Meat Hooks: Big-Ass Streamers Smoke Big-Ass Trout
By Sam Lungren / MeatEaters / May 11, 2020
NOTE: The following is excerpted. To begin reading the complete story click here . . .
Ugly Stik fishing rods recently put out a delightfully tone-deaf commercial that portrayed two red-blooded bass fishermen in a little boat, talking about how “hipsters out West are spending all day trying to catch 7-inch trout throwing feathers on little hippie sticks.” Then these actors (very clearly not actual anglers) proceed to easily land a 1-pound largemouth whilst singing the praises of this superior, far more masculine fish.
But to say fly fishing for trout is effete and lame? Respectfully shut the hell up. (Sorry, for you Ugly Stik marketing folks reading this, “effete” means pretentious, feminine, or ineffective. Try to work that in next time.) Anglers from Alaska to Arkansas to Pennsylvania catch 10-pound trout with nearly the same regularity as 10-pound bass. And while it’s occasionally just lucky happenstance (like the 12-pound brown I helped my buddy Ty haul through the ice this winter after it ate a miniscule perch jig), most of folks who regularly stick giant trout are following the same school of thought as big bass hunters nationwide: big fish want big meals.
Kelly Galloup is widely hailed as the godfather of modern trout streamers. He wrote two seminal books on the topic and invented such famous, effective, and meaty patterns as the Sex Dungeon, Pearl Necklace, Barely Legal, Butt Monkey, Peanut Envy, Stacked Blonde, and other equally filthy titled big bugs. Born in Michigan, Galloup now lives in Montana and owns the Slide Inn Fly Shop on the Upper Madison River. He’s spent decades fishing, guiding, floating, snorkeling, and scuba diving here and many other great American rivers trying to better understand big trout and what they eat.
When Galloup talks about trout, he’s mostly talking about Salmo trutta—brown trout to you and me. Sure, his techniques apply to big rainbows, brookies, cutties, and bulls to some degree, but those are merely bycatch. Like most trophy trout hunters nation- and world-wide, he’s pretty focused on browns. And he says that past a certain age and size, brown trout become almost exclusively predatory. Galloup has also doubled as a taxidermist for most of his adult life and has examined the stomach contents of hundreds of big, dead fish. One constant is that those big fish contain big meals, not insects.
“It’s almost impossible to catch a fish that measures 2-feet or longer on bugs. And there’s a lot of studies on this, it’s not just fish talk either. It happens so rarely. I’ve found anything you can imagine. I’ve found squirrels, tons of mice, a blackbird wing. Crayfish parts are almost always in a trout. My buddy found a 36-inch brown floating dead with a 19 ½-inch brown in its mouth. It got it all the way down to the dorsal fin and they both died. Streamers or big lures are basically a prerequisite for big trout in rivers. But there’s a hell of a lot more to it than just slapping around a giant wad of marabou from a driftboat all day.” – – – Kelly Galloup
Featured Image OREGON BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT.