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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Epeorus albertae (Heptageniidae) (Pink Lady) Mayfly Nymph from the East Fork Issaquah Creek in Washington
This specimen keys to the Epeorus albertae group of species. Of the five species in that group, the two known in Washington state are Epeorus albertae and Epeorus dulciana. Of the two, albertae has been collected in vastly more locations in Washington than dulciana, suggesting it is far more common. On that basis alone I'm tentatively putting this nymph in albertae, with the large caveat that there's no real information to rule out dulciana.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
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FisherOfMen's profile picture

Posts: 115
FisherOfMen on Jun 1, 2012June 1st, 2012, 11:30 am EDT
In the river I've been fishing, I have successfully landed over a dozen larger brown trout. They have all been around 15 inches, the largest maybe 18.

Now I want to try and catch the largest fish in the river. The guide I'm working with said that skating a mouse over a pool after dark will work, so I made a few mice and have yet to try.

Are there any other tips on where the absolute giants hold, differences in their diet, etc?

Through my research, the largest trout have been caught on size 26 midges and 2/0 streamers. That seems kind of contradictory, so what is the best approach? Any tips or experience is appreciated! Thanks!
"Nothing makes a fish bigger than almost being caught." -Author Unknown

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -Edmund Burke
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jun 2, 2012June 2nd, 2012, 7:12 pm EDT
Because every stream is so different, the ultimate answer is spend time on the stream, and spend time with other fly fishers. And keep researching. In time you will find many ways to target the fish you want, whether they are the bigger ones, or the more difficult. Sometimes they are one and the same, but not always. It has been said that in time many fly fishers opt for the latter. I hope you enjoy the journey; after more than twenty years for me now every fish is a gift.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
JAD's profile picture
Alexandria Pa

Posts: 362
JAD on Jun 3, 2012June 3rd, 2012, 5:05 pm EDT
Hi all
Louis tell F.O.M .where you bought that Steel-head Tape measure.
That should work.


They fasten red (crimson red) wool around a hook, and fix onto the wool two feathers which grow under a cock’s wattles, and which in colour are like wax.
Radcliffe's Fishing from the Earliest Times,
Martinlf's profile picture
Palmyra PA

Posts: 3047
Martinlf on Jun 4, 2012June 4th, 2012, 1:43 pm EDT
JAD is joking. He gave me the tape measure, so I guess you'll need to go ask him for some tips. I did, with good results.
"He spread them a yard and a half. 'And every one that got away is this big.'"

--Fred Chappell
Strmanglr's profile picture
Posts: 156
Strmanglr on Jun 5, 2012June 5th, 2012, 6:57 am EDT
Where are big trout? Where do they hold in the river? My experience on the rivers I fish; in the holes, undercut banks, hanging out by submerged logs, to name a few that come to mind right away. Think like a fish in a river, where is there a constant supply of food that the fish doesn't have to move far to get? Where does the current push food items in the river? My theory on holes is that items tumbling along the bottom fall right into that hole, including injured fish, crayfish, nymphs and the like. The second thing is where is there cover? The primary predators to a fish are bigger fish and birds that eat fish. Another factor is a break in the current, fish don't want a workout all day and night. This is why pools hold fish too, that current is slower and easier to hang out in. I believe that the biggest fish in a hole is going to hold the best lie.

I love to dry fly fish but I think it's the hardest to way to catch fish. The last couple years I go to my favorite spot for dry fly fishing. I catch what I can on dry flies and then I tie a nymph dropper on, and proceed to out catch what I just did. Fish that were refusing now eat without hesitation. That probably has something to do with how many people dry fly fish that section too. Hatches can bring those bigger fish out too, but for every fish that slurps one off the surface how many did it eat before they ever got to the surface?

I'm no expert by any means though, good luck.
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
Catskilljon on Jul 23, 2014July 23rd, 2014, 4:09 pm EDT
Good advise from all!

I believe when browns get really big, they almost have to become night feeders. Depending on the stream, the bigger they get the more difficult it is to stay safe. The biggest baddest trout in any stream will certainly occupy the best lie, whatever it may be. A deep undercut, logjamb, hole, crevasse...they muscle out the smaller fish. You ever fish a terrific looking spot and wonder why you didn't catch anything? Most likely its because a monster is in there and he ain't taking what you are offering. That is the place to go back to at night.

Like someone said above, they got that big for a reason and that reason is the lie they have is perfect, hard to access for us and keeps them out of sight in daytime. It is possible to catch extra large trout in the daytime, but your chances of the biggest ones increase at night. You know when I have consistently caught my best fish? High water. Dirty and high. Like night foraging, Browns feel safe in dirty water and will come out in the open for more abundant food flushed out with heavy flows. My biggest Catskill trout was caught during a heavy rain, and I hooked it 6 ft from where I was standing. They lose most of their fear in those conditions. CJ
Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jul 24, 2014July 24th, 2014, 6:09 am EDT
Well said, CJ. When you talk high and dirty, how much visibility are you talking about?

