What Do You Consider a Big Trout? - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 12:51 PM Thread Starter
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I've been thinking about this for a while. Some of us on this site and elsewhere sometimes refer to trout that are 16 inches or longer as "hogs".

From what I've read from PAF&BC survey data over the years, 16 inch and longer wild brown trout account for about 1.5% of the total number of wild brown trout captured during those surveys. That's about the same percent as brook trout over 9 inches.

As I've said, when I calculate my stats, I count any trout of 16 inches or longer as big or a hog, regardless of species and if they are wild or stocked. I fish mostly fish wild trout streams and catch relatively few stocked trout. Any trout that is at least 16 inches that I catch in PA that is a brook or a rainbow is almost certainly a stocked fish. I don't know any stream in PA where you have a realistic chance of catching a 16 inch native brook trout. My biggest native brookie in PA was a little over 15 inches. I caught it in the 80s in a tiny stream where most of the trout are less than legal size.

There are few streams in PA that have wild rainbows and fewer yet where one has a chance at a 16 incher. Not counting steelhead of course.

So what is considered "big" for each species, generally speaking? I know it can depend on the size of the stream and how much food is in it. On some native brook trout streams I fish, a 10 incher is a real prize.

Looking at my stats over the years, only about 2 percent of the native brook trout I catch are at least 10 inches. The largest native brook trout I've caught in the last ten years was 13.5 inches.

The vast majority of the wild rainbows I've caught in PA have come from three streams. The largest rainbow I've caught in those streams was a little under 13 inches. I have caught one wild rainbow that was 16 inches in PA, which came in the Delaware River in 2007.

Of course, each year all of the wild trout I catch in PA that are at least 16 inches are browns.

Some would say that a 16 inch brown is not a hog. In some streams, a 16 inch wild brown is a real prize. In a couple streams I fish, a 16 incher is not unusual. Looking at my stats, about 35% percent of the wild browns I catch that are at least 16 inches are 18 inches or longer.

So what do you think? What do you consider a big trout in PA? What do you consider big for each species?

Last edited by Trout Traveler; 03-05-2020 at 05:29 AM.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 01:29 PM
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I’ve caught thousands of native brookies in the last 55 years. One in a hundred might go 8”. I might have caught five that went 9”. Last year I fished a stream I’d never been on, and caught an 11” native. The streams I fish are out in the big woods, not much water, or feed. The trout just don’t grow very big there.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 02:11 PM
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Out of no doubt the thousands of native brookies I've caught, very few over 10". Largest was a hair over 14", in the fall, in a stream about 4 feet wide. That was about 40 years ago.

I would consider a 16" brownie or rainbow a nice trout in any PA stream. But in some of the larger streams, might have to be closer to 20" for me to consider it a true "hog".
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 02:55 PM
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I consider any trout a trophy , but I would consider any thing over 12" a trophy. I once caught a real nice 12" rainbow. the biggest I ever caught.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 03:42 PM
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For stocked trout anything 20"+. For native brook trout anything 8"+.
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 04:09 PM Thread Starter
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I probably should have said what do you consider big for wild trout of each species.

As I said before, I think the stream size and conditions play a major part. There's a very scenic stream that has wild brooks and browns where the biggest trout I've caught there was a 13 1/2 inch brown. Most browns there don't reach 10 inches. The biggest brookie I've caught there was 10 1/2 inches.

In a larger stream with lots of food, I'd characterize a big PA trout as 18 inches. A 20 inch wild trout is still pretty rare.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-22-2020, 05:22 PM
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Brown/Rainbow 20". Fish under 12" are scrappers, 12-16" decent, 16-19" nice ones. No Brookies get stocked in my area anymore, so my only Brookies are "natives". My biggest was just over 16". I get quite a few 7-9" fish and a few over 12" normally in the 2 mile section I fish. That creek has a 4' waterfall blocking fish movement.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 08:10 AM
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anything from Huntsdale Hatchery would be 14 inches... YBAC 20 inches
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 08:25 AM
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I also think that although I don't measure it, girth comes into play when feeling like I caught a big trout, especially with some stocked brookies. I have caught some really thick, strong bruisers that I was surprised to measure at less than 16", but definitely felt like they were a big trout. I have also caught a few "skinny" 16-17" browns that just didn't give me that "I caught a hog" feeling.
And it can be a bit fluid based on what is normal for the stream. On my most productive freestone native brook trout stream I routinely catch several 9-11" in an outing, while other streams an 8" native is a big trout and rarity for the stream.
My best day for big trout wasn't in total numbers caught. I caught a 20+" brown, an 11.5" native brook, and a tiger trout one day in a stream last year. While I have caught more "big" trout in one outing, I doubt I will have many, if any, days that match it.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 02-24-2020, 12:18 PM
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Trout Traveler,

I think all the trout are trophies, regardless of circumstance. Its the joy we get from catching them that makes it worth the trip. I especially like how you take us along for the ride on your trips !! THANKS AGAIN for always sharing !!
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