Driftless Trout Anglers

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Smis  
#1 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 1:06:21 PM(UTC)
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Hey everyone,

In a couple of weeks I'm taking my friend fishing and camping and he expressed interest in keeping a few trout to cook up at our camp site. I have no issues with harvesting a few fish where appropriate, but I just catch and release because learning how to catch fish is what I'm most interested in. So any helpful info you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

My plan is to try to get a couple chunky rainbows (4 total) in the 12-15" range. Do you guys have a preference for what kind of trout (rainbow, brown, brook) you eat? I've heard that brook trout are very tasty, but I've never gotten into a very reliable or sizable population of brook trout so I think they are off the table. Conversely, I've heard very mixed reviews on eating brown trout. So I'm thinking bows are the safe bet?

Is there a slot range on size that you find is best for eating?

How long will the fish keep before I need to get them on ice? I plan on eating them that same day but will I need to bring a cooler? I know the logical thing to do is to post up on a bridge or a single productive hole and just try to harvest what I want in short order, but that's not really my style of fishing. Am I being overambitious if I still want to get out for a longer trip out on the river (6ish hours) while carrying my fish?

Hypothetically speaking, if a particular stretch of river has a two fish limit and I've harvested my two fish, is it illegal to continue fishing even if I have no intention of keeping anymore fish? I'm not positive, but I thought I read that that is illegal.

Lastly, what's the best way/most humane way to bleed/kill a fish? Bonking them on the head? Cutting their gills?
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weiliwen  
#2 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 1:47:54 PM(UTC)
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I like rainbow, but honestly have never eaten browns or brookies. if you're going to fry them in a pan over the campfire, a couple 10-12" fish each will be fine - keep the big fish in the stream to make more fish. They sure don't need to be cooked long. I've eaten rainbow to maybe 15 pounds (if you count a steelhead as a rainbow) or maybe 3 pounds as a resident, and they all tasted decent. Me, I'd toss all brookies back, since they are the only native trout in the area (even though their genetics have been jumbled up by well-intentioned fisheries biologists).

I bonk my fish over the head with the nearest rock, and keep them some place cool. If you're going to keep fish for a long time you should really get some sort of creel to protect them. I haven't kept a fish since I left the Pacific Northwest, but back then, I always found some of the ubiquitous ferns and put them in the bottom of my creel to keep air around the fish to dry it. I had friends who would immediately gut a fish they intended to eat and hang it from a nearby shaded tree to dry, saying it kept the flesh firmer. I don't know if that's true, but that's what they said.

I can't speak about fishing after you've reached a limit, but it might not be wise. And anyway, keeping the last two you catch that day means they're fresher.

Lastly, where will you fish? I have only found rainbows in one stream in the Wisconsin part of the Driftless Area, although they are certainly stocked in more than that. They seem to be more common in Iowa, but that's just from what I read; I've never fished Iowa.
Bob Williams, "Weiliwen"
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Smis on 5/2/2019(UTC)
Smis  
#3 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 2:27:26 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: weiliwen Go to Quoted Post
I like rainbow, but honestly have never eaten browns or brookies. if you're going to fry them in a pan over the campfire, a couple 10-12" fish each will be fine - keep the big fish in the stream to make more fish. They sure don't need to be cooked long. I've eaten rainbow to maybe 15 pounds (if you count a steelhead as a rainbow) or maybe 3 pounds as a resident, and they all tasted decent. Me, I'd toss all brookies back, since they are the only native trout in the area (even though their genetics have been jumbled up by well-intentioned fisheries biologists).

I bonk my fish over the head with the nearest rock, and keep them some place cool. If you're going to keep fish for a long time you should really get some sort of creel to protect them. I haven't kept a fish since I left the Pacific Northwest, but back then, I always found some of the ubiquitous ferns and put them in the bottom of my creel to keep air around the fish to dry it. I had friends who would immediately gut a fish they intended to eat and hang it from a nearby shaded tree to dry, saying it kept the flesh firmer. I don't know if that's true, but that's what they said.

I can't speak about fishing after you've reached a limit, but it might not be wise. And anyway, keeping the last two you catch that day means they're fresher.

Lastly, where will you fish? I have only found rainbows in one stream in the Wisconsin part of the Driftless Area, although they are certainly stocked in more than that. They seem to be more common in Iowa, but that's just from what I read; I've never fished Iowa.


