(continued from previous post)
Highest Outing of the Year
In early October, I fished a favorite small limestoner, a stream I hadn’t fished since February. The conditions were perfect, and I expected to catch a lot of trout. I caught 114 wild browns in 8 hours on that stream, with the largest being 12 ¼ inches. I also fished a stream that flows through my apartment complex for the first time, though only for 15 minutes before dark. I caught an 11 inch wild brown, a smallmouth bass, and a rock bass. I need to check out more of that stream in 2019.
Eroded bank from high water
A pretty 12 inch wild brown trout
A buttery yellow 12 1/4 inch wild brown
Since I fished so little in comparison to previous years, I caught a lot fewer trout. I only fished 32 times this year, which is about half as much as most years. I caught 1,127 trout in 196 hours for a trout per hour average of 5.8. My average for the year was 35.2 trout/day. I fished 36 streams and caught at least one trout in all of them. 567 trout were caught in freestone streams, and 560 came from limestone or limestone influenced streams. That’s about as close to an even split as I will ever get.
889 of the trout were browns (79%), 215 were brooks (19%), and only 23 were rainbows (2%). The vast majority of my trout were wild, naturally reproduced fish. 9 of the rainbows were wild. I had one day where I caught all three wild species. All trout were released.
1,077 trout (95.6%) hit spinners, while the remaining 4.4% (50) hit plugs. Though I tried spoons on a few occasions, I didn’t catch a single trout on them this year.
October produced the most trout (305) in 6 outings (50.8 average) in 38 hours (8.0 TPH).
The average size of the trout I caught this year was 9.4 inches. On limestone streams, the average was 9.7 inches; on freestoners, 9.1 inches. The average size of trout caught on spinners was 9.2 inches, on plugs, 13.7 inches.
I consider a small stream to be up to 20 feet wide, a medium sized stream to be between 21 and 49 feet wide, and a large stream one that is at least 50 feet wide. The streams I consider to be woodland freestoners are typically less than 30 feet wide.
My highest outing of the year produced 115 trout in 8.25 hours, as documented in the Favorite Outings section. I had one other day during the year when I hit triple figures, also described in the Favorite Outings section. My lowest day yielded a paltry three trout in 3 hours in early December. I have not had a zero trout day since August, of 2003, on a day when I fished for only 45 minutes due to heavy rains.
A rare wild rainbow trout, taken in September
History of Record Keeping
I stared keeping track of how many trout I caught way back in 1994, 25 years ago. In those days, I fished a lot differently than I do now. I fished mostly for stocked trout then, and I fished with bait, flies, as well as lures. I had a tendency to stay in one spot a long time back then. I caught a mere 221 trout that first year. As I began to fish more, travel to more streams and learn from my mistakes, my number of trout caught grew. It wasn’t until 2002 that I succeeded in catching at least a 1,000 trout in a year. I landed 1,353 trout that year. By then, I was fishing mostly wild trout streams, had gone to fishing only with artificials, and most importantly, fished with and learned from some superb trout fishermen; the Nale brothers, Trout2003, Troutspinner, and Jason Wlochowski. I’ve also learned a lot from fishing with Mark McKenzie, especially in fishing larger streams.
I learned a lot from keeping records; when to go to certain streams, and more importantly, when NOT to go to certain streams. I keep much more detailed records than I did in the first few years. I didn’t keep track of how often I fished in the first few years. I started keeping track of how many 16 inch and larger trout I caught in 2002. I didn’t keep track of how many hours I fished until 2010.
In the last five years, I have fished much less frequently than I did in the previous 10 years. I’ve had more family obligations and had some health issues. The biggest factor though, is that I don’t recover nearly as quickly as I used to. Since I must cover a lot of water due to fishing with artificials and do a lot of walking, that is a huge factor.
On August 26th, I caught my 40,000th trout since I began record keeping (that does not include the trout I’ve on my western USA and Canada trips). It doesn’t of course compare to Frank TroutAngler or Trout2003’s numbers, but I consider it to be a significant number. For the record, the trout was an 8 inch wild brown.
In the 25 years, I’ve caught 40,613 trout from 328 different streams. 25,982 (64%) are from limestone or limestone influenced streams and 14,631 (36%) are from freestone streams.
My highest year for trout caught was 2013. I caught 3,731 trout in 64 outings.
Brown trout comprise 79.2% (32,163) of trout caught.
Brook trout 15.3% (6,238)
Rainbows 5.3% (2,162)
Golden Rainbows 0.1% (29)
Tiger trout 0.1% (21).
Note: I’ve only been privileged to catch 3 wild tiger trout in my life.
Spinners account for 35,933 trout (88.5%)
Plugs 3,644 (9.0%)
Spoons 612 (1.5%)
Jigs 138 (0.3%)
Minnows 127 (0.3%)
Worms 83 (0.2%)
Flies 37 (0.1%)
Mealworms 33 (0.1%)
My highest trout catching month over 25 years, not surprisingly, is May, with 7,468 trout.
Big Trout Summary
Because of fishing so little this year, I caught a lot fewer big trout in 2018 than I did last year. I landed 41 trout that were at least 16 inches this year. It’s my second lowest year after 2014, when I fished 37 times during the year and caught only 30 big trout.
Due to persistent high water, I was only able to fish two streams that are my #4 and #5 all-time hog producers once each, and I didn’t get any big trout in either outing. I caught big trout in 17 of my 32 outings (53.1%). Fourteen different streams produced trout over 16 inches. My #1 big trout producer yielded 13 big trout, including the only 4 I caught that were over 20 inches during the year. My largest trout of the year, a 23 ½ inch brown, caught in May, came from that stream.
37 of my big trout were browns, and 4 were rainbows. 26 hit spinners, and the remainder hit plugs. My largest rainbow of the year was 19 ½ inches. The largest wild rainbow was only 9 ½ inches. My largest brook trout of the year was a 13 inch stocker. The largest native brook trout for me this year was 11 ¾ inches.
Below is a chart that shows the breakdown of big trout caught per day.
I also caught a reduced number of what I call near hogs, which are trout that are between 15 and 16 inches long. I caught 26 of them in 2018. Interestingly, all of them were browns. 20 hit spinners, the rest hit plugs.
An 18 inch brown, taken on a small limestone stream in mid-December
A 17 1/4 inch brown, caught in early December
19 1/2 inch rainbow, taken on a small limestone stream in November
18 1/4 inch wild brown trout, caught in early November in a mountain freestone stream
17 inch wild brown, caught in a remote NW freestone stream in September
A good one comes to the net
21 1/2 inch brown, taken in early September
Last big trout of the year, a 17 inch rainbow, landed in mid-December