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Wild trout: a Western success story.

Wild trout: a Western success story

To the delight of anglers and the surprise of biologists, wild trout are making a remarkable comeback in much of the West.

This good news comes after years of bad news for one of the West's great wildlife resources. By the mid-1960s, trout habitat was disappearing: dams had dried some streams, others were unlivable. Many waters were overfished. A generation of anglers was growing up catching only hatcher-raised trout.

Today though, even as salmon and other seagoing fish continue dangerous declines, a small but increasing number of inland lakes and streams surge with growing populations of trout. Fishing for trout--wild trout--is better now than it has been in 20 years.

The turnaround started with a change in attitude. Anglers were concerned that wild strains of trout (see next page) were disappearing. They also realized that antiquated regulations were not protecting trout as fishing pressures increased. Working with state biologists, small groups of anglers helped develop management programs that protected remaining wild trout populations.

"We aren't talking about hatchery fish,' emphasizes California fisheries biologist John Deinstadt. "In fact, we've determined that hatchery stocking, along with poor land management and overfishing, has been part of the problem. But the biggest surprise is how dramatically wild trout--fish that are born and live in a stream--have responded to minimal improvements in habitat. We're rediscovering that the best way to improve fhsing is to protect trout environment.'

Today eight states have developed wild trout programs: putting an end to stocking on designated waters and setting restrictions on tackle and limits, including catch-and-release. The aim is in part to protect trout habitat and preserve endangered varieties, but primarily to improve fishing on some of the West's most productive streams.

And yet, as trout season opens this spring, the future of this valuable recreational resource is far from certain. Even as the number of wild trout waters expands, the quality of Western lakes and streams continues to decline.

On the following pages, we'll show you what's at stake and give you a state-by-state update. We'll describe some of the world's finest angling and detail what you'll need to get started.

Not just "factory' fish

Why are wild trout so important? "Primarily for their genetic diversity,' explains Deinstadt. "Preserving pure strains of trout with differing traits--especially in their native habitats--is essential if we are to have vigorous fisheries in the future. Wild trout are money in the bank.'

Trout are also a great barometer of environmental quality. To provide food, shelter, and spawning areas for a trout population requires relatively undisturbed habitat. Logging, mining, dam building, and agriculture take a severe toll; fewer and fewer streams are capable of supporting wild trout in abundance.

Hatchery-raised trout (which often have clipped or frayed fins) are neither as finicky nor as hardy; they are bred mostly for their ability to grow fast on a diet of fish kibble in crowded cement tanks. Recent studies show that when catchables (8-plus inches) are stocked in a stream, 80 percent are either caught or die by the end of the season. Growls one purist, "Those factory fish are so stupid they wouldn't know a bug if it bit them.'

In the early '60s, stocking streams seemed the answer to growing fishing pressure and deteriorating habitats. But as public concern about declining water quality grew, so did angler concern about the effects of stocking. Not only were genetically pure wild trout interbreeding with stocked trout, but fishermen were becoming hatchery truck groupies.

A tale of two studies

The idea of wild trout management appeared in the '60s, but it took a handful of concerned anglers to prove it could work.

In 1968, a group of fishermen from San Francisco persuaded state biologists to let them test ideas for revitalizing the wild trout population in a once-classic northern California stream called Hat Creek.

Their proposal was simple: to poison resident fish, clean up the stream and restock it once with wild trout fingerlings, and then make the daily limit 2 fish instead of 10. Results were phenomenal. The number and size (minimum keeper today is 18 inches) of trout increased dramatically even as the number of anglers went from about 2,000 in 1968 to 10,000 in 1973. Today Hat Creek is one of the most popular streams in the state, and the group continues as California Trout.

About the same time, Montana biologist Richard Vincent was studying the effects of planting hatchery fish among wild trout in the Madison River. His finding: hatchery trout displace wild fish from feeding and cover stations, causing wild trout numbers to fall substantially.

Catch . . . then release

One of the most compelling arguments for maintaining wild trout populations is cost. States flush hundreds of dollars out the back of a truck each time they stock a stream. Prompted by budget-cutting as well as environmental concerns, five states had wild trout programs by 1975.

Better than a decade of experimentation has led to the current regulations that govern--and help preserve--wild trout fishing. On many rivers, for instance, anglers are restricted to artificial flies or lures with single, barbless hooks.