Thanks! Yeah I won't be keeping any brook trout, but could be sold on browns. Although bows are still my primary target. Bows where I fish are all stockers from my understanding so I have no qualms taking a few of them, but I'll still put any brood stock fish back.

I did do some research on creels and found a decent one at bass pro shops that I might pull the trigger on now. Hitting them over the head definitely seems like the quickest and most humane way to take a fish, but I also read bleeding a fish is good in order to get the lactic acid out of their bodies and keep it from souring the meat. Any thoughts on this? I guess I'll experiment to see what works best.

Ideally, I would try to hold off on keeping fish as long as possible, but I don't have enough confidence in any particular spot to know I can catch a rainbow there. The places that I know of where there are rainbows that I can harvest are usually pretty spread out and are amongst a much more prevalent brown trout population. So if I get a nice eater rainbow early in the day I don't see myself letting it go.


Greylin  
#4 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 4:20:14 PM(UTC)
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I've eaten plenty of brookies and browns and don't really have a preference. If I keep a trout and plan on eating them later that day I will keep them on a stringer until I'm done fishing that stream and then clean them and place them in a ziploc bag inside a cooler. I've caught fish at the crack of dawn and they still taste awesome at dinner time.

If you are going to be fishing in Wisconsin, it's definitely illegal to catch you limit on a stream and continue to fish even if you intend to catch and release everything. However, if you were fishing a stream that had a limit of 3 you could go fish another stream with a limit of 5 and catch two more.
I live in a van down by the river.
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Smis on 5/2/2019(UTC)
billybigbilly  
#5 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 4:20:21 PM(UTC)
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I have eaten all 3 and to be honest I really never have tasted a difference. I think browns taste good as well as brookies and bows, I have heard stocked fish don't taste as good as wild fish but I can't confirm. On trips where I wade for awhile I will bring along a rubber fish basket and let that drag behind me in the water to keep the fish cool. When it comes to what fish to harvest I wouldn't get to worried about the species I feel that some harvest actually helps the stream by reducing competition and allowing fish to grow past certain size classes. You see many streams are full of cookie cutter browns, taking a few of them wont harm anything and might even help the cookie cutter brown that wasn't harvested to grow bigger, same goes for brookie streams that are just saturated with the same size brookie taking a few wont hurt. Also if the fish is bleeding or doesn't look like it'll make it keep it. Of course if it is a stream where brookies compete with browns why not help the brookies out, but those are just my thought.

My favorite way to cook trout is to get them and wash out the vein along the back bone and then fill the cavity with sliced garlic and lemon. I melt some butter and some olive oil in the pan and add garlic to it to and fry the fish on both sides untill the skin is crispy and the meat is white and firm and easily comes off the bone. It's one of the only ways I'll eat fish!

And if the bag limit is two I'm pretty sure once you have two fish in possession you have to stop fishing, at least in MN but I don't know about Wisconsin

Hope this helps!
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Smis on 5/2/2019(UTC)
NBrevitz  
#6 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 7:09:37 PM(UTC)
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I’ve eaten all 3, Brookies are the best but I try to only harvest small Brook Trout from streams with a lot of them. Browns are just fine, don’t let Mark tell you any different😂 Rainbows are good as well, I prefer when they’ve been in the river a while, but stockers fry up just fine.

It varies from stream to stream and obviously regs, but these are my general guidelines. I like to let bigger fish reproduce and keep good genetics in the stream, especially with Brook Trout. Even though Rainbows can’t reproduce in most streams, holdover Rainbows fight like hell and I generally let them go. Brooders id just whack, they rarely holdover in streams and have been stocked because they’re nearing the end of their life and are of no use to the hatchery they came from.
In general..
Brook: 7-10 inches
Brown: 8-13 inches
Rainbow: 7-12 inches
Tiger: For the love of god just let it go

For small fish, you can whack them on the head, then *immediately* cut through one gill. This is what I do with Salmon. Let the fish bleed out a bit, then gut them. Start at the anal pore and work your knife just under the skin up to the pectoral fins. Then cut through the slit under the gills, pull down, and the guts will all come out at once. Scrape out the bloodline along the spine (their kidneys) and place the fish in the creel with some wet grass or moss. I also put coldpacks in my creel, it keeps your drinks and fish cold. Soak the creel in river water periodically, the evaporation will help cool the fish.
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
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Smis on 5/2/2019(UTC)
Smis  
#7 Posted : Thursday, May 2, 2019 8:19:25 PM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: NBrevitz Go to Quoted Post
I’ve eaten all 3, Brookies are the best but I try to only harvest small Brook Trout from streams with a lot of them. Browns are just fine, don’t let Mark tell you any different😂 Rainbows are good as well, I prefer when they’ve been in the river a while, but stockers fry up just fine.

