The brown trout is native to Europe and has been hunted for hundreds of years. Indeed, it is believed that the Romans actually fished for brown trout almost 2000 years ago. It is without doubt a beautiful fish that has a delicate taste. It will feed throughout the day and at night which is why it is so attractive to anglers, and once hooked the ‘brownie’ will also put up a terrific fight. All things considered it is easy to understand how a lot of people become avid trout fishermen to the detriment of all other species.
It is actually a close relative of the Atlantic Salmon but has been established across Europe and Russia for hundreds of years. It has been introduced, with great success, all around the world. It’s success is partly because it can tolerate some changes in water temperature although it prefers temperatures between 16 and 18oC. The brown trout is not a fussy eater. It alters its diet throughout its life to adapt to food availability and is not averse to eating salmon and other fry. Its main diet however is a variety of larvae, pupae, and nymphs which they take from either the river bed or the surface during a hatch. Brownies prefer a gravel stream and are popular in the gin clear chalk streams in the south of England. This is part of the charm of this fish, as you do have to ‘hunt’ it in these types of conditions.
As stated above not all brown trout live in streams or rivers; some are lake or loch dwellers. The size of brown trout will differ enormously according to the food available and conditions. The average weight, if there is such a thing for a stream brownie is around the 2lbs mark. Of course, there are huge brown trout out there and the current British record of 31lbs 12oz was caught from a loch and has stood for 17 years. Conversely there are many small lochs and ponds that have small brownies weighing under 1lbs that are great to catch with a small lightweight fly rod.
Brown trout like a bit of shade such as provided by an overhang or tree. During extremely hot summers they will look for deeper water. They tend to lie near fast running water which is well oxygenated. Drought conditions can kill brown trout even if there is water as if it is static and warm the oxygen will decrease to lethal low levels.
Brown trout have a close season which varies, not just throughout the UK but also in England. The six regions have different dates for when you can fish this trout so it is advised to consult your local authority before venturing out. It is also worth noting that everyone over the age of 13 years old must have a rod license even if fishing on private fisheries.
The brown trout (Salmo trutta) is a medium sized fresh water fish. There are 2 variants, one strain, Salmo Fario, dwells in rivers or streams and Salmo lacustris is a lake or loch fish. When and where, over the past millennia, this separation occurred is unknown but today both species are simply called ‘brown trout’. There are reports of brown trout living up to 20 years old. This however, is the exception not the rule as most brown trout, both males and females, die after spawning.