake River cutthroat. This season, a brand new slot limitation for this particular stretch demands release of all fish between 11 and 15 inches (spawning size).
The Clark’s Fork of the Yellowstone River near Cody, Sand Creek (a spring creek) east of Sundance, as well as the North Platte River near Saratoga are other top streams. The Communication Division of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cheyenne 82002, has a listing of guides. Tim Kelley’s Fishing Guide, by Tim Kelley (Hart Publications, Denver, 1985; $9.95), covers Colorado and Wyoming. The Wyoming Travel Commission, Cheyenne 82002, has a free holiday guide.
The West’s finest wild trout fishing?
Get a group of partisans around a campfire, and you will hear sound arguments for streams in nearly every state. However, for consistently great, accessible fishing, for the scene, and for great support from fishing gear shops and guides, likely the most suitable choice is Yellowstone state.
Much of the region particularly Yellowstone National Park and the south-west corner of Montana is naturally excellent trout habitat. Limestone bedrock supplies sufficient nutrients for aquatic plants and insects. Water remains in the prime temperature range 40| to 65| and gentle gradients provide good holding water.
Although spinning fishing gear may be lucky in certain scenarios, fly fishing is usually the easiest way to approach these waters. There is no puzzle to the sport. With original equipment and lessons or assistance from a guide, even beginners can tie into hard fighting trout. The best technique for success is understanding when to go and the best way to start.
Although seasons vary from stream to stream, many waters open, as well as the fishing, starts to pick up by the middle of May. You will have the ability to locate great fishing somewhere in the area (see map on page 111) from now until October.
Springtime. There may be some popular fishing now through June, but rivers are high with snowmelt, the weather is changeable, and great fishing can expire suddenly. Whirl Casters do nicely throwing hardware when streams are quite high and muddy; fly casters work harder with nymphs and streamers. One noteworthy exception, the Firehole, is generally at its best now, with mayfly and caddis hatches appearing ahead of those on many streams.
The real delight is due to the stonefly or “salmon fly’ hatch that brings up large trout on a half dozen rivers. The big (size 4 to 8) flies used simple to see and, unless it is blustery, require a little finesse to project. The hatch continues about fourteen days in a single place, going upstream as the current weather heats. Henry’s Branch begins in late May, the Big Hole in mid-June, the Madison above Ennis at the end of June, as well as the Yellowstone and Gallatin in early July.
Summer. Local specialists concur that July is usually the top month total, particularly for novices. Typically you will discover high stream states, warm weather, and consistent hatches (some two dozen important ones) of bigger insects.
By late June, smaller park streams are clear; look for the green drake hatch on the Henry’s Fork around June 20. Some of the region’s most dependable cutthroat fishing starts on the Buffalo Ford segment of the Yellowstone when that section opens July 15, but angling is elbow to elbow. Tributaries of large rivers clear by mid-July and are perfect for 10 to 15-inch trout nicely into September.
August can be iffier. Although water conditions are excellent, it’s the hottest and most brilliant time. Aquatic plants are more compact, and fish have a tendency to be spookier. Fishing on some rivers particularly the Big Hole and Firehole can drop off, but larger rivers such as the Madison and Yellowstone are still great. The Snake above Jackson, the Gallatin, as well as the Beaverhead, are at their finest. The season for imitation terrestrials: grasshoppers, ants, beetles. At noon, attempt throwing hoppers close to the bank on the chillier and more rapid rivers.
Both months indicate the peak of the Yellowstone holiday season, and anglers should reserve accommodation and guides now.
Fall. As the weather cools off by mid-September, fishing picks up again. Many seasoned fly casters consider this one of the finest times to fish in the vicinity of the park likely as the mosquitoes and vacationers are gone. Old timers anticipate a thunderstorm the 3rd weekend in September; it snowed on us two years past.
As the water cools, insect hatches become less striking and occur toward the centre of the day. The bugs are smaller than in summer as well as the fish (studies reveal many have been captured and repeatedly released by now) larger and wiser.
Enormous brown trout started spawning now and become simpler targets as they move out of their lairs toward gravel beds. The top Madison in the park reflects, with the most activity on large streamers.
Finding where the activity is. Mecca for most fly fishermen is West Yellowstone. Other excellent facilities are Bozeman, Butte, Ennis, Jackson, and Livingston. Haunt these towns’ fishing gear stores. Because states can change daily, your best option will be to get terminal tackle leaders, baits, flies locally. “We’ve guides out on the rivers daily, and we are joyful to tell people exactly where to go, what to use, and the best way to fish,’ describes West Yellowstone outfitter Bob Jacklin.
