New to brook trout fishing in Virginia? One of the first things you’ll come across is the annual spawning debate. Some say fish, some say don’t. During this time, the extremists don’t even like to think about brookies. Whatever side you fall on, it never hurts to be “in the know”. So, not only do I give a few of my personal thoughts below, I also compiled several articles, links, etc…with comments. Holla’ at your boy (me) with your two cents or if you know of some material to include. As always, enjoy the read!
Watch this video. The narrator is in fact the definition of dry, boring, monotone, purgatory…but, he does a nice, quick, and dirty job explaining how the spawning process works. A few interesting facts about brookies in there too!
Although the video takes place up North, the same applies – in relation to the spawn – to the streams here in VA, and the East Coast in general.
My Personal Take:
Now, may I ask: why should I refrain from fishing during the brook trout spawn?
Well, let’s think of a scenario where we hook a nice brookie. What happens? A hook goes through its mouth (or elsewhere if luck is nonexistent) and the fish freaks. It uses a lot of energy trying to get free. If we land the fish – as we so twistedly desire – we more than likely remove the little guy from the water, or at the very least remove him from the direct current which provides oxygen. The brookie, can’t breath. Think about it, what would it feel like? No oxygen intake immediately after exerting all your strength for survival’s sake. This would be tough on anyone. Add to this situation an already stressed-out spawning fish and it could be deadly.
Additionally, the sight of a giant, heavy-footed, smelly creature (a human, for those who may have missed it) could be quite frightening to a fish. Spooking the fish, could lead to a temporary abandonment of the redd (the nest). Other females may come in and lay their eggs, or more than likely, challenging males may see this as an opportunity to fertilize. The time away from the redd elongates if you hook one of the nesting fish. On top of that, the oxygen-deprived, exhausted fish now has to fight off suitors. Not a pretty sight, amigos. Not a pretty sight.
One more thing, if you’re uneducated to their existence and step on a redd, then it’s game over. Say goodbye to the already slim chance of survival for the next generation of brookies.
Again, why should I refrain from fishing the spawn? In addition to the spawn’s physical and mental drain on the fish, there are three reasons listed above: exhaustion, an unprotected redd, and possible redd destruction.
Personally, if I see fish spawning, I avoid them. I do fish in the Fall before and after the spawn. If you do the same, take great care not to step on the redds. Better yet, avoid stepping in the water at all. Even after spawning takes place, the eggs lay for around 100 days. So, stepping on a redd in February would do the same damage as trampling over them during the Fall.
The following paragraphs present the ideas of either scientists or individuals who live, breath, sleep, and dream fly fishing.
This blog post by Brad Billings is awesome. If you don’t read anything else , READ THIS! He does a nice, unbiased job of presenting the spawning debate with lots of info from people who work in the field. If you choose not to read through it, the gist follows: The author interviews a number of experts on the subject. The conclusion: late Summer fishing, when the water is low and warm appears to be the harmful time to fish for the VA Mountain Brook Trout. Fishing in the Fall is not recommended for inexperienced anglers due to stepping on the redds and rough handling/catch-and-release procedures. However, some argue this point and believe we should leave them alone for the entire Fall period.
*Sorry about the reminder of this post. Editing the spacing proved worthless. Not sure what’s up with it…