Brown Trout Best Option for End-of-Season Anglers


This year has been an odd small stream trout season for me. I typically fish Crawford/Vernon/Crawford counties. My brook trout population has seriously decreased here in the last five years. I no longer target brook trout anymore. The regulations in most of my area for brook trout is immediate release of all brook trout. I typically eat a portion of my catch. With the regulations not allowing keeping brook trout and their numbers plummeting, it is actually unwise to target them.

Brook trout numbers are down because of many factors. Brown trout are encroaching into the brook trout’s range. The WDNR is even shocking browns out of local streams and transplanting them elsewhere. A small tributary near me even has a barrier put up to keep the browns out.

Gill lice and the warming streams near me are other factors in the downward spiral of brook trout population. Brook trout require colder water then browns. Gill lice is a parasite that attaches to only brook trout in my waters. They attach to the gills and make the brook trout’s breathing labored. Even a well-intentioned release of brook trout as quickly as possible can kill the stressed trout with its gills compromised. It is recommended to minimize the time you fight your brook trout. The longer you fight them, the more lactic acid builds up and the harder it is for them to recover. When you add gill lice to the equation, it is a death sentence to the brook trout. The WDNR has no solution for gill lice.

I target brown trout only now. There are no problems with them and they are flourishing. Some streams actually need a little thinning due to overpopulation. While 2020 was bad for brook trout, it has been a banner year for me for browns. Browns are typically bigger and harder to catch than brook trout. Browns also fight better than brook trout. The WDNR has not thrown in the towel yet on the brook trout but they are running out of options.

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