The finest fish that swims?
Editor Russell Hill on why we should revere our native 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. wildtrout.org 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.