It varies from stream to stream and obviously regs, but these are my general guidelines. I like to let bigger fish reproduce and keep good genetics in the stream, especially with Brook Trout. Even though Rainbows can’t reproduce in most streams, holdover Rainbows fight like hell and I generally let them go. Brooders id just whack, they rarely holdover in streams and have been stocked because they’re nearing the end of their life and are of no use to the hatchery they came from.
In general..
Brook: 7-10 inches
Brown: 8-13 inches
Rainbow: 7-12 inches
Tiger: For the love of god just let it go

For small fish, you can whack them on the head, then *immediately* cut through one gill. This is what I do with Salmon. Let the fish bleed out a bit, then gut them. Start at the anal pore and work your knife just under the skin up to the pectoral fins. Then cut through the slit under the gills, pull down, and the guts will all come out at once. Scrape out the bloodline along the spine (their kidneys) and place the fish in the creel with some wet grass or moss. I also put coldpacks in my creel, it keeps your drinks and fish cold. Soak the creel in river water periodically, the evaporation will help cool the fish.


Great tips, thanks! That's interesting what you said about brood stock fish, but it makes sense. I've only caught one brood stock rainbow, but it fits your description. After I set the hook it just held near the bottom for a moment before quickly going belly up. A rather uninspired fight for a fat 19" fish.
stan b  
#8 Posted : Friday, May 3, 2019 11:59:22 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: NBrevitz Go to Quoted Post
I’ve eaten all 3, Brookies are the best but I try to only harvest small Brook Trout from streams with a lot of them. Browns are just fine, don’t let Mark tell you any different😂 Rainbows are good as well, I prefer when they’ve been in the river a while, but stockers fry up just fine.

It varies from stream to stream and obviously regs, but these are my general guidelines. I like to let bigger fish reproduce and keep good genetics in the stream, especially with Brook Trout. Even though Rainbows can’t reproduce in most streams, holdover Rainbows fight like hell and I generally let them go. Brooders id just whack, they rarely holdover in streams and have been stocked because they’re nearing the end of their life and are of no use to the hatchery they came from.
In general..
Brook: 7-10 inches
Brown: 8-13 inches
Rainbow: 7-12 inches
Tiger: For the love of god just let it go

For small fish, you can whack them on the head, then *immediately* cut through one gill. This is what I do with Salmon. Let the fish bleed out a bit, then gut them. Start at the anal pore and work your knife just under the skin up to the pectoral fins. Then cut through the slit under the gills, pull down, and the guts will all come out at once. Scrape out the bloodline along the spine (their kidneys) and place the fish in the creel with some wet grass or moss. I also put coldpacks in my creel, it keeps your drinks and fish cold. Soak the creel in river water periodically, the evaporation will help cool the fish.


Smoked Steelhead is the best eating!

Stan b
"So what is big is not always the Trout nor the Deer but the chance, the being there. And what is full is not necessarily the creel nor the freezer, but the memory." ~ Aldo Leopold
Mark Dahlquist  
#9 Posted : Friday, May 3, 2019 4:21:03 PM(UTC)
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I like brooks. I don't eat browns unless I know the stream has tasty ones. Some streams browns are awesome and others not so good. Rainbows are there to eat so eat them if you like trout.

My preference is to do what Nick did then when you get home or back to camp brine with 1/4 cup of canning salt and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Then cook on the grill medium to medium low heat. I don't even tinfoil.
-Mark
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NBrevitz  
#10 Posted : Friday, May 3, 2019 9:29:35 PM(UTC)
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^
Mark does have a point, if you catch Browns out of a lower quality stream (muddy, slow, warm), they don’t taste nearly as good.

Browns out of small spring creeks are very good.
"I fish because I love to: Because only in the woods can I find solitude without loneliness."
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