Using such tackle and handling trout gently while keeping them in water as much as possible, fishermen can release fish with little more than a sore mouth. (A 1981 study on the Yellowstone River determined trout were caught and released an average of 9.7 times during one six-week season.) And you can still take fish. Limits on many streams are often one or two fish above a size that ensures the trout have had ample chance to spawn.

But catch-and-release (no kill) regulations receive the most publicity because they require anglers to define why they fish: for food or for fun.

A state-by-state look at wild trout

All states require anglers to have fishing licenses (short-term or annual). Be sure to study regulations: restrictions on tackle, fish size, limits, and season can be complex and may vary on a single stream.

Each listing includes the address of the state agency you can write to for regulations. Other resources are also given.

ALASKA. Even in this vast state, concern over fishing pressure has prompted the development of a wild trout program that should be in final form this November. Focusing on the state's prized rainbows, the program calls for designating entire watersheds in the Anchorage and Bristol Bay regions as wild trout waters.

Write to Sportfishing Division, 333 Raspberry Rd., Anchorage 99518. A list of outfitters is included in the Alaska Vacation Planner, free from the Division of Tourism, Box E, Juneau 99811.

ARIZONA. Wild trout are not currently a priority, but they may get more attention as this state moves away from its historic "put-and-take' fishery. Becker and Chevelon lakes and 15 miles of the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lees Ferry are stocked with fingerlings and have regulations that promote big rainbows.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department, 2222 W. Greenway Rd., Phoenix 85023, publishes Arizona Fishin' Holes, a general guide to the state's waters ($2). Outdoors in Arizona (Arizona Highways, Phoenix, 1986; $12.95) offers a good overview and is beautifully illustrated.

CALIFORNIA. The first state to designate wild trout waters, California now has 24 wild trout streams and 6 wild trout lakes. And by law, 25 miles of stream and a lake must be added each year.

Most wild trout waters are within a 5-hour drive of Los Angeles or San Francisco, or both. This makes them some of the most heavily fished waters in the West. On Hot Creek, near Mammoth, biologists estimate trout are caught an average of three to five times a season. The Truckee River near Lake Tahoe is another accessible and popular stream.

Other wild trout waters are lightly fished because they involve some serious hiking: the Middle Fork of the Feather near Quincy, the South Fork of the Merced near Wawona and Deep Creek near San Bernardino. Several are lightly fished because of limited access; for instance, on land held by The Nature Conservancy near McCloud, the number of anglers on the McCloud River is controlled. The fast-moving East Walker River near Bridgeport and the Ownes River near Bishop are just plain difficult to fish.

The Department of Fish and Game, Con Ed Branch, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento 95814, has general guide maps. California Trout Fishing, by Jim Freeman (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 1983; $7.95), is dated but a classic; Sierra Trout Guide, by Ralph Cutter (Frank Amato Publications, Portland, 1984; $7.95), can help get you into back-country fishing. California Trout, Room 859, 870 Market St., San Francisco 94102, is the state's leading wild trout advocacy group; its newsletter (free with $20 annual membership) is the best way to keep up with wild trout issues.

COLORADO. Public support has been key in expanding designated waters from just 10 miles in 1979 to more than 250 today.

Some of the best wild trout action is on sections of the Colorado and Blue rivers near Kremmling, the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan near Aspen, the South Platte at Deckers, the Arkansas near Salida, the Gunnison in and below Black Canyon, and the Rio Grande near Del Norte. These are segments of big rivers between 6,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation; smaller, higher streams offer good sport but smaller fish.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife, 6060 Broadway, Denver 80216, publishes a fishing map of the state for $1. The Colorado Angling Guide, by Chuck Fothergill and Bob Sterling (Stream Stalker Publishing, Aspen, Colo., 1985; $13.95), is worth every cent for the detailed maps.

IDAHO. A wild trout policy was adopted here in 1975. Today some 1,200 miles of 21 wild trout streams are designated as having particularly good fishing and scenery. Five of these streams--Billingsley Creek, Blackfoot River, Henry's Fork (see map page 111), Little Wood River, and Silver Creek--have regulations that help ensure trophy-size wild trout will develop.