I read Kelly Galloup's, "Modern Streamers for Trophy Trout" awhile ago, and he takes a different approach. While he agrees that big fish become active at night, he disagrees with most conventional logic as to where they sit during the day. Obviously this is all dependent on water, and his research (scuba diving in the rivers he fished) took place in Michigan on rivers like the Au Sable, PM and Little PM. He said that contrary to popular belief, the biggest fish in a river will sit wherever it damn well pleases. That's the beauty of being the biggest and baddest. He said that he would often find those 24"+ fish sitting in shallow water on an inside bend, or shallow water tight to a bank. He says it's almost the opposite of where you would usually look for them. These fish weren't feeding, just sitting.

Galloup's whole streamer methodology stemmed from these observations. These fish were sitting in odd places, clearly not feeding, so how do you get them to take a fly? Throw something huge in front of them and try to get them to take out of aggression.

Whether anyone agrees with this or not is one thing, but I think it is interesting and offers a different perspective on large trout.

Two things. One, Galloup is talking about the biggest fish in the river. Not the standard 20"+ big fish, more like 24-30" big fish. Two, Galloup claims the biggest trout he ever saw was in the Little PM, and he claims it was 38".
Gus's profile picture

Posts: 59
Gus on Jul 24, 2014July 24th, 2014, 12:27 pm EDT
Yeah I think the above responses just about covered it. My largest Brown (25") was caught with a #22 trio spinner on the South Platte in CO. Now that I fish the PNW I've heard several times that to get the sharks (the really big boys) you'll have to try for them at night with something that is also large and worth their time.
"How do you help that son of a bitch?"

"By taking him fishing"

-A River Runs Through It

Kschaefer3's profile picture
St. Paul, MN

Posts: 376
Kschaefer3 on Jul 24, 2014July 24th, 2014, 1:27 pm EDT
My largest Brown (25") was caught with a #22 trio spinner on the South Platte in CO.
Don't you love tailwaters?
Upstate NY

Posts: 160
Catskilljon on Jul 27, 2014July 27th, 2014, 11:38 am EDT
When you talk high and dirty, how much visibility are you talking about?

Not complete chocolate milk, but close to it. Some streams cloud up worse than others, the one I fish at worst has about 6" of visibility.

Interesting thoughts on the biggest fish staying "anywhere they want". I myself have flushed big trout that were right in the open while moving through water I didn't think held much [boy does that piss you off!] but I would not think that fish was the biggest in the area.

I have a story that took place 5 or 6 years ago at Junction Pool in Roscoe. It was early summer, and I was just walking on the road and crossing the iron bridge to get to the pool. I looked down and just after the bridge where the Beaverkill runs in, there were 5 guys all casting to the middle of the run. 2 on one side and 3 on the other, all you saw were fly lines and beetle patterns. A young guy was on the bridge looking down as I was and I stated that "those guys are going to spend a whole lot of time catching nothing like that". He got close to me and pointed down into the stream and there was a trout, my Lord if it wasn't 30 inches long it wasn't 6. I never saw a fish like that, and for it to be right smack dab in broad daylight, not in the least trying to hide, out in the open just finning there! It was huge! These flies were drifting over it and I swear I could see it laughing. After we watched it there for a minute or 2 longer it came up off the bottom, still facing the current and just let the stream slowly move it back to the junction.

That fish, for sure went wherever he wanted whenever he wanted! CJ
RMlytle's profile picture

Posts: 40
RMlytle on Jul 27, 2014July 27th, 2014, 1:30 pm EDT
I've noticed in the small freestone I fish that the ONLY time I can specifically target the largest of the wild browns that live there is when the water is high, particularly during the winter. I like there to be a little floating debris like leaves and twigs, and for the pocket water that I usually fish to be white water.

The big ones are often in the tail of a bridge pool during these conditions, and last year I landed a 22 inch wild brown on Christmas eve day using a very heavily weighted worm pattern tied from red egg yarn and gold tinsel. The visibility that day was probably 14 inches. The fish took on the swing.

When the visibility is 2 feet or more I ditch the worm, and either use small bucktails (with colors similar to the small brook trout and chubs in the stream) or stonefly nymphs. I find you need to put in a lot of drifts, the fish in these cold water conditions won't move far.

These tactics have won me the 22 incher, a few around 18, and plenty from 14-16 inches. for the size of the stream, those are beasts!

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