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Doc Trout's frequently asked questions blog

How Does Water Temperature and Barometric Pressure Affect Trout Feeding Behavior?

By Doc Trout


     Because Trout are a cold blooded fish species, their metabolic rate is controlled by the ambient water temperature which is in turn affected by the ambient air temperature and the amount of direct sunlight reaching the bottom of the stream. Thus, trout are dormant in cold water but become more active as the Sun warms both the surrounding air as well as the streambed. In fact, in water temperatures below 45 degrees, Trout enter a state of torpor similar ti hibernation in which their metabolic rate drastically slows and thus, they very seldom feed in waters with an ambient water temperature below 45 degrees. However, as the water warms, a Trout's metabolic rate also starts to increase and thus, not only do they become more active, they are also more inclined to feed and this trend continues until the water reaches and ambient temperature of sixty-five degrees; at which point their metabolic rate reaches the point where it requires more dissolved oxygen in the water than the water is capable of holding. Therefore, Trout generally cease to feed in water temperatures above sixty-five degrees and start to suffocated in water temperatures of seventy degrees and above.


     In addition, Trout also have an internal organ called a Swim Bladder which they can inflate or deflate at will in order to suspend themselves in the water column. Thus, because the Earth's atmosphere has mass and thus, it also has gravity, it exerts pressure on the surface of any exposed body of water which in turn either increases or decreases the water pressure. Therefore, Trout feel even minute changes in barometric pressure as and increase or decrease in pressure on their swim bladders. Thus, Trout tend to stop feeding when the barometric pressure reaches either the low extreme (28.5 inHg) or the high extreme (30.5 inHg). Also, they seem to have a distinct preference for feeding avidly when the barometric pressure is falling and are distinctly less inclined to feed when the barometric pressure is rising. So, expect normal fishing when the weather is stable, distinctly better fishing when the skies are becoming cloudy, slightly worse fishing when the skies are clearing, and the worst fishing when the skies are sunny and the barometric pressure is high.


Freshwater vs. Saltwater Fly Line Weights; how do they equate?

By Doc Trout


     For over two years now, I have been searching for a definitive article on the Web that would tell me how to equate freshwater fly line weights to saltwater line weights but, since I was unable to find any such article, I decided to research the subject and write my own article.


     Now, most anyone who has spent any time at all gazing at a fly rod manufacturer's catalog is undoubtedly aware that freshwater fly rods are normally available in weights 1 through 6 while saltwater fly rods are normally available in weights 6 through 14.  Also, most fly fishermen are aware that the larger the number is, the heavier the fly line is and thus, the larger sized fly it can cast. But, how do you equate freshwater fly line weights to saltwater fly line weights? Well, the answer to that question is the culmination of several months of ferreting out and assembling various tidbits of information. For instance, I read a post on one forum from a fellow who stated that he used a 10 weight for everything "even though it was a bit heavy for some of the smaller species". Also, I noticed that when looking at fly fishing catalogs, the 9ft. 9wt. fly rod always seems to be the best seller. So, after a bit of pondering, I realized that these two saltwater line weights were starting to sound an awful lot like a freshwater 6wt. and a 5wt. Then, I was pursing the Batson Enterprises web site one night when the final piece of evidence clicked into place and I was FINALLY able to fully and confidently equate freshwater fly line sizes to saltwater fly line sizes and thus, I have created the following chart FYI:



Fresh Water Fly Line Size                                    Saltwater Fly Line Size

2 wt.                                        =                           6 wt.

3 wt.                                        =                           7 wt.

4 wt.                                        =                           8 wt.

5 wt.                                        =                           9 wt.

  6 wt.                                        =                           10 wt.



