How to Catch Brook Trout

Brook Trout Info


Aggressive and Fun to Catch!


Brook trout are not really trout, but members of the char family. An easy way to determine “what you have” is to look at the underside of your fish. The beginning dorsal fins of ‘brookies’ are always  white.

Next comes a line of black.  the rest of the brookie’s fin is usually orange.

Brook Trout

This fish is the only trout that is native to the US.  We have to worry about the continuation of this species because of the brook trout’s:  need for “clear waters of high purity and a narrow pH range in lakes, rivers, and streams, being sensitive to poor oxygenation, pollution, and changes in pH caused by environmental effects such as acid rain.” 1

Smaller than either the brown or rainbow trout, the “brookie” lives comfortably in water too shallow for the other trout. They use the green vegetation as hiding areas.

Spawning season is from late summer to early autumn and at this time, they are their most colorful.  They prefer waters between 47 and 67 degrees.

Catching a “Brookie”

Like his cousins, the rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout, brookie’s prefer deep pools. This is where the termperature is most stable.

“Brookies” are aggressive and fairly easy to catch. If you catch a 14 inch ‘brookie’ — it’s a genuine trophy game fish — and it is about 5 years of age (they generally live ~6 years).

If you are hoping for a “lunker,” you might want to use live minnows. As the trout grows, he spends more time chasing small fish for a meal, and less eating insects.

Fly fishermen indicate that these are the most successful lures for catching trout:  spawn egg imitation patterns (ex: single egg patterns ro egg sucking leech), crustaceans (freshwater scud patterns).

Of the streamers, anglers are successful with leech , wooly bugger and bait fish imitation patterns.  These wet flies are faves with fly fishermen: Quil Gordan, Adams, Black Gnat, LeadwingCoachman, Butcher, Blue Zulu and McGinty.

Of the dry flies, these are favorites: Adams, Black Gnat, Black Midge, Cahill, and the Poly Quil Spinner.  Nymphs: Prince Nymph, Peeking Caddis, Sparkle Larva and Zug Bug.  Hook sizes should range from #10 to #20.


*This brook trout is shown by permission of Vantage Point — part of their Wild Wings Art Collection.


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Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 1:56 am  Comments (2)  

Part 2: How to Catch Cutthroat Trout

How To Catch Cutthroat Trout

020305L_Cutthroat Trou tProfile

This handsome boy is always hungry! ***

Depending on where you fish, it’s possible to get a crack at the sea trout that have moved back into fresh water.  Generally, it takes a few years for the fish to mature before they  return to spawn. The adult cutthroats feed and spawn from fall through  spring. They prefer water between 55 and 62 degrees.

These fish, even after years in salt water, have no problem finding their home waters.  They spawn in the months of April through June.

What Cutthroat Trout Eat

By July, the first of the young cutthroats are leaving the gravel nests of their birth.  Always hungry, cutthroats seem to bite everything: lures, flies and live bait!

This branch of the trout family eats lots of insects; fly fishing is a great way to enjoy successful angling.  In Alaska, these fish are the most common trout species in the state.

Younger cutthroats, spend their days in lakes, hiding in and around submerged logs and vegetation.  They rush from their hiding places to snag insects and small fish (they’ve been known to eat other fish, up to  1/4 th their size)!

By the time they reach 14″ in length, they give up this slow process to a meal and turn into predators of smaller fish.

Where Cutthroats Hide

Here are some of the most common ways to catch cutthroats:

  • Looking for trophy size?  In land-locked lakes, troll off of steep shorelines.*
  • Spinners & spoons are great for lakes with deep pools. Fish deeply here & along steep shorelines (with plenty of vegetation).
  • In small inlet streams, use wet or dry flies.
  • The combination of a muddler minnow** and underwater vegetation is a winner for the cutthroat angler.  Make sure your line sinks quickly.


Remember that cutthroats prefer the deeper pools of water; they don’t like extreme water temperature changes (deeper waters remain a more constant temperature).

When fishing deeply, remember that light only penetrates so far down. Use larger lures or bait — so the fish have an easy time finding them.