An excursion using a guide may be a great though high-priced investment. This summer, a day of guided fishing for two will range from $150 trekking the bank to $200 should you float in a boat (launch could contain; tip additional). Deal only with guides licensed by the state in the place where they run.
Fishing Gear, getting a great beginning
Fly fishing’s popularity has soared as regulations, and anglers’ attitudes toward sportfishing have transformed. The sport appeals mainly to people who appreciate trout as a resource and for their recreational value. And, fly fishing is a far better strategy to fish.
In spite of fly fishing’s increasing popularity, myths persist about the sport demanding the finesse of a quarterback as well as a trunk full of expensive equipment. Baloney.
The unique tools you are required to get started is a rod, reel, waders, and basic fishing gear. For help choosing the equipment suitable to your requirements and budget, consult a store specialising in the sport. Our photos above give cost ranges for great quality things a beginner might purchase and use with fulfilment for a long time. For devotees who need sophisticated equipment, top end costs run significantly higher.
Rods. Despite the numerous choices in spans (7 to 10 feet), line weights (3 to 8), and materials (bamboo, boron, fibreglass, graphite), the sort of pole detailed in our picture above left is an excellent all around choice. Graphite is usually springier and lighter than fibreglass, which helps lengthen your cast, but poles of any substance from different producers will cast otherwise. To get a precise feel for a pole’s actions, possess the store fit it using a reel and line to throw it.
Reels. A first single action reel with flexible drag is satisfactory. Size changes to suit line length and kind, with additional space taken up by backing. All components should work efficiently. A reel with an extra spool lets you make use of an alternate form of fly line readily.
Waders. Getting into the water is a part of the pleasure as well as the threat of fishing. Waders worn with different shoes are lighter and much comfier than waders with integrated boots. Neoprene will keep you warmest, but it is the priciest. A belt is crucial: water entering waders can drag you down in a swift current.
Learning to cast. Search for courses in local fly shops. Classes change from several hours at the shop to on the water teaching. Prices range from $10 to $15 an hour, and gear supplied. Stores recorded under Fishing Tackle or Sporting Goods in the yellow pages.
Inquire about local clubs that offer everyday cast and fishing help. Other resources contain adult education programs, city parks, and community colleges. See page 58 for a listing of individual schools.
Reference books for the beginner
More publications have been written about fish and fly fishing than nearly every other sport; the first A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle was composed in the 15th century by Dame Juliana Berners, a nun. More present, and helpful, are excerpts from Ernest Schwiebert’s absolute two-volume classic, Trout (E.P. Dutton, New York, 1984; $125): three paperback books ($10.95 and $12.95) excerpting sections on fishing gear and strategy are already released; more are intended. Other good references include:
The Compleat Angler’s Catalogue, by Scott Roederer (Johnson Books, Boulder, Colo., 1985; $14.95), is a paperback compendium of gear with more than you need to understand on assessing fishing gear.
The Eddie Bauer Guide to Fly Fishing, by Cam Sigler and Don Berry (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1985; $8.95 paperback book, $16.95 hardback), supplies an all round introduction to the sport.
Western trout within their typical summer colours
Western waters include both native and introduced trout. Pictured here are representatives of six native and two introduced species. They revealed in typical summer shades of trout that inhabit mountain streams; in other seasons and areas and under changing water conditions, each fish might have radically different colouring. The size of each discussed in the accompanying descriptions.
Native trout are indigenous to the place where seen. Wild trout are only fish that are born in a stream or lake in place of in a hatchery; they might be native or introduced.
Technically, the trout family (Salmonidae) contains trout, char, Pacific salmon, grayling, and whitefish. The fish most anglers usually call trout belong to either the trout (Salmo) or char (Salvelinus) group.
The species revealed represent one or more trout varieties, every one of which seen in distinct regions. There are at least 14 varies cutthroat; rainbow varieties contain steelhead, redband, and Kamloops trout. And while this display represents the present consensus among most biologists, including top power Dr Robert Behnke of Colorado State University categorizations do shift (find bull trout).
The six natives exemplified bull, cutthroat, Gila, gold, lake, and rainbow and their relatives are of increasing concern to biologists that are working to keep genetically pure populations inside their native habitats, but all of these game fish are an essential section of the West’s wild trout tradition.
Some purists maintain cutthroats (Salmo Clarke) are simpler to get than most trout and do not fight quite as well as rainbows or browns, but they’re still great sports fish. They may be the West’s most great and diverse native trout.
Named for their bright reddish line along the lower jaw, cutthroat distributed throughout much of the West after the last ice age. Over time, disjunct populations evolved into subspecies that comprise the Colorado, Lahontan, and Yellowstone cutthroats. Interbreeding threatens many populations with introduced trout, as well as the greatest challenge facing biologists is keeping staying remote communities genetically pure.