Part of Silver Creek runs through land owned by The Nature Conservancy, which is working with neighboring ranchers to improve farming and ranching practices to protect the stream from sedimentation.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Box 25, Boise 83707, plans to have a new fishing guide (about $1) ready by June. The Idaho Travel Council, Statehouse, Boise 83720, has a free vacation planner with regional guide and fishing information.

MONTANA. Native cutthroats in many streams have been replaced by rainbows, browns, and other introduced trout species, which have become the foundation of the state's wild trout program. Today purestrain Snake River and Yellowstone cutthroats are found in less than 8 percent of their native waters.

In 1974, Montana stopped planting trout in all streams capable of supporting wild trout (the few remaining streams and most lakes are still stocked). The payoff: by 1980, the population of wild rainbows had increased 400 percent; wild browns had doubled.

As in most states, habitat degradation and water diversions are still big threats. However, a 1975 law helps protect riverbanks and riverbeds from impact by private landowners; two other acts guarantee minimum flows below water projects on several streams.

The state's best wild trout fishing occurs in the southwest--see map above. Ask for a list of outfitters, state parks, and fishing access sites from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, Helena 59620; a vacation kit is free from Travel Montana, Department of Commerce, Helena 59620. The Montanans' Fishing Guide, by Dick Konizeski (Mountain Press, Missoula, 1982; $9.95), is a comprehensive two-volume set.

NEVADA. During the next few years, some 200 streams and lakes will be evaluated for inclusion in a proposed wild trout program. At present, the Truckee River near the California border and Walker Lake are managed for big trout, but both are stocked. Write to Nevada Department of Wildlife, Box 10678, Reno 89520.

The Pyramid Lake Indian Tribe is maintaining wild Lahontan cutthroat populations (average keepers run 5 pounds) by raising fry from spawning lake fish in hatcheries. Tribal fishing permits ($6 a day) are required; write to Pyramid Lake Fisheries, Star Route, Sutcliffe 89510.

NEW MEXICO. There's no wild trout program, but biologists are restoring several streams with wild populations of native Gila trout.

On a 3 1/2-mile stretch of the San Juan River below Navajo Reservoir near Farmington, regulations allow year-round fishing for the water's big fish. Stocked fingerlings supplement natural reproduction because of the pressure: 100,000 angler days in 1984.

The Department of Game and Fish, Villagra Building, State Capitol, Santa Fe 87503, has a free guide to state waters.

OREGON. Originally intended for trout, the wild fish program was adopted for all species in 1978. Today 95 percent of Oregon's 28,000 miles of streams are wild.

You'll find particularly big fish in the hundred miles of the lower Deschutes River below Madras, on the Williamson, Sprague, and Klamath rivers, and in Upper Klamath Lake, near Klamath Falls.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Box 59, Portland 97207, has no guide, but Fishing in Oregon (Flying Pencil Publications, Portland, 1984; $10.95), is very thorough. A $20 membership in Oregon Trout, Box 19540, Portland 97219, includes a newsletter.

UTAH. Wild trout have a small but established program here, with good angling along some 64 miles of specially designated rivers. The Provo River below Deer Creek Dam, the Strawberry below Soldier Creek Dam, and the Blacksmith Fork and the Logan near Logan are prime fisheries. Also, 23 streams have regulations designed to preserve pure strains of Bonneville cutthroats; 4 have been restored to broaden the trout's range.

A guidebook is free from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1596 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City 84116.

WASHINGTON. A wild trout program was adopted here last August, but pending legislation could weaken it.

New regulations reducing limits and restricting use of bait govern about 80 heavily fished streams (less than 2 percent of the state's waters). Look for restored trout populations in two to four years. The Yakima River above Ellensburg and the Elwha near Port Angeles are good bets this summer; look for improvements in the summer of 1987 on the Methow near Twisp and the North Fork of the Snoqualmie near Snoqualmie.

The Washington Department of Game is at 600 N. Capitol Way, Olympia 98504. The Washington State Fishing Guide, by Stan Jones (Stan Jones Publishing, Seattle, 1984; $6.95), is comprehensive.

WYOMING. In 1975, more than half the state's streams and 10 percent of its lakes were designated wild trout waters. A few of these fisheries are also managed to produce big trout; others have regulations that protect native species.