Please fish responsibly! These beautiful creatures are endangered in some areas.  Check their status in the waters where you plan to fish!

* According to the Alaska Dept of Fish & Game

** Muddler minnows are artificial flies that are very popular.

*** Used by permission of Vantage Point Concepts.  This image is part of the Wild Wings Artwork Collection.


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Part 1: Fishing for Cutthroat Trout

Facts About Cutthroat Trout


020305L_Cutthroat Trou tProfile

Note the Band of Bright Color from One Gill to the Other! *


The unusual name “cutthroat” comes from the splash of color along the throat.

Other than the bright orange-red color from gill-to-gill, this game fish comes in an amazingly broad range of colors — from yellow to green to gray. The coloration depends on the waters he lives in and his history.

Like the rainbow trout, this is a Pacific-area freshwater fish, related to the salmon family.

The Bad News About Cutthroats

Generally, this is a prized game fish in many parts of the US.  In others, especially Colorado and Yellowstone Park, the remaining subspecies of the cutthroats are either endangered or state fish departments are trying to get them added to the endangered list.

There are reasons for the dropping numbers of cutthroats. First, is the loss of habitat — pollution is taking its toll.  These fish were protected for thousands of years by living in isolated watersheds and river basins.

As man has moved into the further reaches of America, he has disturbed the balance that has protected cutthroats for so many years. When non-native fish have been introduced to a cutthroat trout area, they have often been more aggressive than the cutthroats.

Brown and brook trout tend to replace cutthroats in regions were they have been introduced. Because of their slow reproduction rate, cutthroats are very sensitive to over-harvesting.

Cutthroats freely breed with rainbows  to create a “cutbow.”  They also easily breed with Apache trout and Gila trout. Thus, there are fewer cutthroats each year.

Many of the cutthroats migrate to sea (Pacific Ocean) if they can and are then called sea trout. They can reach 20 lbs. However, most of these trout say in freshwater and stay in the 1-2 lb. range.


* This photo is used by permission of Vantage Point Concepts.  This image is part of the Wild Wings Artwork Collection.


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Following the Rainbow – How to Catch Rainbow Trout!

Rainbow trout are probably one of the most beautiful fish available to anglers.

Rainbow Trout Info

Rainbows are native to waters in the west coast. They are genetically more like the Pacific salmon than the brown trout.


020306L_Rainbow Trout Profile

Poetry in Motion! *


Because rainbow trout do not reproduce in local waters, they are grown in fisheries and restocked by state wildlife and fisheries departments.

In nature, they have a narrow band of red from cheek to tail.

Rainbows occur naturally in the Pacific Northwest and travel to-and-from the sea. In these areas, the fish is called a “steelhead” and is silvery in color.  Steelheads are a whole-other-game-fish and outside of our discussion today.

How to Catch Rainbow Trout

The thrill of catching a rainbow is partly due to the impressive display they put on when caught. They leap! They fly! They fight!

Look for rainbows in faster-moving waters (than the other trout-types).  They are also found in shoreline fishing, in rip-rap, deep holes and in underwater structures.

Generally, look for splashy water around boulders and rapids.

What Rainbow Trout Eat

Most successful anglers start with flies – wet and dry, and nymphs — with fly fishing tackle.  You can also try live bait — worms, salmon eggs & insects with fly fishing and spinning tackle.

Rainbows have also been known to fancy corn, marshmallows, cheese and bread!  Go figure!

In the artificial class, you can use light spinning tackle with spoons and spinners.

In early spring, rainbows are lethargic and usually are bottom feeders. During this season, make sure you are fishing on bottom too.

Rainbow Trout Recipes

They can be prepared by barbecuing, broiling, baking, frying or smoking.


* This image is used by permission of Vantage Point Concepts.


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More Tips for Live Worm Fishing


Now You See Why the Wiggle is So Important in Fishing!

Now You See Why the Wiggle is So Important in Fishing!


Live worm fishing is a tried-and-true way to catch fish.  Here are a few more tips to help you make the most of your worms in the water.

Do Fish Learn?