     Therefore, choosing a 6 wt. fly rod for saltwater use is like choosing a 2 wt. fly rod for freshwater use because both fly line weights (and thus both fly rods) would be considered ultralights for their respective genres but would also deliver extra delicate presentations. On the other hand, choosing a 10 wt. fly rod for saltwater use is like choosing a 6 wt. fly rod for fresh water use knowing that by moving to a heavier fly line, you will be sacrificing delicacy of presentation for casting distance and fighting power.

     So, although this chart was intended for freshwater fly fishermen who are looking for a saltwater equivalent to their freshwater fly rods, the chart also works in reverse for saltwater fly fishermen who are looking for a freshwater equivalent to their saltwater fly rods.



Is Trout Season Closed During the Month of March?

By Doc Trout


     In my capacity as a fly fishing guide, I am often asked if Trout season here in North Carolina is closed during the month of March. The answer to that question is that while trout season is closed from the end of February to the first weekend in April on Hatchery Supported waters, it is open year-round on both Delayed Harvest and Wild waters. Thus, western North Carolina has great trout fishing available all year.



PS.  For more detailed information on North Carolina trout fishing regulations, please view the N.C. Regulations for Trout Fishing page located in the "N.C. Trout Regulations" section of this web site.


How Do I Choose a Small Steam Fly Rod?

By Doc Trout


     In order to choose the proper size fly rod for small stream use, you need to choose an action that loads easily over the range at which you will be fishing and that is short or long enough  to cast the fly line over the appropriate distance at which you will be fishing most often. Consequently, when choosing a small-stream fly rod, first ask yourself "what is the shortest cast that I am likely to have to make on a regular basis?" and then choose your rod's action accordingly. Then, ask yourself "what is the longest cast that I am likely to have to make on a regular basis?" and choose your rod's length accordingly. Now, obviously this leads us to a the question of what action and length is appropriate for a particular size stream and while the choice is ultimately up to the angler, I would like to make the following suggestions: for casting at a range of 10 to 30 ft., choose a full-flex action and for casting at a range of 25 to 40 ft. choose a mid-flex action. Also, when casting at a range of 5 to 15 feet, use a rod that is 5 1/2 ft. to 6 1/2 ft.; when casting at a range of 10 ft. to 25 ft., use a 7 ft. rod; when casting at a range of 20 ft. to 35 ft., choose a rod that is 7 ft. 9 in.; and when casting at a range of 25 ft. to 40 ft., use an 8 1/2 ft. rod; and for casts over 40 ft., use a 9 ft. rod. Also, it is particularly important to note that when fly fishing on a small stream, it is far easier to make precision casts at short range with a short rod having a slow to medium action. In addition, keep in mind that it is far easier to maneuver a short rod through and cast underneath any streamside foliage.


PS.  For more detailed informaiton on this subject, please see my article "How to Choose a Small Stream Fly Rod" located in the Fly Fishing Articles section of this web site.



List of currently available, small-stream specific, fly rods:

Winston WT Trout series -                                           $750.00

Sage ZFL series -                                                        $675.00 - $695.00

G. Loomis Whisper Creek GLX series -                   $610.00 - $655.00

TXL-F series -                                                              $625.00

March Brown Hidden Waters series -                       $498.00

Orvis Superfine Touch series -                                   $495.00

Scott A4 series -                                                          $375.00

St. Croix Avid series -                                                  $230.00 - $280.00

Cortland Brook series -                                               $189.00 - $199.00

Temple Fork Outfitters Finesse Series -                   $189.00

Redington Classic Trout series -                                $149.00 - $169.00


What is the Difference Between a Trout and a Char?

