Described by many as one of the more colorful of the trout family, with its back ranging from olive to greenish-brown fading to light tans and pale yellow on the sides. Large dark spots can be seen on the back, sides and extending to portions of the tail and up to the gill covers. The tail fin is typically square, not forked as in some species.
Prized among fishermen because it is not always the easiest fish to catch. They are among the toughest fish to catch on flies. Consensus is that it speaks well of a fisherman's talents when he or she can hook a brown. Fishermen also like to go for browns because they are strong fighters and pull off some showy jumps. Brown trout are particularly valuable in the western United States because they are more resistant to whirling disease than other members of the trout family, such as the rainbow. It was brought from Europe to the United States in the late 1800s and adapted well. There is no official record of when browns were brought into Utah, but likely before the 1900s. The world record brown is 40 pounds, 4 ounces and was caught in Arkansas in 1992. The record in Utah is 33 pounds, 10 ounces, and was caught in 1977 from Flaming Gorge and at that point was the world record. Early records show a 37-pound, 8-ounce brown was pulled from the Logan River in 1937, but an investigation showed it was not taken by hook and line. Most of the brown trout caught in Utah range from one to two pounds, with some getting up above 15 pounds. Smaller browns grow up eating insects such as mayflies, caddis and stoneflies. Larger browns will eat fish, birds, crayfish and mammals.
Brown trout are widely distributed throughout Utah and the West. Browns tolerate warmer water than other trout and are found in many of Utah's lower elevation waters such as the lower reaches of the Provo, Weber, Fremont, Sevier and Logan rivers. They tolerate drought better as well and have partially displaced other trout species in many fisheries including the Green River below Flaming Gorge dam. Brown trout readily adapt to lakes and reservoirs and are abundant in most Wasatch Front reservoirs, especially Jordanelle and Deer Creek. Utah's best known brown trout reservoir is Flaming Gorge, where anglers from around the country still come to try to catch monster browns.
Smaller brown trout behave and feed like other trout and the same flies and lures usually work. Browns are particularly fond of attractor dry flies like the Royal Wulff, Royal PMX, Chernobyl Ant and any hopper pattern. Standard patterns like the Adams, Elk Hair Caddis and Yellow Sally are also good dry patterns during hatches. Brown trout of any size are minnow eaters and streamers like the Platt River, Muddler, Rabbit Matuka, and Bunny Leeches in black, brown or dark olive will often catch browns when all else fails. Lures for rivers are also minnow imitators like Countdown Rapalas, Mepps and Panther Martin spinners in gold or copper with orange or yellow bodies. Bigger brown trout feed mostly at night in both lakes and rivers and they like their meals big. Try mouse pattern flies on rivers or cast or troll Lucky Craft or Rapala minnows on lakes or rivers at night for big, big fish.
Note: Because brown trout are fish eaters they can impact other fish species and are being eliminated from some drainages where threatened species are present.
Byron Gunderson, Fish Tech Outfitters, contributed to this report