Unicoi Outfitters is north Georgia's premier guide service and fly fishing outfitter, located on the Chattahoochee River near alpine Helen. Look for fishing reports, gear and book reviews, and general musings here from our staff and guides.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Brown Trout Tactics

From our Man In The Field, Landon Williams:

                  There is just something about Brown Trout that get many anglers’ hearts racing and a large grin on their face.  We all dream of catching a large hook-jawed brown that seems as old as the dinosaurs.  They are for many, the most prized and even most frustrating species of salmonid we can pursue here in the Peach State.  Despite our fascination with them, it’s a surprise to many anglers when they do catch one. This is due in large part to the varied habitat that brown trout prefer and the tactics used to target them.

                  Browns have a tendency of not being in the places many anglers expect when targeting trout.  Most anglers will fish in the classic riffles and runs that we think of as great trout habitat. You can certainly find brownies in these spots when they are actively feeding, especially when there are heavy hatches during warmer weather.  However, you are much more likely to find browns in the water you may find much less desirable to fish on a regular basis.  You know the type, usually deep and slow interspersed with structure such as woody debris and large boulders. This is indeed the type of water where you’re most likely to encounter a brown.  At the same time, this water may be the one where anglers are least likely to be successful.  Slower water gives an angler's quarry much longer to inspect the fly before deciding to eat or not.  This game for some can be quite exciting and challenging but for many anglers, who are just out to catch a few fish, it may seem it's not worth the effort.  Fear not however, as there are a few key areas where brown trout get the same type of protective habitat while still having more water flow over their heads and it can tip the scales in the angler’s favor.

There are three types of habitat that can be noticeably improve your chances of running into a nice brown trout, whether it be a Delayed Harvest fish or an elusive stream-born wild fish. The first and, in my opinion, most important structure a brown trout will utilize are undercuts. Undercuts exist here in GA quite often but not in the same sense you may think of in a meandering meadow stream with undercut banks out West.  Rather, I'm referring to large undercut rocks and my favorite, bedrock shelves. It is quite common to find brown trout hiding under such types of habitat, even if it is not particularly deep. 

A second type exists less frequently but still provides great habitat.  It's a back eddy.  Back eddies are usually slow and provide a large volume of food as it drifts away from the main current. It is not uncommon to find browns here and they can be targeted by casting into the “upstream” side of the back eddy (this may even mean casting downstream into the eddy’s current and fishing the drift back upstream.) 

Last but not least are those bank side pockets and runs that many anglers often ignore.  Current along the bank is usually quite slow compared to the middle sections of river.  Brown trout, who are fans of slower current, can be found in runs and riffles right next to the bank, especially if they have overhead cover in the forms of bushes or overhanging trees. This habitat type is even better if they incorporate any of the two previously mentioned attributes.

Fly selection in itself is secondary to having the proper presentation and a sneaky approach to your target area and quarry.  Good Luck and have fun in your quest for a trophy.  I know I will when I go after the large wild brownie who broke me off recently in a log jam!


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