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.