Fish do not learn as humans (their brains are tiny), but they recognize when something is not “right.”  Since the length of their lives depends on their recognition and movement away from danger, they are wary by nature.

Before a fish strikes at a morsel of food, he has already determined “Plan B.”  If the morsel isn’t an innocent, free meal, the fish already has a place to run and hide.

You see evidence of this when a fish drags your line into submerged tree branches, under rocks, etc.  Once the fish bites, he heads to Plan B and we (often) get to cut our line.

Fishing Upstream

The worm must look natural for a fish to bite. It’s best to cast your worm upstream and let it tumble along the bottom past a fish’s hole – naturally.

When a trout decides to eat your bait, he will start nibbling at the worm. After a few nibbles, he generally takes the worm to his hiding place, so he can finish off the worm in peace.

Otherwise, he risks losing his lunch to a larger fish.  At the point where he is moving away with the bait, you need to set the hook with a sharp tug of the rod.

Adding Weight

You can fish with worms using a casting, fly, spinning or cane pole. The size of the creek, river or lake will determine your tackle.

A fly rod or spinning gear will meet your needs in a small creek or streams.  Larger rivers or lakes would call for spinning or casting gear.

Casting gear requires adding weight to the line. Use the lightest weight possible. A fish will drop a worm that feels too heavy!

Hooks and Worms – Part 2

While fishing, using sizes 6, 8 and 10 will meet most needs. If you are using a night crawler (worm), you may want to use a worm ‘gang’  (2 or more hooks – a few inches apart – on a single leader).

Essentially, you are hooking the crawler with 2 hooks (leaving the tails to wiggle).  If you do “catch-and- release” fishing, do not use a worm gang.  This style causes too much damage. The fish often swallows both hooks, making for a messy removal.

Next Time: Rainbow Trout


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Tips for Live Worm Fishing – Part 1

Live worm fishing is a tried-and-true way to get a fish.  Here are a few tips to help you find worms and make the most of your worms in the water.

Fishing With Live Worms

Brook trout and largemouth bass are particularly fond of worms and tend to strike quickly.  However, as fish become more-experienced, they tend to pay attention to ‘what looks natural.’


020314L_Largemouth Bass Profile

Largemouth Bass Lookin' for Lunch*


Most experienced anglers have created their own way of attaching a worm to the hook. The most important idea is to make sure that both ends of the worm are free to wiggle.

It is important to replace a worm that looks worn out (chewed up or seriously torn) or appears dead. Fish are looking for wiggling worms.

Kinds of Worms

The  small pink garden-variety worm is best for small bodies of water where fish aren’t expected to reach a huge size. Larger fish prefer the dark red wiggler or night crawler.

Are You ‘Lookin’ for Worms (In All the Wrong Places)’

The three best places to find worms are: vacant lots, garden areas and along river beds. From personal experience, I can add — in compost piles.

Don’t waste your time looking for worms anywhere commercial fertilizer is used, such as golf courses. Worms can’t stand the chemicals.

One of the best ways to collect lots of worms quickly is to wait until after a rain storm. They come out of the ground and collect on sidewalks and driveways.

Folks wonder why worms do this and the short answer is: It’s a good time to look for a mate. Generally, above ground is too hot and dry for worms to spend much time there (although they prefer to mate above ground).

Thus, after a rain storm, the air is moist and cool. They can take advantage of the situation – to find a mate – by traveling faster above ground.

Collecting worms at night? Make sure your flashlight has a diffused beam (red or yellow cover). Bright, clear light sends worms back into the ground.

Hooks and Worms

I learned a neat trick recently. Do you use the treble hook? Cut off the 3rd hook and use the other two to hook your bait. That way, as your bait trails along, it is less likely to snag on weeds, etc.

Tomorrow: Part 2 (of 2)


* Used by permission of Vantage Point Concepts.  This image is part of the Wild Wings Artwork Collection.


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Fly Fishing Equipment

If you ever get a chance to go fly fishing, DO IT!  Without a doubt, it is the most elegant and graceful fishing around.

Spending Some Quality Time with Nature!



The good news is that it doesn’t require very much equipment to get started.

