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Coldwater Fly Fishing Trout, Salmon, Steelhead, etc...

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Old 11-26-2013, 10:50 AM
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Default Re: Strains of Browns...Help!

Heacox, a NY State fisheries biologist had all the early records from Cold Spring and correspondences with the Scottish and German fish culturists responsible for our two now largely intertwined strains of original trout imports. I do recall that Yellowstone, Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York where the earliest stocking locations. S.trutta has a native range spreading from Iceland in the West to part of Atlantic watershed Asia in the East. Some giant strains attaining weights of 100 pounds were native to some Bavarian lakes and the Caspian Sea. They embody considerable color and distinct adaptive variations much like our similarly glacially isolated and land locked strains of rainbow/cutthroats as well as anadromus "Sea Trout" populations. There are Northern European and Scandinavian anglers who prize sea trout above their closely related Atlantic salmon cousins who often share the same river much as North Americans who favor steelhead relative to other Pacific salmonids. The only two species assigned to the Salmo (leaper) genus, salmon and sea trout bright from the salt look an awful lot alike save for the thinner, stiffer caudal peduncle of the further oceanic ranging salmon. It is for these two species that our fly fishing tackle and techniques was originally developed for and evolved to the passion we embrace today.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:59 AM
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Default Re: Strains of Browns...Help!

I should add that in addition to Heacox's seminal book, re-published by Lyon's Press I believe, other great sources of information about browns and other fish with adipose fins is the great Ernie Schwiebert's "Trout" and anything by Dr. Robert Behnke.

Most of my personal favorite rivers have both wild reproducing (not native nor stocked) browns and rainbows in residence. One, The Henry's Fork, only has rainbows. Silver Creek too, only had rainbows until a famous individual took it upon himself to pour a pail of brown trout fingerlings into this illustrious spring creek in the dark of night. Now 30% of the population is browns...up to 30+"...but only single digit % of the angler's catch. The Missouri was stocked with browns until the early 1950's when Montana decided to focus on more highly harvestable domestic rainbows. The only native rainbows in Montana are up in the Kootenai R. The Clark Fork is Columbia watershed too but upstream migration is blocked by falls. Regrettably, all other rainbow populations in Montana, like just about everywhere else East of their native range are "junk" genetic strains of selectively breed for hatchery domestic behavior as well as early sexual maturity and short lifespan feed-me-a-pellet trout. Wait a minuet! I caught a gorgeous 23" rainbow that tore me into my backing...that's "junk?" Well, I have too and I love them too but imagine the lost potential of native strain, non-migratory, late sexually maturing, long life span fish like originally resided in the McCloud and some other California rivers? There is a relatively pure strain of them in the upper Delaware River (introduced in the 1880's) and a pure strain in Argentine Patagonian rivers (imported in 1910). These fish have the potential to grow to well over the 23" size that is a specimen of note in most of our non-lake connected trout rivers.

Anyway, I should not be bemoaning the state of trout genetics so early in the day. Subconsciously, I wish I was rigging up my NRX#4 to cast an early season BWO on a good sized spring feed arroyo in southern Patagonia. It too has both rainbows and browns sipping on its weed bed current seams; far from their original home waters.
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Old 11-28-2013, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Strains of Browns...Help!

To sort of add to what sweetandsalt said, at this point in America, there's almost no chance that those browns are anything but a mix of who-knows-what original European strains. Now, they may express more phenotypical characteristics of one strain over another, and I'm not an expert on the European trouts, so I'll leave that determination to others.
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Old 11-28-2013, 11:30 AM
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Default Re: Strains of Browns...Help!

That is accurate. Even if a trout "looks" Loch Leven or German it is surely an admixture of the two strains...and who says either of them were "pure" strains upon arrival on our continent in the 1880's? We have, in more recent years, imported Seeforellen for experimental stocking in the Great Lakes with modest results (well, not modest if you hook a 50 lb. brown while steelhead fishing). Below is an image of a fine, dry fly caught brown from this past season that manifests the classic coloration of a Loch Leven but lives in a river where the next brown you hook may be resplendent in red spots. Both are just fine with me.

Missouri River brown trout from near Wolf Creek, Montana
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 11-29-2013, 11:34 PM
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Default Re: Strains of Browns...Help!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sweetandsalt View Post
There is a wonderful book, "The Complete Brown Trout", Cecil Heacox, full of fascinating history and biology about our now, but not always, beloved Salmo trutta. Bottom line is the first eyed eggs came to these shores in the mid 1800's from Loch Leven, Scotland. There is one repository of pure Loch Leven's extant and that is in a waterfall protected location in the southern portion of Yellowstone (do your own homework to find out where). These fish are characterized by not having any red spots and having larger and fewer black spots than their few years latter, Black Forest, von Behr cousins. The German fish have typically smaller and more plentifully black spots with red spots distributed along their flanks. All the browns we fish for in North America are mixtures of these two strains and can exhibit any and all combinations of color features. The degree of how buttery or bright they are I though more habitat driven but I have caught silvery fish and deeply colored ones in the same stream not far apart, so who knows. I know this, they are less prone to domestication than rainbows, live longer, grow bigger and are somehow more rewarding to fool on a dry fly. I love them.
Good info, learned something new today. I will need to pickup the book.
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