The finest fish that swims?

Edi­tor Rus­sell Hill on why we should re­vere our na­tive brown trout...

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents - BE IN­SPIRED BROWN TROUT

The edi­tor makes the case for why we should re­vere our na­tive brown trout...

PEER­ING over the bushes into the shim­mer­ing pool, dark shapes slowly jos­tled for the prime spots so that they’d be the f irst to re­ceive food brought down by the f low. Smaller, juvenile brown­ies sum­moned enough courage to chal­lenge the ‘big fella’ at the front only to be un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously bul­lied away so that they knew their po­si­tion in the hi­er­ar­chy. I was re­minded of how a brow n trout’s life is a lit­tle like our ow n. Ter­ri­to­rial, ag­gres­sive when nec­es­sar y and – not to put too f ine a point on it – look­ing af­ter num­ber one! Watch­ing those fish was one of the most rela xing ex­pe­ri­ences. I was tak­ing a break from weed­cut­ting on the River Gwash, which was dammed to cre­ate Rut­land Wa­ter back in the mid 1970s. The con­se­quent build-up of silt meant that the angling club had to em­ploy some­one to cre­ate wil­low groy nes to scour out the silt to ex­pose gravel, cre­at­ing ideal spawn­ing habi­tat for the wild browns that live here. Although a shadow of its for­mer self due to the Rut­land damming project, it’s still a beau­ti­ful stream with some im­pres­sive spec­i­mens and it is a sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment at least. A fter work­ing for a few hours, I was al­lowed to f ly-f ish for an hour as a lunch break. Well, you know how fish­ing is…that lunch hour be­came longer and longer! I was re­ally at­tracted to the wild browns. Their mark­ings eas­ily out­shone a rain­bow trout and, af­ter catch­ing a ‘spot­tie’ I’d spend rather too long ad­mir­ing it be­fore gen­tly slip­ping it back. Need­less to say, I’ve been singing their praises ever since and still arg ue that brown trout are the f in­est look­ing f ish in the world. But­ter-gold bel­lies and a mix of red, brown and black spots set them apart. Sure, there are some larger im­pres­sive look­ing f ish out there, but none has the fi­nesse and beauty of a brown trout, in my opin­ion at least. A nd it’s true that, in our mixed f ish­eries of rain­bows, blues, gold­ens, tigers and brooks – no an­gler is dis­ap­pointed to hook a brown. Okay, they might not have the f ight­ing qual­i­ties of a rain­bow or blue, but an­glers can’t wait to ad­mire them and most fish­ers will re­turn them to live an­other day. It’s hard to kill a thing of beaut y! Stocked or wild…it doesn’t mat­ter. Just look at some of the browns reg­u­larly in­tro­duced into Dever Springs!

“I’ve been singing their praises ever since and still ar­gue that brown trout are the world’s finest fish.”

Im­pres­sive mark­ings and size. They cost more to cul­ti­vate be­cause they’re slower grow­ing but the end re­sult is an an­gler’s par­adise and one of the most fulf illing mo­ments we can en­joy. Wild fish are much smaller gen­er­ally but set apart by their per­fect, un­blem­ished bod­ies and sharp fully-formed f ins. There is a closed sea­son for wild brown trout, the sea­son mostly start­ing around March 31 then end­ing around Oc­to­ber 31, although there is some re­gional vari­a­tion. That closed sea­son used to ap­ply to en­closed com­mer­cial still­wa­ters with no wa­ter con­nect­ing to rivers or other wa­ter cour­ses. That law was lifted a few years ago so we can now fish for farmed browns in still­wa­ters all year round. They do tend to sulk in mid-sum­mer due to the heat but they show well in spring and au­tumn. The list of facts be­low was gleaned from the Wild Trout Trust’s web­site w w w. where you can find more in­for­ma­tion about this amaz­ing fish.

Words: Rus­sell Hill Main pic­ture: Paul Proc­ter

An ex­am­ple of the im­pres­sive mark­ings found only on browns. This in­cred­i­ble 13lb brown was caught at Rut­land’s Stocky Bay, on open­ing day.

A fish so beau­ti­ful they war­rant stat­ues.

A spotty bar of gold. What’s not to like? Goldand­sil­ver, but­both­brown! Wild­brown­s­tend­tobesmall­er­but­per­fectly formed.

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