Big Trout More Likely in the Winter - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 04:21 PM Thread Starter
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Big Trout More Likely in the Winter

As it is snowing outside on the first day of Spring, I thought I would pose a question.

For those of us who fish during the winter, do you feel you are more likely to land a big trout during an outing in the winter than at other times of the year (other than the fall)? I'm defining a big trout as least 16 inches.

Now, like most everyone, I fish a lot less in the winter than I do the other times of the year, so I would expect to catch fewer big trout in the winter than the other times of the year, but when I fish in the winter, I often have a greater expectation of catching a big trout than at other non-fall times of the year, for a few reasons:

1.) Though I have fished mountain freestone streams in the winter in the past, I generally don't do it because the water temperature will be in the mid to high 30s. In the spring and summer, given good water conditions is when I fish those streams and though I've caught some big trout on mountain freestoners, it is much less likely to happen than on other types of streams.

2.) Most of the streams I fish in the winter are limestone streams because they're warmer. They tend to be more fertile and tend to have more big trout.

3.) I use plugs more in the winter than the other months, as the trout often hold in slower water and aren't as active, but the plug may trigger more of a response. I've looked at my records and though I still catch the majority of my large winter trout on spinners, I catch a much higher percentage of big trout on plugs in the winter than the rest of the year.

4.) Because there is far less pressure during the winter and because of the cold water, I think some trout that are more prone to night feeding during the summer, will feed during the day in the winter. The largest trout I ever caught, was caught in early March on a large freestone stream. That trout was likely a night feeder during most of the rest of the year.

By far, most of the big trout I catch are browns. I fish mostly wild trout streams, but I sometimes catch some big rainbows that were stocked in tributary streams.


I looked at my catch percentages by season in terms of on what percentage of trips did I catch a big trout. Not the total number, whether I caught a big trout on a trip or not.

As I expected, my highest percentage of trips where I caught big trout was in the fall: just under 48 percent.

The summer was second, at just under 45 percent.

Winter was third, at a little over 40 percent.

As expected, Spring was last at slightly better than 33 percent.


I realize that I fish differently than a lot of people in this forum, which is why I ask the question of what your thoughts are. A fair number likely do little, if any, trout fishing in the winter. Some may specialize by fishing at night and catch some very large trout during the summer. There are some that may use large lures, flies, or baits and specialize in catching big trout. Some fish mostly for stocked trout and may be more likely to catch big trout in the spring after preseason and in-season stockings.

I'm interested to see what others thoughts are. It's a way to pass time until it's warm enough to fish.

TT

Last edited by Trout Traveler; 03-20-2018 at 04:24 PM.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 04:43 PM
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I'd say if I am going to catch a big trout it most times in the fall. Second would probably be late spring/early summer. 99.9% of the time it's a brown, but have caught bigger rainbows on occasion. I contribute the fall success to being spawning times for browns
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 04:58 PM
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I catch 90% of my big trout in March and June.

"live and learn, and then catch fish"
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-20-2018, 07:44 PM
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I dug back into my statistics for the last 22 years (1996 - 2017) to check to see how many hours I spent fishing for each 16"-plus trout that I caught in each month. Winter fared quite good. In December during the last 22 years I fished an average of 9.35 hours for each big trout; January 12.14 hours; and February 15.47 hours. These months ranked 3rd, 5th and 6th respectively. My worst month was April -- I spent 31.96 hours for each big trout that I landed. My best month was October at 8.74 hours, followed by November at 9.27 hours.

As a percentage, meaning big trout caught compared to total trout caught per month, December ranked first at 1.18% (68 big trout out of 5,776 total trout caught that month). February came in 3rd at .84% and January was 4th at .83%. June was the worst month with .22% of the trout I caught being 16" or better (92 big trout out of 41,133 total trout).

I think much of this has to do with where I fish at different times of the year. In June I fish a lot on little freestone streams up in the mountains, while in the winter I'm hitting the larger limestoners a lot.

I can be contacted at [email protected].
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 10:44 AM
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I quit trout fishing years ago. I fished minnows almost exclusively, all year round. Even kept them in a tub with aerator during the winter months. I caught a lot of big fish in the teens, up into the twenties in the winter. Lost more than a few really big ones playing them on 4lb. test. Most of my trout fishing was on the Yellow Breeches. The YBAC club put a lot of big fish in the stream. Then I got into walleye fishing and quit trout fishing.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-21-2018, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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I used to be a member of the YBAC back in the 90s and helped them stock a few times. The January stocking had a lot of big trout in it.

I didn’t fish the stream after I finished stocking.

I used to fish the Yellow Breeches a lot when I lived in VA and in the Philly area. I don’t think I’ve fished there in at least 12 or 13 years. It gets too crowded.

Last edited by Trout Traveler; 03-22-2018 at 01:19 PM.
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 09:20 PM
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What's parts of the yellow breeches have you guys done well at?
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-24-2018, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charman03 View Post
What's parts of the yellow breeches have you guys done well at?
. Messiah campus. Around the bridges
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-25-2018, 04:03 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chester farmer View Post
. Messiah campus. Around the bridges
I haven't fished the Breeches for years, but it is heavily stocked by the PAF&BC and the YBAC. When I was a member of the YBAC, they used float boxes to better distribute the trout instead of just dumping them at the access points. I would recommend fishing the Breeches wherever there is cover and get away from the road and easy access points.
Also, avoid it the first day. I've seen pictures in the past and it's elbow to elbow. I don't understand how that's enjoyable fishing.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-26-2018, 08:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chester farmer View Post
. Messiah campus. Around the bridges

you come all the way up from Lancaster co. to fish the Breeches?


I'm a member of the YBAC and on going current stocking programs It amazes me where people travel from the get here..
As I'm passing them by with my box. it's the usual Hello Good Morning.. I always ask where you from? a lot of Maryland guys up for opening week, few New Yorkers, and some as far away as Erie,Pa.

social media has really expanded fishing opportunities and areas..
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