Searching for a trophy trout
Jason Webster
  Prologue: Here's a familiar scenario. You hear about a guy who caught a 12 pounder last weekend at Lake X? But when you go to fish the same lake, you never see one caught, never mind catch one yourself? You wonder if the size of the legendary fish was 6 pounds, not 12!
  Fishermen do exaggerate a bit. Or maybe the story was made up? Are there really any small lakes out there that host trout more than ten pounds? I was one of those people who believed that a double-digit rainbow was nearly impossible to come by unless I took a trip to one of the bigger lakes or rivers. Well, now I know they exist in small lakes as well, and in more lakes than you might think! If you are a Stillwater fisherman who wants to catch a trophy trout and likes fishing the smaller, more intimate lakes, then the Okanagan should be your fishing destination.
  For now just forget all the stuff you have read on how to be a better fisherman: things like watching out for insect hatches, what fly to use and when, where and how to use it. Here is an article to help you catch a trophy trout before you even get on the water.
  I have been involved with various fisheries projects in the Okanagan region now for more than ten years, working with regional biologists on creating trophy fisheries and in the process, assessing various lakes for the potential to provide anglers with a chance to catch large trout. Since around 1996, I have witnessed 10 double-digit rainbow occurrences, three of which have luckily been my own.
  Now, I have decided not to give a list of lake names and risk death threats from local anglers for giving away their secret fishing hole. Instead, I have decided to list some helpful hints that you should implement when seeking out that lake with special potential for large trophy trout.
  1) Stay Low - Not always, but more often than not, the more productive lakes in the Okanagan are lower elevation lakes, less than 3500 feet. TDS (total dissolved solids) are a good indication of the lakes productivity. The lower elevation lakes tend to have a higher T.D.S. due to warmer conditions and drainage factors. The growing season is usually longer in lower elevation lakes also. A longer "ice-off" period gives the trout more time to pack on the weight.
  2) Look for lakes with plenty of shoal area or shallow water combined with deep holes - shoal area being 20 feet or less. Most aquatic insects prefer shallow water to hang out in. The more insects, the bigger the fish.
  3) Check the fishing regulations - Clues to trophy fisheries are often supplied in the fishing synopsis. When looking through the regional breakdown of lakes with special restrictions, keep an eye open for the lakes with a catch and release fishery only, or lakes with a one or two fish limit. Lake aeration warnings are also a good indication that the fisheries branch has something good going in that particular lake and they want to keep it alive and
  4) Check out the annual stocking records - there are a few spots where you can look at a lakes stocking records. The Internet is one and various publications on Interior lakes show stocking records as well. The language used by BC Fisheries in stocking records is quite complex. Key indicators that you should look out for when seeking big fish include: FV (Fraser Valley) - This type of rainbow strain grow very fast, gets very fat and in the right conditions, easily breaks the 10 pound barrier. A warning however, the Fraser Valley strain is often used by BC fisheries to stock lakes that winterkill annually, so make sure your choice is not one of those lakes. AF (All Female) - All female fish are "created" at hatcheries by combining the milt of special XX chromosome males with eggs. By creating a fishery with all female trout, the lake will be void of the stunted, darker colored precocious male fish that occur in most lakes. 3N (triploid or sterile trout) - BC hatcheries also create sterile trout by heat or pressure shocking eggs shortly after fertilization. A trout that doesn’t spend energy on developing functional sexual organs will grow larger and longer in theory. A lake stocked with trout that are sterile and all female is especially good to look for when choosing your trophy lake.
  5) Local Knowledge - Even though most locals or fishing storeowners may be reluctant to give away their secret big-fish lake, it wouldn’t hurt to ask them where the large fish hang out. A quick, to-the-point phone call to the local government fisheries biologist could lead you in the right direction as well. He or she is a person who knows all about large trout fisheries in their region.
  Once you have made your decision, and get to your chosen lake, the fun part of fulfilling your goal to catch a lunker begins. This time, however, thanks to your careful selection of a lake with that special potential, you are certain that your trophy is there to be caught.

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The Steelheader is a Canadian sport fishing tabloid devoted to sport fishing here in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Steelheader News has subscribers throughout Canada and the United States. Subscriptions to overseas areas are available upon request.In addition to subscriptions, the Steelheader's distribution points include over 400 sites in the Fraser Valley (B.C.) and tackle shops in Canadian provinces and the United States.
Terry Hanson
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