Brown Trout

Brown Trout

Characteristics - brownish in color, shading to green and yellow; large dark spots on sides surrounded by a yellow "halo" Distribution - Some streams and mostly stocked in small lakes. Foods - aquatic insects and their larvae, other aquatic life Expert's Tip - try fly fishing around fallen trees and under cut banks.

Other names -- German brown, browns, brownies.

The original stock of brown trout was introduced into Manitoba from the US in the early 1950`s. No natural brown trout reproduction occurs in our Province. William lake was for many years Manitoba's premier brown trout fishery. It has fallen off of late due to an enormous perch population. Presently most "put and take" streams and lakes are stocked once each year with fingerling brown trout. A few trout streams are stocked only with browns, and most trout streams receive at least some brown trout.

As its name implies, the color of this trout is generally brown, shading into a background of green and yellow. Spots on the sides of brown trout are generally larger and more prominent than on other trout, and they are often bordered with a light-colored "halo." Few, if any, dark spots are found on the tail fin. The leading edge of all belly fins on brown trout is yellow or about the same color as the body. Lower portions of young brown trout are yellow, fading to gray or white underneath. Males, during the breeding season, often exhibit vivid yellow to reddish-yellow colors along the belly region and a sharply hooked lower mandible. The vomer, a bony structure in the roof of the mouth, has sharp teeth in an alternating or "zig-zag" row. There are 115 to 150 scales in the lateral line.

Brown trout go through their spawn ritual during September and October. But this is all to no avail. Water in Manitoba stays too cold too long and oxygen levels drop below low acceptable levels for their eggs to survive. Manitoba hatcheries do stock many lakes and a 30' specimen is not out of the question in the province.

Fingerling brown trout released at a length of 2 l/2 inches in May will average about 7 l/2 inches one year later and begin entering the catch during that summer. Browns grow nearly one inch per month during mid-summer, with much slower growth in spring and fall, and like most fish, usually no growth occurs during winter. Growth of hatchery-reared fish is constant when water temperature and feeding levels are uniform, averaging slightly over one-half inch per month. A l0-inch brown trout stocked from an Manitoba hatchery is probably about 18 months old.

Brown trout strongly orient to cover at the first sign of movement, be it fishermen or a fish-eating bird. They seem capable of survival in a variety of locations as long as there is ample protective cover and water temperature does not continuously exceed 70 degrees F. Brown trout feed largely on terrestrial and aquatic insects, worms and small crayfish. Fish become important in the diet of larger browns. Daily feeding patterns change seasonally with varying water temperature and light intensity. Peak insect drifts will often occur after dark, and browns are well-known for their nocturnal feeding. Brown trout are very capable of switching from life in a hatchery to that in a stream environment and adapt readily to a diet of natural food items.

Brown trout are not an overly significant part of Manitoba's stocking policy. They are prone to disease in some lakes (which have produced good browns) and they are costly if anglers persist in keeping everything they catch.. Tokaruk lake had a good population but now has been depleted and Goose lake in Roblin still has a reasonable population. They are probably the most tedious species of trout for the average angler to catch, but as a result they provide the greatest challenge to dedicated trout fishermen.