By Doc Trout


     Trout is the name for a number of species of freshwater and saltwater fish belonging to the Salmoninae subfamily of the family Salmonidae. However, some fish, such as the Spotted Sea Trout, are not actually part of the Salmonidae family even though they are called Trout. On the other hand, Salmon do belong to the same family as Trout (Salmonidae) even though they are not called Trout. In fact, the name Trout is commonly used for some species of fish in three of the seven genera in the subfamily Salmoninae and they are: Salmo, Atlantic genus; Oncorhynchus, Pacific genus; and Salvelinus, Char or Charr genus. Therefore, although Rainbow Trout (Salmoninae Oncorhynchus mykiss), Brown Trout (Salmoninae Salmo Trutta), and Brook Trout (Salmoninae Salvelinus fontinali) are all members of the Salmoninae subfamily, they each belong to a different genus and species. Consequently, although all three fish are categorized as Salmon, Brown Trout are members of the Atlantic Salmon genus, whereas Rainbow Trout are members of the Pacific Salmon genus, and Brook Trout are members of the Char genus.


Brown Trout, Salmoninae Salmo trutta (Trout) -

     The Brown Trout (Salmo trutta morpha fario and Salmo trutta morpha lacustris) and the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo trutta morpha trutta) are all members of the same genus but each are members of  different species. They are distinguished chiefly by the fact that the Brown Trout is largely a freshwater fish, while the Atlantic Salmon (also called an Atlantic Steelhead) demonstrates anadromous reproduction;, migrating to the oceans for much of its life and then returning to freshwater to spawn. In addition, Atlantic Salmon in the UK and Ireland are know by many regional names such as "Wewin" in Wales, "Finnock" in Scotland, "Peal" in western England,  Mort in north west England, and "White Trout" in Ireland. In addition, the lacustrine morph of  Brown Trout is usually potamodromous, meaning that it migrates from lakes (instead of the ocean) into rivers or streams to spawn although, there is some evidence of populations that spawn on the wind-swept shorelines of large lakes. On the other hand, Salmo trutta morpha fario typically form resident populations in alpine streams but sometimes use large rivers as well. In addition, there is some evidence that anadromous and non-anadromous morphs coexisting in the same river can be genetically identical. Consequently, the name "Brown Trout" is often applied indiscriminately to the various morphs even though they are of a different species.


Rainbow Trout - Salmoinae Oncorhynchus mykiss (Trout) -

      The Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) is a species of Salmonid native to tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in both Asia and North America. Therefore, the Pacific Steelhead is a sea run Rainbow Trout (anadromous) that usually returns to a freshwater stream to spawn after 2 to 3 years at sea. In fact, Rainbow Trout are so popular that they have been introduced for food or sport to at least 45 countries on every continent except Antarctica. However, in some locations such as Europe, Australia, and South America, Rainbow Trout have had a detrimental effect on the native upland species by either consuming them as food or competing with them for the other available food sources. In addition, they have  been known to transmit diseases such as Whirling Disease to native fish which have no natural immunity via evolution and they have been known to hybridize with closely related species and subspecies.


Brook Trout, Salmoninae Salvelinus fontinali (Char) -

     The Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinali, (which is sometimes called the Eastern Brook Trout) is a member of the Salmon family of the order Salmoniformes. But, since it is of a different genus and species from other Salmoniformes, it is not actually a Trout but is instead a Char or Charr.  In addition, there is another Char called a Speckled Trout that, while closely related to the Brook Trout, displays some slight anatomical differences which lead some biologist to believe that it is actually a different species altogether or at least a sub-species of Brook Trout. Hence, both Brook Trout and Speckled Trout are sometimes called "Square Tails" in some parts of the country. In addition, there is a potamodromous population of Brook Trout living in Lake Superior that are known locally as Coaster Trout or simply as Coasters. In addition, there are two other species of Salmoniformes that are commonly called Trout but which are actually Chars and they are the Lake Trout and the Dolly Varden Trout. Thus, while a Char is similar to a Trout in that they are both Salmoniformes, Chars differ from Trout in that they are members of a different genus and species.


     Therefore, when asked what the difference is between a Trout and a Char, the short answer is that while both fish are Salmon, Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout are members of the Atlantic and Pacific Salmon genera whereas Brook Trout are members of the Char genus and thus Brook Trout are not actually Trout at all.

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