Saturday, 16 April 2011

An American Brook Trout in Wales

Back in the 1970s the American brook trout (more correctly brook char) was stocked into a number of fisheries ,including that big trout mecca Avington. Now only two trout farmers produce this fish, and they are only found in a handful of waters across Britain.

My quest took me to Chirk in the county of Wrexham in North Wales. It was Chirk Trout Farm that first imported the brook trout from America, and they are still reared here and stocked into Chirk fishery.
The fishery consists of two clearwater lakes in a scenic welsh valley, stocked with browns, rainbows including golden and blue trout, brook and tiger trout (a hybrid between the brown and brook trout).

I was lucky enough to have the fishery to myself until lunchtime and trout of all varieties could be seen in the clear water. After an unsuccessful hour fishing buzzers and bloodworm imitations I changed over to an intermediate line and my favourite fly, the nomad.
After a couple of small rainbows including a blue (a colour variant) I watched as a brook trout chased and finally grabbed my black nomad. Although only three quarters of a pound in weight it was really quite striking in appearance, the green flanks covered in yellow and red spots, the fins edged with orange and white, and the underside a pale orange.

During the remainder of the day I caught twenty-four trout, all bar two were returned. Most of the fish were around a pound with a handful of larger fish including a beautifully proportioned rainbow of around four pounds.

I could easily have caught thirty, or even forty trout, as I missed loads of takes including a couple of brookies and a particularly strikingly marked tiger. By moving regularly and ringing the changes with both the retrieve and the colour of nomad the takes kept on coming. Only once did I get a follow from a golden trout which unfortunately veered off at the last moment.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day at Chirk and the fishery has a laid back club like feel to it. Although the majority of the fish are small, they are pristine slim fish with huge tails and so fight like demons. The fly life is good and there was a hatch of grannom, however my fly box was replete of dry sedges and I couldn't persuade them to take my alternative selections. Fish were also grubbing on the bottom in the margins, possibly for shrimp.

I had a long conversation with the fishery owner who advised that brook trout were particularly suitable for stocking in acid waters. Although they have grown them to around six pounds in the past, the larger fish become very dark in colour and prone to fungal infections so they only stock brook trout to around a pound and a half.