The 24 miles of the Snake River below Jackson Lake are designated wild trout water and are also managed to protect pure strains of the Snake River cutthroat. This season, a new slot limit for this stretch requires release of all fish between 11 and 15 inches (spawning size).

The Clark's Fork of the Yellowstone River near Cody, Sand Creek (a spring creek) east of Sundance, and the North Platte River near Saratoga are other top streams. The Communication Division of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Cheyenne 82002, has a list of guides. Tim Kelley's Fishing Guide, by Tim Kelley (Hart Publications, Denver, 1985; $9.95), covers Colorado and Wyoming. The Wyoming Travel Commission, Cheyenne 82002, has a free vacation guide.

The West's best wild trout fishing?

Get a group of partisans around a campfire and you'll hear sound arguments for streams in almost every state. But for consistently good, accessible fishing, for scenery, and for good support from tackle shops and guides, probably the best choice is Yellowstone country.

Much of this area--especially Yellowstone National Park and the southwest corner of Montana--is naturally superb trout habitat. Limestone bedrock provides ample nutrients for aquatic plants and insects. Water stays in the prime temperature range--40| to 65|--and gentle gradients provide good holding water.

Although spinning tackle can be effective in some situations, fly-fishing is generally the best way to approach these waters. There's no mystery to the sport. With basic gear and lessons or the help of a guide, even beginners can tie into hard-fighting trout. The key to success is knowing when to go and how to get started.

Although seasons vary from stream to stream, many waters open--and the fishing begins to pick up--by the middle of May. You'll be able to find good fishing somewhere in the region (see map on page 111) from now into October.

Spring. There can be some hot fishing now through June, but rivers are high with snowmelt, weather is changeable, and good fishing can die overnight. Spincasters do well tossing hardware when streams are high and murky; fly-casters work harder with nymphs and streamers. One notable exception, the Firehole, is often at its best now, with mayfly and caddis hatches emerging ahead of those on many streams.

The real excitement is caused by the stonefly or "salmon fly' hatch that brings up big trout on a half-dozen rivers. The large (size 4 to 8) flies used are easy to see and, unless it's windy, take little finesse to cast. The hatch lasts about two weeks in one spot, moving upstream as the weather warms. Henry's Fork starts in late May, the Big Hole in mid-June, the Madison above Ennis in late June, and the Yellowstone and Gallatin in early July.

Summer. Local experts agree that July is generally the best month overall--especially for beginners. Usually you'll find good stream conditions, warm weather, and consistent hatches (some two dozen major ones) of larger insects.

By late June, smaller park streams are clear; look for the green drake hatch on the Henry's Fork around June 20. Some of the area's most dependable cutthroat fishing begins on the Buffalo Ford section of the Yellowstone when that section opens July 15, but angling is usually elbow-to-elbow. Tributaries of big rivers usually clear by mid-July and are good for 10- to 15-inch trout well into September.

Small dry flies are especially good on spring creeks, and the best times are mid-June into August. Anglers willing to pay about $30 a day to fish on private ranches should telephone (area code 406) now for reservations on Armstrong (222-2979), DePuy's (222-0221), and Nelson's (222-2159) spring creeks.

August can be iffier. Although water conditions are good, it is the hottest and brightest time, aquatic plants are denser, and fish tend to be spookier. Fishing on some rivers--especially the Big Hole and Firehole--can really drop off, but bigger rivers like the Madison and Yellowstone are still good. The Snake above Jackson, the Gallatin, and the Beaverhead are at their best. This is the season for imitation terrestrials: grasshoppers, ants, beetles. At midday, try casting hoppers near the bank on the colder and faster rivers.

Both months mark the height of the Yellowstone vacation season, and anglers should book lodging and guides now.

Autumn. As weather cools off by mid-September, fishing picks up again. Many experienced fly-casters consider this one of the best times to fish in and around the park--probably because the mosquitoes and vacationers are gone. Old-timers expect a storm the third weekend in September; it snowed on us two years ago.

As water cools, insect hatches become less dramatic and happen toward the middle of the day. The bugs tend to be smaller than in summer and the fish (studies show many have been caught and released several times by now) bigger and wiser.

Huge brown trout begin spawning now and become easier targets as they move out of their lairs toward gravel beds. The upper Madison in the park shines, with the most action on big streamers.

