TF’s panel of experts answer your questions
QI have just started boat fishing on Chew and Blagdon lakes using a floating line with Buzzers. Although I have had reasonable success catching a few rainbows I would like to hook a big brown trout. Could you suggest a good method, fly and line I should try? Michael Bloomfield STEVE CULLEN REPLIES: There are those who specialise in catching these elusive fish, but, given the time that needs putting in, they are few and far between. Unlike the rainbows that you’re catching browns are often on their own, so you’re often fishing for a single fish, hard to do in a very large body of water. They are catchable though, but you must change tack completely if you want to have any kind of success. Don’t get me wrong, a floating line and Buzzers has accounted for an awful lot of big brown trout, but this is definitely more luck than it is judgement. Browns are elusive creatures and they are lazy, unlike rainbows which are constantly on the lookout for anything that they can get their mouths around and tend to be constantly charged up and ready to go. We need to look at three areas in order to have any kid of success with big brown trout and they are pattern selection, fishing depth and location.
When it comes to flies, go big or go home! As mentioned, you will occasionally catch big brown trout with conventional flies and techniques but it’s usually down to luck. For me, it would be big black flies, and I’m talking three inches minimum. I love the Humungus tied with big dumbbell eyes and the reason for the big eyes is simple. Big browns will often follow flies right to the boat. When you stop the retrieve with normal flies the fly sits there, and the trout ghosts away. But with large dumbbell eyes, the fly plummets back down in the water and the browns will often nail it when it has this dramatic change in direction. It’s a very good technique, often called the ‘hang and drop’, but you must wear polarised sunglasses so that you can see what’s going on.
Early in the year, I tend to fish deeper when after brownies as they are often not far from the bottom. The reason is that this is where their food is. They will predate on coarse fish and often mooch about for easy pickings off the bottom. Like I said, they are lazy. So, look to fish fast sink lines right up until August, then switch your attention to floating lines in and around the weedbeds, again with Humungus or even better a Floating Fry pattern, they love those!
Location is crucial. Brownies love structure, anything that gives them somewhere to hide and/or attack from. So look to fish your flies in and around structure, boat jetties, sailing boat moorings, tree stumps, old riverbeds and the dam wall – you get the picture! But as mentioned above, for me the cream of brown trout fishing (and by far the most consistent time to catch them) happens from August to the end of the season when I’d be totally focused on weedbeds. Bear in mind that most brownies are sexed fish as opposed to the sexless rainbows, so they are looking to pack on weight pre-spawning. They are also aggressive and will fend off anything that annoys them, hence the big flies. Fish the outside edge of the weedbeds with the Humungus. Big brownies will patrol here as the smaller coarse fish often meander out into open water and brownies like to ambush them from below. Also pay attention to gaps in the weed. Small pockets of open water are perfect for tossing in a Floating Fry and the splash as it hits the water often gains a pretty fast response from any nearby brownies. To catch brownies consistently is very difficult and at times a very slow process, but using bigger flies in and around structure, manmade or natural, will certainly increase your chances.
Big flies are recommended when targeting specimen brown trout.
Dumbbell eyes add weight to a Humungus pattern.