Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Tiger Trout, and a Couple of Fishing Tips

This past weekend I was able to make my way into one of my favorite fishing waters on the Boulder Mountain, to take a shot at early season fishing for one of my favorite species, tiger trout.  While this is one of those lakes that I won't disclose the location of, I will point out that though tiger trout used to be somewhat rare in Utah, you will now find the species in several southern Utah waters including: Otter Creek Reservoir, Lower Bowns Reservoir, Piute Reservoir, Panguitch Lake, and several waters on the Boulder Mountain.  Tiger trout were just introduced a year ago to several of these lakes, so give it another year and you will see some great fish come from some of these waters.

3 1/2 pound tiger trout caught saturday.

So, what is a tiger trout?  It is a hybrid cross between a make brown trout and a female brook trout.  The fish has a dark maze-like pattern all over a brownish, gray body. The belly is yellowish orange as are the pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. The tail fin is square.  These fish have an appetite for other fish at a young age, and because of this appetite they tend to grow very rapidly.  You will find this predatory fish cruising shallow waters where a lot of other species will not as they prey on smaller species.  Because they feed so well on smaller species, wildlife managers stock these fish into lakes where it is necessary to control populations of problem fish species, such as the Utah chub, and areas where lighter fishing pressure allows some trout species to populate rapidly.  Being a hybrid species, these fish do not spawn (or very rarely do by chance), being sterile do to the hybridization of the species.

If you have never hooked a tiger trout, you are missing out!  I have never caught a tiger trout that hasn't given me a really good fight!  Through the ice, on a fly, or caught on a nightcrawler, these fish will give you one great fishing experience! 
The fight is on!

On Saturday I was lucky to hook a big tiger in very shallow water.  This fish was amazing!  The second I set the hook he took off and I realized quickly that I needed to adjust my drag to avoid him breaking my line.  The reel was singing for sure, and as I fought this fish it reminded me of watching bass fishing on TV!  This guy was jumping, rolling, and pulling line like crazy!  As he wore down I attempted to land him in the best spot that I could in a weedy area.  I could not reach far enough to get a thumb in his mouth, and for fault on my part, I left the net home!  So, what could I do?  I had to grab the line to pull him onto shore.  I pulled him from the water, a beauty for sure!  No doubt over 25" long, and weighing 5-6 pounds!  Then fate took over!  The line snapped, the fish hit the ground, and before I could scoop him up he flopped back into the lake.  So, fishing tip #1 for the day: be sure to check you line before you go fishing!  This was the first fish I hooked that morning and that line snapped so easy!  Upon further inspection I found that I could break my line by hand fairly easy.  I'm not sure how he stayed on as long as he did.  So, I pulled off about 30 feet and got back down to good, strong line.  Now problems the rest of the day, even with the 3 1/2 pounder I caught later on.

Panguitch Lake tiger caught through the ice
I'm not a fan of replacing line every year, but some people are.  I find if I strip several feet off (the line exposed to the elements) line buried deeper in the reel is fine for another year.  So, I replace every 2-3 years this way.  Anyway, it's up to you how often, just make it a point to inspect before you go, and loose the lunker as I did!  I'm now going to set up a day before I go every spring (and winter for ice fishing) to inspect all of my fishing gear.  Remember to grease those reels to!  Take care of that investment for sure!

Tip #2: don't be afraid to switch up your technique!  Everyone may be telling you what is working on a lake, but fish are funny, and when I get there it usually doesn't work.  That doesn't mean I don't stop using that bait or lure, I just find another way to fish it.  With spinners, speed can be the difference between skunked and a good catch.  Change up your reeling speed, and directions until you find what works.  Presentation can be the difference between success and skunked.  With bait, try different approaches, is it better to still fish it, reel now and then, troll it along (steady reeling), or fish the top, or the bottom.  Saturday I was using the same concept (bait/lures) as those fishing around me, but I was the only one having success.  Why?  Because I found the technique the fish liked.  Also, remember your species!  Brown, brook, and tiger trout tend to feed a little more off of the bottom, but at the right time and under great conditions, they love to jump on the right fly. 

The bad part is that most of the day can be spent trying to find what works.  What worked for me was seeing that nobody around me was catching a thing, so I wasn't going to fish the same way for the same results.  Don't be afraid to try something new, just because you always catch fish doing what you have done for years.  I hope these tips were helpful, and do yourself a favor; get out and catch this amazing fish species, the tiger trout!