Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Big browns abundant in Silver Creek

Mouse patterns, night fishing increase chance of success


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Kelli Meril A brown trout falls for a mouse pattern, a large, hairy fly designed to imitate a rodent, in Silver Creek on Monday. Anglers have been having more success than usual in hooking large brown trout, due in part to the increase in the local vole numbers.

Reports of massive brown trout in Silver Creek have been rampant lately, and anglers' success in catching them may be a result of the vole population's spike this year.

"I think there's little doubt that there are some big brown trout that are bulking up on these voles," said Matt Miller, communications director for The Nature Conservancy, which owns Silver Creek Preserve. "It's a lot of protein."

But though the fish might be bulking up, Doug Megargle, fisheries biologist for Idaho Fish and Game's Magic Valley Region, says the increase in vole numbers would not be enough to account for the increasing numbers of the fish.

"The vole explosion, at least to my knowledge, really only came about this summer. I think they certainly enjoyed them," Megargle said, adding that a feeding frenzy would add an inch or two onto the size of a fish.

Most brown trout in the area range from 12 to 14 inches, but Central Idaho Conservation Manager Mark Davidson caught a 28.5 inch brown trout in late August, and Megargle and Miller said they've been hearing numerous reports of big fish being caught by dedicated anglers.

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The 28.5-inch fish's size was likely not caused solely by the vole explosion, Megargle said, as the fish must have been 7 to 9 years old.

"I wouldn't attribute his size only to the vole population," Megargle said. "It took a lot to get him to that size in the first place."

Miller and Megargle agree that anglers using mouse patterns—large, hairy flies that imitate the look of a small rodent in the water—are likely to succeed in catching a brown. This might be a departure for regular Silver Creek anglers, Miller said.

"A lot of us are used to casting very tiny flies on Silver Creek," he said. "It's just a completely different experience."

Fly fishers looking for the best chance to catch a brown trout should try out their mouse patterns at night or before the sun rises, Megargle said, at times when the browns are likely to be feeding.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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