Finding where the action is. Mecca for most fly-fishermen is West Yellowstone. Other good centers are Bozeman, Butte, Ennis, Jackson, and Livingston. Haunt these towns' tackle shops. Because conditions can change daily, your best bet is to buy terminal tackle--leaders, lures, flies--locally. "We have guides out on the rivers every day, and we're happy to tell people exactly where to go, what to use, and how to fish,' explains West Yellowstone outfitter Bob Jacklin.

A trip with a guide can be a good-- though expensive--investment. This summer, a day of guided fishing for two will range from $150 hiking the bank to $200 if you drift in a boat (lunch may be included; tip extra). Deal only with guides licensed for the state where they operate.

Tackle: getting a good start

Fly-fishing's popularity has soared as regulations and anglers' attitudes toward sportfishing have changed. The sport appeals especially to those who appreciate trout as a resource and for their recreational value. And, fly-fishing is a more effective way to fish.

In spite of fly-fishing's increasing popularity, myths persist about the sport requiring the finesse of a quarterback and a trunk full of expensive gear. Baloney.

The only gear you need to get started is a rod, reel, waders, and basic tackle. For help selecting the equipment best suited to your needs and budget, consult a shop specializing in the sport. Our photographs above give price ranges for good-quality items a beginner might buy--and use with satisfaction for years. For devotees who want very sophisticated gear, top-end prices run considerably higher.

Rods. In spite of the many options in lengths (7 to 10 feet), line weights (3 to 8), and materials (bamboo, boron, fiberglass, graphite), the type of rod detailed in our photograph above left is a good all-around choice. Graphite is generally springier and lighter than fiberglass, which helps lengthen your cast, but rods--of any material--from different manufacturers will cast differently. To get an accurate feel for a rod's action, have the shop fit it with a reel and line so you can cast it.

Reels. A basic single-action reel with adjustable drag is sufficient. Size varies to suit line length and type, with extra space taken up by backing. All parts should operate smoothly. A reel with an extra spool allows you to use a different type of fly line easily.

Waders. Getting into the water is part of the fun--and the risk--of fishing. Waders worn with separate shoes are lighter and more comfortable than waders with built-in boots. Neoprene will keep you warmest, but it's the most expensive. A belt is essential: water entering waders can drag you down in a swift current.

Learning to cast. Look for classes in local fly shops. Classes vary from a few hours at the store to on-the-water instruction. Costs range from $10 to $15 an hour, and equipment is often provided. Shops are listed under Fishing Tackle or Sporting Goods in the yellow pages.

Ask about local clubs that provide informal casting and fishing help. Other resources include adult education programs, city parks, and community colleges. See page 58 for a list of special schools.

Reference books for the beginner

More books have been written about fish and fly-fishing than almost any other sport; the first--A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle--was penned in the 15th century by Dame Juliana Berners, a nun. More current, and helpful, are excerpts from Ernest Schwiebert's authoritative two-volume classic, Trout (E.P. Dutton, New York, 1984; $125): three paperbacks ($10.95 and $12.95) excerpting sections on tackle and strategy are already published; more are planned. Other good references include:

The Compleat Angler's Catalog, by Scott Roederer (Johnson Books, Boulder, Colo., 1985; $14.95), is a paperback compendium of equipment with more than you need to know on evaluating tackle.

The Eddie Bauer Guide to Fly Fishing, by Cam Sigler and Don Berry (Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1985; $8.95 paperback, $16.95 hardback), provides an all-round introduction to the sport.

Western trout in their typical summer colors

Western waters contain both native and introduced trout. Pictured here are representatives of six native and two introduced species. They are shown in typical summer colors of trout that inhabit mountain streams; in other seasons and regions and under varying water conditions, each fish may have dramatically different coloring. The size of each is discussed in the accompanying descriptions.

Native trout are indigenous to the area where they are found. Wild trout are simply fish that are born in a stream or lake rather than in a hatchery; they can be native or introduced.

Technically, the trout family (Salmonidae) includes trout, char, Pacific salmon, grayling, and whitefish. The fish most anglers commonly call trout belong to either the trout (Salmo) or char (Salvelinus) group.

