Why fall is the best season for catching and admiring brook and brown trout

A photo of a brown trout caught in Utah during the fall. Autumn is when the male species change colors during the spawning season.

A photo of a brown trout caught in Utah during the fall. Autumn is when the male species change colors during the spawning season. (Robert Williamson)


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Autumn is a favorite season for most Utah residents. After a typical hot summer, the coolness of fall is a refreshing respite from the heat.

Residents and visitors to Utah seek out the colorful foliage in the autumn months. Drives through Nebo and Alpine loops, as well as other canyon roads, provide beautiful views of the changing leaves.

A lesser-known color-changing phenomenon also takes place in the fall. Anglers who keep their fishing gear ready can witness the landscape matching colors of two species of fish: the brown and brook trout.

Brown and brook trout are fall spawners, and the males of both species will take on deep bright colors as they get closer to the spawning stage. Male brown trout will take on a rich butter-colored belly with darkening red spots, whereas male brook trout will turn deep orange on the bellies with red spots in blue halos on their sides. The vivid color seems at odds with the usual camouflaged colors Mother Nature provides trout.

While brown and brook trout are not native to Utah waters — both were introduced shortly before 1900 — they are considered wild fish as they naturally reproduce in many of the waters where they are found. The brook trout is really a char genus more related to arctic char and lake trout.

Both species tend to overpopulate and in many waters become stunted for their year class, as noted by Feild & Stream. Keeping a limit is advisable, and both have great tasting flavor when taken care of and prepared right.

Right now and through the month of October is a great time to pursue these fish. As they prepare for the spawn, they can become aggressive feeders.

For brown trout, try most of the local streams and rivers. Flies, lures and natural baits like a worm are good to use. Brook trout are found in some creeks and streams, but the best opportunity is in many of the Uinta lakes. The same flies, lures and bait will work for brook trout.

Watch the weather reports as the high elevation lakes can receive snow at any time.

And as always, be sure to check the fishing regulations for limits and restrictions on the waters you plan to fish.

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