Brook trout of two, three or even four pounds are not uncommon in sections of Canada and Maine today, but fish of this species, which weigh five pounds and more, are hardly numerous. The modern angler is more apt to measure his trout in inches.
The present range of Salvelinus fontinalis in Canada is placed by most authorities as follows: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, northern Ontario and one or two localities in northern Manitoba. The possibility of catching a real trophy trout is best in one of these provinces or in Maine, with the addition of a few waters in the midwestern and western states, such as those bordering on the Great Lakes and in Idaho, Oregon and Montana.
To entice such outsize brook trout to strike, an angler can employ almost any spinning lure, where this kind of fishing is legal. However, fly fishing and trout are practically synonymous words. One pattern that is particularly effective on big brook trout is the Black Ghost streamer fly. The Red and White Bucktail, Mickey Finn, Gray Ghost, Governor Aiken ( Vermont) and others are popular.
It is generally recognized that big fish of any species prefer to lie near the bottom of a pool in a stream or pond. Heavy eastern brook trout follow this course, rising occasionally to take insects from the surface or just below, but more often feeding deep on minnows when these are present. The streamer fly is therefore tied to resemble a minnow.
The fly should be fished deep, near or just off the bottom. The rod should weigh from four to five and a half ounces, as there is considerable resistance to such a bulky fly. The line by all odds should be of silk or of one of the new materials which will sink. Nylon fly lines are excellent for floating dry flies and nymphs, fished just below the surface. The sinking fly requires a line that will carry it down, as weighted flies are illegal in many places. Streamers and bucktails are tied on long-shank hooks, in sizes from big 2s down to smaller 10s. Often the heavier trout will hit a fly of this type best. The cast is made. There is a pause of several minutes to make certain the Black Ghost rests on the bottom, or close to it. Then the rod is lifted smartly and, held in the right hand, it is given an up-and-down jerking motion as the fly line is retrieved with the left hand. The streamer is brought in sharply, then allowed to quiver and breathe, almost stopped. Then the line is jerked again, along with the rod. This is repeated until the lure is in sight near the surface. The casts continue. A big trout may hit at once, or he may have to be teased into striking by persistent and patient fishing.
In clear water, when trout are rising, a small (No. 16 or 20) wet fly finnied on a very fine, long leader and correspondingly lighter tackle, may turn the trick. An all-black hair fly is good, especially in the northeast. Many other standard patterns are used.
Floaters are effective when brook trout are actively feeding on the surface. The Brown Wulff, White Wulff, Yellow and Brown Bivisible are all takers. The Parmachenee Belle, Black Gnat, Light Cahill, Montreal, Yellow May, Hendrickson, Beaverkill are also effective.
In the Province of Nova Scotia some of the sea-run trout will weigh as much as five and six pounds. In many other Atlantic tidal streams similarly heavy trout doubtless are migrating annually.
Recognized Canadian authorities indicate that sea trout in the provinces descend to the ocean in April, May and June, in three groups: "smolts," "kelts" (large trout which have been spawned the previous fall) and immature large trout which are going to the sea for the second time. Tagging indicates that the trout stay in salt water about two months. The majority return to the rivers in July and spawn up-river in October. The trout are silvery in appearance, similar to adult Atlantic salmon, but this coating wears off after some time in fresh water.
Sportsmen who fish in Nova Scotia for sea trout find these wet flies effective: White Admiral, Hemsworth, Butcher and Professor. They are popular in sizes 4 to 8. Dry flies, in sizes 10 to 16, are used by sea trout anglers too, as for example brown and gray Bivisible, Brown Wulff, Royal Coachman and Black Gnat.