Cannibals and Carnivores
What are the perfect conditions for a huge brown trout? Some believe the hatches dictate the perfect conditions. I disagree with the hatch crowd. I target the trout that are eating the little trout feeding off of a hatch. The wide bodies are my targets. The carnivores of the trout world are my target. The cannibals are also on the menu. The big old browns that snack on little trout and snack on the not so little trout are my perfect challenge.
The older a trout gets, the more seasons change it has seen. The more predators it has had to out fox makes it smarter and hones its skills to survive. My quarries are the ten percenters. The big old weary brutes with scar tissue on the corners of their mouths are my dance partners. Maybe they even have a couple dry flies hanging from the corner of their mouths as decoration from the unprepared.
The first thing I do is research the waterway I want to fish. I don’t roll over any rocks to see the current hatches. Hatches are for little stupid trout. I guess if you like little fish and aren’t skilled enough to land a cannibal you can roll over some rocks. My streams have large food in them. Crayfish and minnows are ideal. Too many small minnows or chubs typically indicate a lack of carnivores in the area.
The ten percenters are solitary creatures. They will chase out little trout from their hides. They do not want company. They eat visitors that wander into their fortresses of solitude. Their environments are typically deep and dark with roots and log jams. They typically shun sunlight. Sunlight is danger in their way of thinking. Lots of them turn into only night time feeders because of it.
Darkness can be very dangerous to anglers. My bum right knee can be attributed to fishing in the dark. You need to even the playing field. Morning or just before dark are keys to catching monsters. Days with no clouds are days to stay home. Crystal clear shallow water is a sign of little guppies. Walk right on by that hole.
Every large trout I have ever caught has been on a cloudy low light day in deep to medium water with a little cloud to the water due to a recent rain. Contributing factors were thermals in the area to keep the big dog’s home at a tolerable temperature.
Those assassins of the trout world may be fooled by a random or lucky cast with a dry or a tiny spinner but more often than not they are slain on a large offering with the appropriate sized rod and reel to finish the dance.
If you fly fish leave those dries in your vest pocket. Get out the size eight olive and black woolly buggers and black bunny leeches. Take off that size six tippet and put on a whole new leader of size four at minimum. Shun the petting zoos or lunker structures. Get ready to lose some flies on logs and the trees of the gnarly tangled homes the carnivores live in. Kick off the training wheels and go hunting for the apex predators in your streams.
Spin anglers put away your ultra lights and get out the medium action rods with back bones. A size nine stick bait is not too big. A size nine panther martin can be the cat’s meow when hunting for cannibals. Many are switching to tubes and jigs for the large and in charge browns. You need to also size up your lines too. I recommend Power Pro. It is so sensitive you can even feel the blade of your spinner pause.
Most of this advice was for large browns. I did not touch on fishing for brook trout because they fall into another class of fish. It is called “Dumber Than A Box Of Rocks” trout. They can nearly be caught on a bare hook. These nit wits of the trout world are targeted by the unskilled and lazy. They are beautiful but are about as rewarding to catch as a chub. Rainbows in our streams are rejects from the hatchery and I emphasize rejects.