Basic Fly Fishing Equipment

  • A fly rod (5 or 6 weight), with appropriate line for the rod
  • reel
  • leader
  • extra tippet
  • flies
  • glasses or sunglasses – polarized will help you see fish in the water

Buying Equipment

The easiest way to get started may be to buy a beginner’s kit, but I’ve never been one to take the easy way. I find collecting my own equipment to be more satisfying.

The purpose of fly fishing is to use an artificial  lure with a fly rod and line.  It is best to go fly fishing with someone and use their equipment for the first time or two.  By having some experience, you will make better purchases.

Additional Equipment

Once you have the main equipment, there are a few other things that will make your fishing more pleasant.

  • A box to store flies
  • Nippers to cut line
  • Waders
  • Vest of fanny pack for gear
  • A landing net


It is critical to get equipment specifically make for fly fishing.  The line, specifically is heavier than used for casting reels.

Most of the action is in the wrist. As the angler flips his wrist, the line starts its move. When the arm action stops, the line is unfurled and creates a loop or an arc  before striking the water.

Fly fishing was created to catch trout and salmon. However, over the years, anglers have broadened their range of fish.  Some anglers spend their time trying to catch an ever-expanding number of fish species, using their fly fishing skills.


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When Do Trout Spawn?

Why Spawning Matters

Fish weigh more and are in better shape just prior to spawning. Fish can lose lots of weight during the spawning process, especially those that travel great distances to spawn.


The Best Part of Fishing!


According to fish authorities, eastern trout spawn in the fall and western trout breed during spring months.  Some fish species spawn spring and fall; one way nature provides for the continuation of the species.

Spawning Seasons for Trout*

Season                          Species

spring                              rainbow trout, cutthroat trout

summer                          mountain trout

late sum. to early       brook trout, bull trout                                                                           fall

fall                                     brown trout, lake trout


From Feeding to Spawning Grounds

Most trout feed in the deeper regions of rivers and lakes. However, during spawning they head upstream to areas of highly oxygenated waters (generally, VERY clear water) with gravel bottoms. These areas tend to be in streams and inlets.

During the time that eggs are being released, many fish avoid eating. However,  just prior to the beginning of the spawning season, males become more active and protective of females.

They tend to strike at things they ignore at other times: flashy lures, streamer flies, etc.  This isn’t the time to worry about what is hatching (generally, anglers use artificial lures of whatever insect is hatching at that time);  pull out the flashy/red/hot-orange lure!

Spawning Season

During the spawning season, fish become more difficult to see. From above, female backs are exactly the same shade as nest gravel. Even males are well-disguised from the top, although their sides remain colorful.

Females swish their tails to hollow out a spot in the gravel. While they are making their nests, males are gathering around.

Males often fight and it isn’t unusual to see males with chewed-off tails, missing eyes or body punctures! Some die of their wounds.

During spawning, the hens drop low in their nests and  eject eggs. Meanwhile, the male sprays milt (sperm).  The eggs that drop into the nest are fertilized.

The hen quickly swishes gravel over the eggs, to hide them from predators. This may be repeated several times, eggs stacking in layers with gravel.

With small trout, the spawning may only take a day or two; for larger trout, about 5 days is the norm.

Females produce about 400 eggs per pound of their weight (for example: an 8 ounce female would produce a total of about 200 eggs during spawning season).

After about 3 months, the tiny fish leave the nest and strike out on their own. Fortunately, during every spawning season enough new fish are born to continue the wonderful sport we know as fishing!


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Published in: on July 21, 2009 at 7:56 pm  Comments Off on When Do Trout Spawn?  
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River Tubing: Repairing a Recreational Inner Tube

A Short History of Recreational Inner Tubes

When I was a kid, back before dinosaurs strolled the earth, goin’ tubin’ meant finding an old, used inner tube.  Since cars, trucks and tractors still used inner tubes, finding one was easy!

Keeping an inner tube from summer-to-summer wasn’t so easy. I never seemed to remember that an inflated inner tube left in the hot sun deteriorated quickly.

