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Trout fish

Trout fishNext in order to the salmon is the large and important group of trout and charrs. There are twenty-four species and subspecies of salmon trout.

The Rio Grande trout is more familiar to the anglers of the Middle West, particularly those residing in Colorado. It is an exceptionally game fish and a choice feeder, takes the fly greedily and fights hard under restraint. In the opinion of a resident angler it is "the best fish that swims in any waters of the earth." There is little difference between the Rio Grande and Colorado River trout. The latter seems to have attracted the attention of the anglers of that section to a greater extent. It is the objective of nearly all their outings, and its game qualities are heralded in every sportsman's journal throughout the country. It grows to a weight of over nine pounds, though the average is much less; but it takes the artificial fly with avidity, particularly the coachman, black hackle, June-spinner and the black prince. The best month for fishing is July.

One of the most interesting of the salmon trout is the Lake Tahoe, or silver trout. This fish grows to a weight of twenty-five to thirty pounds and spawns in the depth of the lake. It is probably sought for by a greater number of anglers than any other fish of the Pacific slope waters. Being reached in a few hours from San Francisco, the resident anglers of that city make Lake Tahoe the Mecca of their outings, and no visiting angler rounds up his fishing tour unless he essays these big trout.

The hotels at the lake are crowded all through the season, for the fish are large and numerous. The Lake Tahoe trout is found in the following lakes and rivers: Lakes Tahoe, Pyramid, Webber, Donner, Independence, and in the rivers Truckee, Humboldt, Carson, and in most of the streams of the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada.

The steel-head trout (Salmo gairdneri), also known as the hard-head, is a large sea trout growing to a weight of twenty pounds, or more, and is migratory like the salmon, ascending rivers to spawn many hundreds of miles into the State of Idaho, and into other sections. It inhabits coastwise streams from British Columbia south to Santa Barbara, California, and those west of the Cascade Range. It is very abundant in the Lower Columbia, the Russian, and Klamath rivers. Its edible qualities are inferior to those of the same family east of the Alleghany Mountains. But if inferior as food fishes, the steel-heads possess all the game qualities of Eastern trout. They are fly takers when in the streams on shallow ledges of rock in the lower waters. On taking the natural bait the steel-head is apt to surge deep and strong, but when fastened on the fly for which it rises, it is an acrobat, leaping repeatedly from the water. These aerial flights lead the angler to believe that it is closely allied to the rainbow trout, the only trout west of the Rocky Mountains - with the exception of the stream steel-head - that will rise and leap frantically into the air.

The rainbow trout (Salmo irideus) are typical game fishes of the salmon family, and are equal in fighting qualities, when found in streams of moderate size and depth, to the leaping salmon of Lake St. John. It is one of the most muscular and resourceful of fishes for its size, rising freely to the fly, leaping on a slack line, and fighting literally to the death.

In Eastern waters, the rainbow appears to have acquired increased strength, and certainly greater leaping powers. It is also the hardiest of the salmon trout, for it will thrive in water of a higher temperature than is suitable for other species. Though a gormand in its appetite, it is cleanly in feeding, liking best the live minnow or insect on the surface. A swimming grasshopper is irresistible, and no fish rises so freely to a cast of artificial flies.

There are five subspecies of rainbows; the most prominent being "the brook trout of western Oregon," and the "McCloud River rainbow trout," from which stock the Eastern and Middle West were first stocked in 1870. Another important subspecies is the Shasta rainbow, which rises freely to any of the standard flies and grows to a stream weight of five or six pounds. It yields exceptional sport in waters where it is new to the angler's rod. The dressing of feathers which it prefers, when tied on No. 10 sprout hooks, are those of the March brown, coachman and brown hackle. The habitat of this trout is in the streams of the Sierra Nevada, from Mt. Shasta southward, but it is best known in the McCloud River. Two other rainbows are the Kern River trout, and the golden trout of Mt. Whitney, California, both being of peculiar interest from the fact that they are found in no other water than the Kern River and its tributaries. Both are very game, taking the fly on the surface and fighting hard by deep and long surges. The Mt. Whitney trout is the most beautiful in color of any salmon trout.

Of the three foreign species of salmon trout transplanted to American waters, the best known by anglers is the German or brown trout (Salmo jario), which was planted in 1883. An unpardonable mistake has been made in planting them in small streams where they feed on and destroy the native jontinalis. Being able to exist and thrive in water of a higher temperature than is adapted to other trout they should never be placed in streams which the latter inhabit. In the waters of the Eastern States the brown trout grows very rapidly, averaging nearly a pound increase in weight in a year. It is in its prime for the rod from the first of May to the middle of September, during which period it rises freely to the fly, better in the evening than in the brighter hours of the day, a habit equally prevalent among other trout. I have had them repeatedly leap above the surface on the fly in the swift running waters of the Beaverkill (N.Y.), and have caught them up to three pounds in weight, living in the same pools as the small-mouthed bass; indeed, I have more than once caught a double of brown trout and bass. The flies most luring are a small silver doctor, red spinner, and beaverkill. I have caught many brown trout of large size in deep pools on the worm, phantom minnow, and silver soldier spinner; in fact it will go savagely for pretty nearly any lure.

Another foreigner is the Lake Leven trout (Salmo levenensis). It grows to the size of four pounds but the average is much less. It is about equal in fighting qualities to our native trout, rising well to the artificial fly. The last of the foreign species is the salmon trout (Salmo trutta). Various popular names have been given to this fish, such as guiniad, bull trout, and salmon trout. Its habits are similar to our own native sea trout. It is migratory, and is found running up streams emptying in the Atlantic. It is a game fighter, but more apt to take a troll of natural minnows or an artificial phantom than the fly, however carefully cast before it.