The species shown represent one or more trout varieties, each of which is found in distinct areas. There are at least 14 varieties of cutthroat; rainbow varieties include steelhead, redband, and Kamloops trout. And--while this display reflects the current consensus among most biologists, including leading authority Dr. Robert Behnke of Colorado State University--classifications do change (see bull trout).

The six natives illustrated--bull, cutthroat, Gila, golden, lake, and rainbow--and their relatives are of increasing concern to biologists who are working to maintain genetically pure populations in their native habitats, but all of these game fish are an important part of the West's wild trout heritage.


Some purists claim cutthroats (Salmo clarki) are easier to catch than most trout and don't fight quite as well as rainbows or browns, but they are still fine sport fish. They are the West's most widespread and varied native trout.

Named for the bright reddish line along the lower jaw, cutthroats were distributed throughout much of the West after the last ice age. Over time, isolated populations evolved into subspecies that include the Colorado, Lahontan, and Yellowstone cutthroats. Many populations have been threatened by interbreeding with introduced trout, and the biggest challenge facing biologists is keeping remaining isolated communities genetically pure.

Though seldom more than 5 pounds (Lahontans can exceed 20 pounds), inland cutthroats are generally larger, with bigger, rounder spots, than coastal varieties.


According to one expert, you don't fish for brown trout (Salmo trutta), you hunt them. Instinctively wary, browns generally prefer quiet water--especially deep pools and brushy, undercut banks--where they can be downright finicky feeders. However, they are somewhat more adaptable than other species to changing water conditions.

Widely stocked throughout the West, this hard-fighting European import has taken to Western waters in a big way. The first brown trout eggs came to the U.S. from Germany in 1883, and the first fry were planted in Western waters 10 years later. The variety of brown trout most commonly caught in the West is often called German brown but is actually a hybrid of Scottish and German stock.

A fish weighing 5 pounds is an exceedingly good catch, and one over 10 pounds is considered exceptional in most waters, although browns can get as big as sea-run rainbows (steelhead).


Isolated in the headwaters of California's Kern River by the same ice that carved Yosemite Valley 20,000 years ago, the golden trout (Salmo aguabonita) has unique gold and red coloring. Living mostly above 8,000 feet, this scrappy fighter rarely weighs in at even a pound; 1/4 pound (6 to 8 inches) is average.

Although the West's original 300 miles of golden trout streams have dwindled to just 60 miles because of habitat destruction, predation, and interbreeding, programs to restore several streams have been great successes. Goldens stocked in the 1930s still thrive in Montana, Washington, any Wyoming.


Native to the Gila River drainage in New Mexico, this 5- to 8-inch fish (Salmo gilae) was in danger of extinction because of hybridization. Populations are still too limited to be fished, but biologists are transplanting fry in isolated streams to ensure survival.

The equally rare Apache trout, Salmo apache (not shown) is similar in looks (it has larger spots) and size but limited in range to a few streams in Arizona's White Mountains.


Also called mackinaw, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) are native to Montana lakes, New England, and Canada but have been planted in deep, clear lakes throughout the West. Usually caught at depths of 50 to 100 feet, lake trout get big: 10-pounders are fairly common; fish over 30 pounds are trophies.


Rainbows (Salmo gairdneri) are without doubt the West's premier native game fish. Hard fighting and high leaping when hooked, they rank with brown trout for sheer sport. Rainbows occur from Alaska to the mountains of northern Mexico. They are surprisingly adaptable and varied; in California alone, biologists have recognized half a dozen subspecies. In some waters, some varieties fail to display the species' characteristic pink to violet lateral band.

Rainbows are mainly a fast-water fish, thriving in pockets in riffles and stony runs of large, cold rivers. Trout of 1 to 2 pounds are considered good catches, and 5-pound fish are real prizes; except in Alaska and a few other places in the West, 10-pounders are rare. Migrating ocean-run rainbows, called steelhead, range up to 30 pounds.

A popular hatchery fish, rainbows--particularly varieties from California's Sonoma Creek and the McCloud River system--are widely stocked.


Move over, Dolly. Taxonomists have decided that the native we know as Dolly Varden should be called bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in waters from northern California to Washington and in Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Nevada.

The true Dolly Varden, Salvelinus malma (not shown), looks nearly identical but is limited to coastal waters from Puget Sound to Alaska. Both Dollies and bulls can be mistaken for brook trout because of their brightly colored body spots, but neither has the brookie's dark markings on fins. Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), found in Alaska, are also similar to Dollies.