Though rarely more than 5 pounds (Lahontans can surpass 20 lbs), inland cutthroats are usually larger, with bigger, rounder spots, than coastal varieties.
According to a specialist, you do not fish for brown trout (Salmo trutta), you hunt them. Automatically cautious, browns usually favour calm water particularly dark pools and brushy, undercut banks where they could be downright finicky feeders. Nevertheless, they may be somewhat more adaptable than other species to changing water conditions.
Extensively carried throughout the West, this hard fighting European import has taken to Western waters in a big way. The very first brown trout eggs came to the U.S. from Germany in 1883, and the first fry was put in Western waters ten years after. The number of brown trout most often captured in the West is usually called German brown but is a hybrid of Scottish and German stock.
A fish weighing 5 pounds is an incredibly great catch, and one over 10 pounds is considered extraordinary in many waters, although Browns can get as large as sea run rainbows (steelhead).
Sequester in the headwaters of California’s Kern River by the same ice that carved Yosemite Valley 20,000 years past, the golden trout (Salmo aguabonita) has exceptional gold and reddish colouring. Dwelling mainly above 8,000 feet, this scrappy fighter seldom weighs in at even a pound; 1/4 pound (6 to 8 inches) is typical.
Even though the West’s first 300 miles of golden trout streams have dwindled to only 60 miles because of habitat destruction, predation, and interbreeding, plans to restore several streams have been great successes. Goldens carried in the 1930s still flourish in Montana, Washington, any Wyoming.
Native to the Gila River drainage in New Mexico, this 5 to 8-inch fish (Salmo gilae) was in danger of extinction due to hybridization. People continue to be too restricted to be fished, but biologists are transplanting fry in remote streams to ensure survival.
The equally rare Apache trout, Salmo apache (not shown) is similar in appearances (it’s bigger areas) and size. About restricted in range to several streams in Arizona’s the White Mountains.
Additionally called mackinaw, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) are native to Montana Lakes, New England, and Canada but have put in deep, clear lakes through the entire West. Captured at depths of 50 to 100 feet, lake trout get huge: 10 pounders are pretty standard; fish more than 30 pounds are prizes.
Rainbows (Salmo gairdneri) are without a doubt the West’s highest native game fish. Desperate fighting and great leaping when hooked, they rank with brown trout for sheer sport. Rainbows happen from Alaska to the mountains of northern Mexico. They’re astonishingly adaptable and changed; in California alone, biologists have acknowledged half a dozen subspecies. In certain waters, some varieties don’t show the species’ feature pink to a purple, lateral band.
Rainbows are mostly a quick water fish, flourishing in pockets in riffles and stony runs of big, cold rivers. Trout of 1 to 2 pounds are thought to be great catches, and 5-pound fish are real prizes; except in Alaska and some other areas in the West, ten pounders are uncommon. Migrating ocean jog rainbows, called steelhead, range up to 30 pounds.
A favourite hatchery fish, rainbows especially varieties from California’s Sonoma Creek as well as the McCloud River system are extensively carried.
Transfer around, Dolly. Taxonomists have determined the native we understand as Dolly Varden ought to be called bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in waters from northern California to Washington and in Idaho, Montana, Utah and Nevada.
The authentic Dolly Varden, Salvelinus malma (not revealed), appears almost indistinguishable but is restricted to coastal waters from Puget Sound to Alaska. Both Dollies and bulls might be mistaken for brook trout due to their bright coloured body spots, but neither has the brookie’s dark markings on fins. Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), seen in Alaska, are also much like Dollies.
Inland bull trout are like rainbows in size; sea-run fish can get as large as steelhead.
Dubbed “squaretail’ in its native waters in northeastern North America, the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is right at home in the West’s chilly high mountain streams and lakes.
The typical brookie is modest: a 9 inches is an excellent fish in California; 12 inches are great catches in larger streams in the Rockies, however, fish almost twice that size are sometimes taken.
The typically small size in California is due in part to the stocking of a particular breed in the San Bernardino Mountains in the 1870s and its subsequent planting throughout the Sierra and other Western waters. These brook trout grow rapidly and reproduce prolifically in both lakes and streams at a convenient pan size of 8 inches.
Youthful angler gets a hand in the eastern Sierra’s Hot Creek, one of California’s 24 designated wild trout streams. The Internet helps them unhook and release her fish unharmed. The rules on this particular stream: zero limitation (catch and release); use only artificial flies using one barbless hook. Other streams have distinct rules