Articles in the Category Big Trout

Night Fishing for Trout — Location, Location, Location

It took me seasons of trial and error to understand this truth: On some rivers — especially those with larger trout — much of the water after dark is a dead zone. Nothing happens, no matter what flies or tactics you throw at them. Drift or swing big flies or small ones. Hit the banks with a mouse or swing the flats with Harvey Pushers. It doesn’t matter. On most rivers that I night fish, there are long stretches of water that simply won’t produce.

But in these same waters, there are sweet spots to be found — places where the action is almost predictable (by night-fishing standards), where two, three or four fish may hit in the same spot. And then just twenty yards downstream . . . nothing . . .

Night Fishing for Trout — Fight or Flight

I finally have an honest understanding about what draws me into night fishing. Yes, it’s the fear. And of the serious night anglers I’ve known, it’s the same for all of us. Fear is the crackling spark plug . . .

What does it take to catch a big trout?

For many years, I believed that it takes nothing special to catch a big trout. I argued with friends about this over beers, during baseball games, on drives to the river and through text messages at 1:00 am. My contention was always that big trout don’t require anything extraordinary to seal the deal. They need a quality drift, a good presentation, and if they are hungry they will eat it. I frequently pushed back against the notion that big wild trout were caught only with exceptional skill.

So for all who’ve heard me make this argument, I’d like to offer this revision: I still believe that large trout don’t need more than a good presentation. But what is GOOD may actually be pretty special. Meaning, it’s rare to find the skill level necessary to consistently get good drifts and put them over trout (large or small).

Here’s more . . .

Where to find Big Trout | Part Four: The Permanent Structure

Rivers are built from just a few parts. While the sand and soil of a streambed is fluid, the framework — the shape of a river — is directed by roots and rocks. Time and the tenacity of flowing water changes the shape of the hardest rocks, eventually carving granite into a new form, eroding and molding a riverbank toward a new course. And while nothing is eternal in a river or its floodplain, there’s enough permanent structure in a stream — the immovable objects — that good trout take notice. So does the big fish hunter . . .

The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

The Big Rig: The Two Plus One — Two Nymphs and a Streamer

Multi-fly rigs are nothing new. We pair one nymph with another all the time. Many of us fish two streamers, and most of us cast a dry fly with a nymph for the dropper once in awhile. But the pairing of a streamer and a nymph is less common. And maybe that’s because the typical presentations for each fly type are quite different — we tend to think we’re either streamer fishing or nymph fishing, but rarely both at the same time.

The Big Rig combines two nymphs and a streamer. With some minor leader adjustments and some outside-the-box thinking on tactics, you can kinda have it all . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #16 — You don’t need big flies to catch big trout

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #16 — You don’t need big flies to catch big trout

I’ll get right to the point: Your best bet for catching trophy trout is with medium to small flies. More specifically, large nymphs or small streamers are the perfect size. 

I’ve written about making the choice between going for big fish or for a bunch of fish, arguing that you can’t have both. I’ve also pushed the point on these Troutbitten pages that catching big fish does not require fishing big flies.

Talking with my buddy, Matt Grobe, the other day, he summed it up like this: “Fishing large streamers is the most overrated thing out there for catching the big ones.” Nice. And this is coming from a guy who fishes the heart of Montana, around Bozeman and beyond, all year round.

All of this goes seems to go against currently prevailing wisdom, but it wasn’t always that way . . .

Super-Prime Lies and Big Trout | The Spots Within the Spots

Super-Prime Lies and Big Trout | The Spots Within the Spots

I recently wrote about locating and fishing rivers where big trout live. But there’s a level beyond that. The spots within the spots are super-prime lies. These are places that hold big trout (almost) all the time. They are as reliable as anything in fishing ever gets.

Zoom in. Get specific. Because, within every good spot, there’s a best spot. And when you find it, you can really dial things in. The best fish will be there day after day . . .