Inland bull trout are like rainbows in size; sea-run fish can get as big as steelhead.


Dubbed "squaretail' in its native waters in northeastern North America, the brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is right at home in the West's cold high-mountain streams and lakes.

The average brookie is small: a 9-incher is a good fish in California; 12-inchers are fine catches in bigger streams in the Rockies, though fish nearly twice that size are occasionally taken.

The generally small size in California is due in part to stocking of a specific strain in the San Bernardino Mountains in the 1870s and its subsequent planting throughout the Sierra and in other Western waters. These brook trout mature quickly and reproduce prolifically in both lakes and streams at a convenient pan size of 8 inches.

Photo: Landing a 3-pound rainbow in a wild trout stream

Young angler gets a hand in the eastern Sierra's Hot Creek, one of California's 24 designated wild trout streams. Net helps them unhook and release her fish unharmed. The rules on this stream: zero limit (catch and release); use only artificial flies with a single barbless hook. Other streams have different rules

Photo: Brown trout, netted in stream survey, is measured and weighed, then released by biologists monitoring wild trout stream

Photo: Fishing from skiff, angler on northern California's Fall River launched from California Trout's public access nearby

Photo: Silhouetted by an Idaho sunset, fly-fishermen on the Henry's Fork of the Snake River cast to rising trout during the evening hatch, the "magic hour' when fishing is often fastest

Photo: "Drift it past the rocks' is good advice for novice making cast on Colorado's Gunnison River, reached by kiking into Black Canyon near Montrose

Photo: Steaming fumaroles and geysers along Firehole River in Yellowstone warm river, creating good conditions for early summer fishing

Photo: Oblivious elk turns away from wader-clad angler fishing the upper Madison River inside Yellowstone National Park. On some park waters, wildlife may include moose, buffalo, and bear

Photo: A last look, then this 2-pound brown goes back into lower Yellowstone River. Guide Greg Lilly holds drift boat steady

Photo: A mecca for wild trout fishermen, Yellowstone and nearby sections of the three surrounding states offer anglers many choices. Head for the rivers shown and their tributaries. Best gateways: Bozeman, Jackson, West Yellowstone; all have airports. Driving distance to the park from Boise is 380 miles; from Salt Lake City 325; from Denver 620

Photo: Hat. Should shed rain; $6 to $20

Photo: Polarized sunglasses. Enable you to see fish and fly through glare; protect eyes from zinging hooks; $10 to $25

Photo: Vest. Has enough pockets to hold items shown at far right, and more; $35 to $70

Photo: Wader belt. Cinched at waist, it slows water entering waders if you fall in; $5

Photo: Waders. Safest and most comfortable are chest-high waders (held up by suspenders) and felt-soled wading shoes; $30 to $150 (suspenders included, or cost about $10)

Photo: Wading shoes. Most sure-footed way to wade; felt soles grab slimy rocks; $35 to $90

Photo: Fly rod. Graphite or fiberglass, 8 1/2 to 9 feet long with a 5- or 6-weight line; $35 to $250

Photo: Fly line. Start with a floating weight-forward or double-tapered line (size indicated on rod); $12 to $25

Photo: Fly reel. Single-action model to hold a fly line plus 50 to 100 yards of 18- or 20-pound-test backing line; $25 to $125

Photo: Bug repellent. Cost: $3 to $6

Photo: Clip-on flashlight. Has flexible neck; $10 to $20

Photo: Hemostat. Locks onto hook to release fish easily; about $5

Photo: Silicone spray. Helps dry flies float; about $2.50

Photo: Leader tippet material. For end section of leader; carry several sizes; $1.50 to $3

Photo: License. Required in all states; prices vary according to state, residency, duration

Photo: Fly boxes. One holds dry flies, one wet flies and nymphs; $4 to $45

Photo: Leader clippers. A retractable cord ($3 to $7) holds them; clippers alone, 50 cents to $5

Photo: Fleece. Holds flies; comes with vest

Photo: Leaders. From 7 1/2 to 12 feet, taper from thick line end to fine tip; $1.50 to $5

Photo: Reel spool. Holds different line, snaps into reel; $12 to $60
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Title Annotation:trout fishing
Date:May 1, 1986
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