I didn’t worry about cracks in my recreational tube, after all – inner tubes were cheap and they were everywhere!

Inner Tubes Today



1 Person Towable


Finding any large inner tube today for river tubing isn’t so easy.

Generally, most folks have started buying “towables” — clever float-ables that can move one or more people at the same time.

However, this post is about keeping and repairing a large inner tube.

Tips for ‘River Tubes’

  • Keep inner tubes covered and out of the sun,
  • Keep them away from moisture and deflated,
  • Keep a repair kit with you while tubing,
  • Keep a spare inner tube with you,
  • Learn how to repair your tube  “on-the-fly”
  • Carry a small roll of duct tape while river tubing

Duct Tape & Other Repairs

Yep, duct tape will make quick, temporary repairs. However, duct tape must be applied to a dry tube.

Learning to repair an inner tube was a ‘rite of passage’ when I was a kid.  Here’s the process of a “cold” patch repair:

  • Scuff up the area around the tear — with the lid of the repair kit.
  • Apply cement to the area to be patched (cement is included in kit).
  • Cut a piece of patching material and round the edges,
  • Peel off the backing of the patch piece,
  • Apply the patch piece with both hands,
  • Press into place,
  • Turn the repair can on its side and roll repeatedly over the patch.
  • Let things rest for a few minutes.

Other hints:

  • Roughing up the area around the tear is necessary for a firm seal.
  • Use the tip of the container to smooth the cement around the hole or tear.
  • For large tears, make sure you cut and round the edges of the patches.
  • If you don’t, the patch may peel off while brushing against rough stuff.
  • Instructions on the can will indicate how long the patch should “rest” before use.


I still remember how much a “cold patch kit” cost (when I was a kid) — 29 cents!


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Choosing the Right Water for River Tubing

This is part of a series on River Tubing:

  • The danger of snakes and river tubing
  • Things you need to take river tubing
  • Choosing the right water for river tubing

The Goal of River Tubing


The Joy of River Tubing!

The Joy of River Tubing!


The goal of river tubing, as practiced by most Americans,  is to hop on a tube and float down a meandering river, enjoying the scenery.

Unfortunately, some consider this too tame a pursuit — and search for whitewater adventures. River tubing and whitewater don’t mix well.

The Grim Story

Tubers watch groups of folks in canoes and kayaks having fun in rivers and think they can too.  There are a couple of problems with this idea.

First, the folks in canoes and kayaks work the river together. They watch out for each other and assist, as needed.

Tubers, in contrast, cannot usually come to another person’s assistance because they have absolutely no control over their tube!  If they have a paddle, it usually only causes the tube to spin around. Often the tube tips over.

The body of the watercraft protects the adventurers inside. You only have to see the mangled body of a tuber that has been separated from his tube or raft — to understand the difference.

When a river tubist is thrown from his tube, there is nothing between his body and the hard rocks that he’s likely to “meet” on the way down the rapids — or over a waterfall!  Finding a person alive after such a beating in whitewater is the exception, not the rule!

Protecting Yourself

Verne  Huser, author of River Running (Henry Regnery Co., Chicago, 1977), urges all tubers to use a personal flotation device in any waters.

“Many river drownings occur because someone in the water … catches a foot or leg in an underwater crack or beneath a … log or something that holds the person down while the river continues to play against the person. It may be impossible for the person to hold his head above water against the force of the water.”

Another protection can be a wet suit. Many rivers have deep pools or are fed by springs.  The water temperature can range between 45 and 50 degrees.

The body loses heat so rapidly that hypothermia takes over and a person can die.  Cold rivers call for a wet suit for each tuber!

Water           Loss of Ability to                    Loss of                       Expect to

Temp          Perform Useful Work          Consciousness__Survive___

50 degr. *under 15 mins.                   under 60 mins.           1-3 hours

40 degr.         under 7.5 mins.                   under 30 mins.           30-90 mins

32 degr.          under 5 mins.                       under 5 mins.             15-45 mins.

This graph was adapted from p. 13, Tubing, by Whit Perry (Greatlakes Living Press, Matteson, Il., 1977).


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