Daily Archives: October 26, 2015

2 posts

Spawning Brook Trout – Now?

When exactly do brook trout spawn around here? While there is no alarm that rings and signals it is time, it does begin in the fall. Depending on where you get your information, in Virginia, that time may be here.

Mossy Creek Outfitters reports on October 21, 2015:

Many brook trout are paired up or have already spawned. This is a controversial topic and we respect informed anglers decisions to fish or give the brook trout a break. Our shop does not guide on brook trout water during this season nor do we actively fish mountain wild waters now through winter. We understand many responsible anglers enjoy this time of year in the mountains. We ask that anyone fishing please do your best to stay out of the creeks as much as possible to avoid stepping on redds or possibly coating fragile eggs with silt stirred up from wading. Return fish quickly to the stream and observe the pools for actively spawning fish and redds. Remember that brook trout eggs will incubate on the streambed for 45-140 days depending on water temps! This means you will need to be careful in these creeks until early March most years! Enjoy the colors in the mountains and the great fishing but please be cautious. We want to ensure a great spawn this season.

Murray’s Fly Shop two days earlier:

The brook trout are spawning now and most anglers believe it is best not to stress them by fishing for them even though we return them to the stream.

The Shenandoah National Park website:

Brook trout spawn in the fall, most typically from early October to mid November within park streams. Spawning is triggered by decreasing day length and water temperature. Shallow depressions know as redds are excavated by female brook trout on typically gravel substrates. Redds are initially defended by both sexes followed by abandonment upon the completion of spawning. Hatching typically commences during mid to late January within park streams and juvenile fish begin to vacate redds by mid March.

I was on the Rapidan last week and I did not see signs of fish spawning there yet. However, that was at lower elevation and in roughly the middle of the park. Farther north and higher up on the Blue Ridge, spawning is likely to be underway.

It’s good to be aware of all this, and if you do fish, try not to step in the stream when you don’t have to. And don’t be greedy. It is easy to spot brookies when they are sitting still in the current guarding their redds. Brook trout are under pressure in a ton of ways. Choosing to avoid fishing for them while they are spawning is a personal choice, but spawning is a critical time for them to successfully reproduce, so please go easy if you are out there.

Angling Trade: Do Native Trout Pay?

A key question about native trout, posed in Angling Trade’s fall 2015 issue:

But do anglers really care? And, for an outfitter or guide, do native trout fisheries help pay the rent?

I’d say some anglers care, but many couldn’t care less about native trout.

I think native fish are gems. We are fools to ignore how significant it is that these creatures are still around, and in those few remaining places they’ve always been, despite the best efforts of mankind to fuck up nearly everything for them.

Greenback cutthroat on Colorado’s Front Range, Gila trout in New Mexico, Westslope cutthroat in Idaho and Montana, Yellowstone and Colorado River cutthroats in Wyoming, bull trout, native salmonids, and of course brook trout in the East all live in habitat under constant pressure from development, demand for water, pollution, and climate change. Things aren’t getting better overall. There are some pockets of improvement, and a few more areas that are holding steady, but mostly, it is a story of relentless decline for native trout.

Go read State of the Trout on Trout Unlimited’s website if you don’t believe it.

As always, it’s a question of what we value. It is great to read about some of the outfitters and anglers in the Angling Trade piece who value native fish, but it is certainly not the majority’s view in our society that we should preserve the places that support these species. If it were, we wouldn’t be reading articles like this.