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #7 — Choose lots of fish, or choose big fish — You can’t have both

Fifty Fly Fishing Tips: #7 — Choose lots of fish, or choose big fish — You can’t have both

I’ve often said that my best strategy for catching a big brown trout is to fool a bunch of trout, and one of them will be big. But I don’t believe that so completely anymore.

Let me say, right up front, that I have some friends who seem to accomplish high numbers and big fish in the same day all too often. My buddy, Matt Grobe, kinda tears it up out in Montana. But Matt’s always been a lucky bastard, so let’s just leave it at that.

In all honesty, Matt agrees with the premise that you can’t have both. I just checked. He said yes. So we have his blessing here to continue.

In the last five years I’ve shared the water with Burke a lot too, and I’ve learned some strategies about big fish fishing.

There are some truths, some guiding principles for targeting larger trout, and the list starts like this: #1: Stop trying to catch a bunch of fish . . .

Anything at Anytime | Meet Honey Bunny

Anything at Anytime | Meet Honey Bunny

I approach from downstream, making daring casts into the brush pile, probing a dark network that's shaped by collected seasons of tangled roots and half trees. A heavy current crashes into the pile and is redirected outward, and I wade into the bottom part of that...

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Holding a Trout — Their Heart in Your Hands

Holding a Trout — Their Heart in Your Hands

Fish pictures are the grand compromise of catch and release. An Instagram feed with a full gallery of trout is replacing the stringer of dead fish for bragging rights. And that’s a good thing. They look better alive anyway.

Would a trout be better off if we didn’t take its picture? Sure it would. Moreover, wouldn’t a trout be better off if we didn’t set a hook in its mouth and drag it through the water? Yup. So I think we have to be a little careful how self-righteous we get. Point is, we all draw the line somewhere, and I firmly believe that a quick picture, taken responsibly (I’ll get to that), won’t hurt a trout.

Most of the fishermen I know who’ve spent a great deal of time with their boots in the water have caught on to catch and release. The bare facts stare you in the face pretty quickly if you start keeping your limit on every trip. You soon realize that a good fisherman can thin out a stretch of water in short order, and a group of good fishermen can probably take down an entire watershed.

So we take pictures instead . . .

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Wait For It

Wait For It

The pivotal moment when everything changes. The event that makes the trip. The defining instance that separates all the memories that come before from the ones that come after. It’s what I wait for — what I look for every time I’m out there — and it’s why I keep...

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Thirty-Inch Liars

Thirty-Inch Liars

My story, Thirty-Inch Liars, is over at Hatch Magazine today. Here are a few excerpts..... -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- ... I once read through a publication that printed, "Thirty-inch wild trout are common in this stretch of water." Now, I don't care what river in...

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Trophy Hunting: Meet Jercules

Trophy Hunting: Meet Jercules

. . .I’ve gone through a couple phases of trophy hunting, but I’m always careful to return to my roots before the obsession overtakes me. I don’t want to lose my enjoyment for the simple things on the water: the friendships, the forests, the mountains, the mysteries and the way thick, cool moss on limestone feels like a sofa cushion for a mid-stream lunch. Those are the good things that are available every time I put on my waders, even though the big fish usually aren’t.

While going in and out of these phases of trophy hunting for wild browns, I’ve learned that I was looking for big trout in the wrong places. I had to seek out new rivers. And sometimes, I simply had to find new places on my old rivers. Point is, I learned that trophy hunters need a target. It’s not enough to go to the same places and fish the same ways as you always have. You have to learn where the big fish are, go there, and put on your patience pants — because Whiskeys don’t come easily . . .

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Home-Stream Fish of the Year

Home-Stream Fish of the Year

My home-water is not full of big fish.  Burke likes to call it fishing for midgets.  Is that politically incorrect? OK then; it's usually a matter of fishing for little fish.  However, this evening we caught a larger one -- easily my fish of the year on this water....

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