We have a thread going in the Great Lakes Regional Forum here that regards there being two distinct strain of brown trout being evident in Wisconsin waters. As the thread developed more people began to post about their finding other browns that don't appear to be of either strain. So I put up this post so that the advice I was about to give on that thread might reach more members.
When it comes to identifying a trout rather than trying to dazzle you with what I know, I will refer you to where I learned it. For a good research based book on trout, find yourself a copy of 'The wildlife Series, Trout' edited by Judith Stolz & Judith Schnell. This is an edited work citing research that was current at the time of its publication 1991. You will find it at Amazon and other book sellers. Using materials like this book I have grown to have a great depth of understanding for many things I encounter in the field. On coloration of trout, beyond genetic propensities the chemical properties of certain watersheds sometimes influence the differences we witness in fish such as the brown, brook, and rainbow trout.
If you are a Brook Trout fan then check out the book of that title by Nick Karas. This one focuses on just this one species of Char and is a favorite of mine.
When it comes to learning about the chain of life and all of the components that make up an ecosystem there are few better catalysts available to the layman than fly fishing. Time on the water is a good way to learn through practice but when you build a good foundation of theory and research findings the two go hand in hand at making your time more enjoyable.
PS. I omitted mentioning my resource for information on Pacific Salmon & Trout. You may find 'The Behavior and Ecology of Pacific Salmon & Trout' by Thomas P. Quinn to be very useful if you live near or plan to fish the West Coast of North America.
A great resource I received as a gift for years of service to the National Museum of Wildlife Art is " Trout an illustrated history" by James Prosek. It contains over 70 full color illustrations of Rainbow, Cutthroat, Browns, Char and more.
In his book, Trout & Salmon of North America, Dr. Robert Behnke says it is not possible to distinguish the two originally stocked strains anymore. I'm no scientist, but he is among the most respected trout experts, so I'll believe it. milt.
The book I have is more of a compilation of research and genetic facts, behavior, and environmental requirements than one for illustration. It does contain pictures and in the case of endangered or extinct strains there are illustrations. I just put this out there because it was a learning tool for me and answered many of the questions I had about trout in general. For Brook Trout there is Nick Karass' book by the same name.
Thanks for the post - got me thinking about the library. I found that I have 2 books overdue! I owe them $1, I hate that, almost never happens.
I found the Karas Brook Trout book in their catalog - I am also going to check out Trout Fishing in the PNW by Lewis and probably reread a Gierach book or two depending on what they have.
"By the time I was a teenager I fit the standard profile of a lifelong angler. I was lazy, shiftless, unambitious and willing to work hard only at things that were widely considered useless." ~John Gierach
Nick Karas's book is an excellent one on Brook Trout. He used to write the outdoor column for NY s Newsday. The column has never been the same since he left. His book on Striped Bass is also an excellent read. Met him on the Nissequogue River nice man with a wealth of information.
"I was born to fish" Lee Wulff
"There's more B.S. in fly fishing then there is in a Kansas feedlot." Lefty Kreh
" It ain't over till it's over." Yogi Berra
"Your not old,you've simply acquired a patina." Swirlchaser