I would like to try and target Browns in a local lake, and would like some suggestions on Fly Patterns. These are not Lake Run...they are resident in the lake. This lake is DEEP...like 300ft in some places, with a rocky/gravel bottom (where it can be seen) very cold water and not much aquatic vegetation. I have been trying streamers and other wets, fished on a sinking line.
I know there are some big ones in there, since the state record came out of there many years ago, at 22 lbs and the record still stands. I am sure that was trolled with gear though. The lake is does not get much fishing pressure, but I have not been able to connect with a Brown yet.
If you are fishing streamers as you describe here and have not yet caught a brown trout then I have a couple suggestions. First off, have you caught anything at all? if you are fishing in a lake that has trout but are not catching any then you are not where the fish are. They will be moving in several ways; the thermo cline (stratification based on weight & temp) will determine where they will be in order to find the best oxygenated water and for optimal body temp regulation also. They will no doubt have to come to where the food is available at some point. When there is a prevailing wind, say south to north, this will drive a regular 'food boom' toward the north shore. At such times the north shore would in fact offer the best bet for finding the fish while they are perusing the feed.
Other than the food that is gathered on the surface and near surface layer of the lake the fish should be hunting for smaller fish to eat. When dealing with a really deep environment it is often hard to locate your fish. How large is this lake? Are there tributary streams and an outflow stream?
Have you been able to find any good structure/submerged cliffs/ or other ambush spots? I tend to think of browns as the most 'bass-like' of trout. They like to hide in a dark/shady spot that offers an easy ambush. Otherwise I know that they are more nocturnal than rainbows, so maybe night fishing would work if it is possible. At one Colorado tailwater, if you fish the dam outflow at day you get mostly rainbows. Fish the same hole at midnight and almost every fish is a brown. For flies, maybe consider some of the articulated Galloup flies (dungeons, circus peanut, etc.). A 15" brown will eat a 5" streamer no problem. If you want the big pigs, maybe a musky pattern or something larger?
We have a large local reservoir that is ~250', It is tough to find the browns in there, but I have found them along submerged cliff lines and rocky coves.
Good luck, post up a photo of that hog when you get it!
I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I do spend a lot of time fishing for lake browns. In general I agree with a previous poster; browns are very bass-like in their feeding behavior. But I'll try to throw out some general hopefully helpful tips.
It's hard to be specific with advice without knowing what prey items are in the lake, among other factors. However, if you can find out if there are crawfish in the lake, that's almost all you need to know.
If 'dads are present, then browns will eat them. And spring is a good time to fish any pattern that resembles a crawfish. I believe browns focus on 'dads in early spring because that's nearly all there is to eat at this time of year. there aren't any bugs yet, and baitfish are probably pretty hard to catch for sluggish browns. Crawfish on the other hand are easy prey and pack a lot of calories for a hungry fish. In my own experience, I've witnessed big browns in a 7-10 foot deep cove cruising the bottom sucking up baby 'dads about one and a half inches long.
The color for early spring is a brown with green fleck, such as a brown crystal wooly bugger. 'Dads in early spring come out of hibernation close to this color pattern, and darken as the year progresses.
Browns also like their prey to move. Of course this is not always true, but it's true so often that I always start by inducing some movement in my flies when fishing for browns. So don't be afraid to strip your flies once they get down to your target depth.
Without knowing anything about your lake, I'd suggest trying to fish between 12-25 feet at this time of year, assuming that there are crawfish present. This means finding structure in your lake at these depths. Crawfish love gravel or rocky bottoms, especially at the base of steep cliffs or anything that drops quickly into the lake. If your lake has a dam, fishing along it should be productive.
If crawfish are not present, you need to find out what prey items are in your lake, besides baitfish. There has to be some prolific food item the fish can eat without expending large amounts of energy, such as snails, freshwater shrimp, etc.
Once you get a few fish to hit, you can start patterning the lake and figure out how to get into the pig fish.
Here's one of the 27 browns I caught last spring using a modified brown crystal bugger:
"Three-fourths of the Earth's surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord intended us to spend triple the amount of time fishing as taking care of the lawn." ~Chuck Clark
Last edited by rangerrich99; 02-17-2013 at 07:07 PM.
what he said! can't believe I forgot to mention crawdads...
In terms of streamers vs. small flies, I personally think you'll have a better chance of landing a big fish on heavy tippet and a big xstrong #2 hook, than with 5x and a #18 fly (although my best brown was taken on exactly that)
For slower presentations on sinking line, you can trail a small chironomid, callibaetis, or other nymph behind a streamer or crayfish. Fun way to fish, because you'll get hits on both.
Look up Brain Chan, he is the man at stillwater tactics.
A photo to get you psyched for pig hunting.
I have never seen a crawdad in the lake, but that doesn't mean anything, since I have never really looked for them. The inlet comes in on a pretty steep section, and the lake drops off quickly along that edge.
I tied up some Olive Brown DDH Leeches this winter, which are quite similar to a bugger. I am familiar with Chan and Rowley, so I will do some more reading on their strategies.
You haven't mentioned how you are fishing this lake, are you fishing from shore or do you have a float tube or pontoon or some other type of boat? Also do you have access to a sonar unit (they can be invaluable at finding structure)? One technique I would use if you have access to a boat/float tube is to target the shoreline shallows when the light is very low (early mornings, early evenings), position yourself within casting distance to the shore, cast into the shore, strip the line back and move the boat a few feet and repeat until you start hitting fish. Also, does the lake have any areas in the summer with good weed growth? If so the bugs will be there in the weeds and you will find fish cruising the edges.