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Let spawning browns lie

Quality browns get aggressive in the fall. This one was caught about a month ago, long before the spawn.
Quality browns get aggressive in the fall. This one was caught about a month ago, long before the spawn.
Photos by Brian La Rue

Yes, it is spawning season for brown trout on your local river. Every fall brings big fish out of hiding, but either fish for them before the spawn or after it, let spawning browns lie. This is a question of morals, ethics and etiquette.

Here are some generals rules that will not only help the trout population, but will also keep you out of trouble with fellow anglers.

Rule 1: Leaving spawners alone. These fish are together with a mate actively spawning. How would you like to be bothered when enjoying a private moment with your significant other? These fish are there to spawn, helping continue the life cycle and the last thing on their mind is eating. Some anglers snag these fish in hopes of "catching" a big fall brownie.

Rule 2: Leave redd fish alone and avoid wading in an area that shows signs of redds. Sometimes either the male or female will set on the redds prior to spawning or just after. If the area has been cleaned and a fish is setting on this oval area, leave it alone. It could be protecting eggs or still working on clearing the redd. After the spawn, redds will show as cleaner, white areas with lighter color than the rest of the streambed. Do not wade through these spots as these areas hold the river's future generations.

Rule 3: Practice catch and release, even on a trophy fish of a lifetime. Yes, I mean that 28-inch rainbow you might just catch in the fall. Take photos and measurements because all you need are a fishes' specs to have a taxidermist recreate your catch. Bigger fish need to be released to pass on their genes. Big fish are typically not good eating either, so why waste a trophy that you could possibly catch a year later when it grows even bigger.