Certain species of trout, brown and brook trout in particular, spawn in the fall. October and November are the heavy spawning months. Many anglers consider it unethical to target these species during the spawn; they’ve got enough obstacles in their way as it is.
It’s important to understand spawning behaviors and habitat to avoid compromising the process.
First, check the water temperature. Between September and December, water temps dropping to the mid 40’s will trigger the spawn and should be the first indicator for you to keep an eye out.
When females prepare to spawn, they will move into shallow water and find a rocky, gravel bottom. Brown trout are known for choosing areas near or below tributaries. Brookies, especially in high elevation streams, will find bigger, slow/still water pools with gravel bottoms.
Once a female has found her redd (what we call her spawning bed), she will clear it of debris, sediment, and silt, creating an ideal bedding for her eggs. For a successful hatch, the eggs need to be protected from current and debris, and need to receive adequate amounts of oxygen.
Males, on the other hand, are vibrantly colored up and in steady competition. Once they’ve found a potential partner, they will fend off other males to secure their opportunity to procreate. When two fish have paired, the male will defend his redd ferociously. You’ll notice the aggressive behavior of the male towards any other fish that encroach on his territory.
Redds will stand out as lighter sections of the bottom, a result of the incessant cleaning of the female. Typically, where you see one redd, you will see many more. Observe the behavior of any resident fish. Females will hover over her nest, males will dart in and out fending off intruders.
The spawn is the most stressful time in a trout’s life, so it’s best not to target spawning fish and allow them to naturally reproduce. Be mindful of where you step during the spawning season. Stepping on a redd can vanquish hundreds and potentially thousands of eggs. Keep your eyes peeled, and be mindful how you navigate a stream during the spawn.
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