Trout Hunter In Wisconsin the magical length of a small stream brown trout to be considered big is twenty inches.. The native species for Wisconsin is the brook trout. The big mark for a brook trout is fourteen inches. There are a few rainbows in the inland waters but they are all released brood stock from the hatchery. The bows vary in size from fourteen to twenty eight inches. If you truly want to be considered a Trout Hunter these are the lengths that are your bench marks. A Trout Hunter is an angler that consistently catch trout in the above listed measurements. The angler is NOT a one hit wonder. A pattern needs to be proven to be given the title of "Trout Hunter." Lots of people target big trout but that is it. They just target them and not catch them. Most large trout are very bashful about showing themselves in bright sun light. They feed during the night or during low light hours. Low light hours are the break of dawn and just before dark.. This massive male brown was fooled after dark with a hex emerger pattern. You and I fish streams that have giants living in them and we don't even know it. Many of the well fished bridges on your favorite trout stream have eye popping behemoths under them. Just last fall I was talking to a landowner and he told me the DNR had shocked his tiny stream that ran through his land. 2 seasons ago. The landowner walked the entire trip with the shocking crew. Most of the fish coming up were brook trout. Some were in the 14 inch range. There was a small smattering of browns in the stretch also. The stream was 3-4 feet deep in most places and crystal clear. At the end of the shocking run the DNR decided to shock under the bridge they were getting out at. The depth under the bridge was only about 2 feet deep. There was some cement base abutments under the bridge. The land owner told me he witnessed a 26 inch male brown be shocked out from a big chunk of cement. It was 2 years prior. There was only one bridge on his waterway so I fished and fished it hard.. I spent 3 hours above and below the bridge . I took special care to run presentations under the bridge near the cement structure. No one appeared home. I walked in the water and poke my net handle under a big piece of cement. My face was almost at eye level. It shot right out directly under my nose. It was at minimum 26 inches and a male brown. I left the trout for another day when the light might be more appealing for the monster. A friend and I hit the water at 40 minutes before light. I told him about the monster under the bridge. I made sure he had the proper tools for the job. He had a 9 foot 5/6 weight rod with 6 weight fly line on. He put on a new 2X leader . We decided something big was the way to go. James put on a size 8 bead headed bugger. It was black in color with red flash in the body and the tail. I call it a bloody bugger. We enter far downstream of the bridge and carefully walked the bank "not in the water." When you are stalking a big trout you should stay out of the water if possible. The smaller trout will typically spook upstream and warn the big dog. You must know your casting abilities. A badly placed cast when you are after a big trout is a fatal error. We got to the outside reaches of James' casting ability. I told him I wanted him to shot it three quarters of the way under the bridge. James asked why we didn't fish the water directly in front of us. I told James that the big one under the bridge was already in his day time hiding spot. If we fished directly in front of us and we caught a little one, the big trout would be alarmed. I told him we had maybe 5-6 casts to fool this fish. James slowly centered himself in the water and casted. His first offering hit the bridge and fell with a plop downstream of where I wanted him to cast. The second cast was almost perfect. We had discussed prior that if he hooked that big fish it was going to hunker down and go deep and run upstream. I told James earlier he was going to have to muscle the trout to get it under control right away. James began his stripping of the bugger just like he nymph fished. There was a swirl in the water near James line and I yelled bite. James set the hook hard and the resident of the bridge did something I had never seen a big brown do. It skied immediately. It was at least 3 feet out of the water and shaking its head violently. It landed with a huge splash. I thought it was all over but the crying. I had James strip in is line. The line was limp with no resistance. I saw a wake coming our way. I yelled at James to strip as fast as he could. I slipped in to the water to block the fish. The fish turned and went back towards the bridge. It was doing the opposite of what I thought it was going to do. James got the fish back on the reel and we fought it for quite some time. I carefully netted the trout for James.. This massive brown was caught on the second cast of the day. You hear many anglers talking about the 20~20 club. It is hooking and landing a 20 inch brown On a size 20 fly or smaller. What they usually leave out is the that fish was battled for an extended amount time due to the small hook gauge . Any serious pressure put on a big trout with a size 20 fly will result in the fly coming out. This 20~20 club may be a big ego boast for the angler that caught the trout but it will almost definitely result in the trout dying at a later time due to an excessive build up of lactic acid due to the extended battle required to land it. Use the right tool for the job. A size 20 fly is not the correct tool for the job. Most big trout won't even chase such a small offering unless it is almost beaten on the head with it. Big Trout are carnivores. Their diet is usually huge bugs and other fish smaller than them . Large leeches and the occasional mouse if it gets too close. If you are using spinning gear the same rules apply. Low light conditions and size up those rods and reels. Those 5 foot long ultra lights should be left at home. Get out your 6' 6" walleye rig and put eight pound clear trilene on it. Throw big spinners and big plugs. Get that trout to shore as quickly as possible if you plan on releasing it. Try to avoid that lactic acid build up. This nice male was caught on a panther martin. It was tucked tightly under a cut bank. Another method that has worked well for Trout Hunting is the down stream dredge. You put a cone headed turkey leech on your rod and place yourself upstream of a log jam. Extra weight is required about 12 inch above the fly to get it down properly. You feed the fly downstream 10-15 above the jam and let it get way down before you let it search the depths under that log jam for its docile resident. You must have heavy line and be willing to lose a couple flies in the dredging actions. You feed it under and slowly bounce it back upstream and let it go under again and repeat the process. This behemoth came out from under a large down tree. The fly was fished downstream with extra weight. This type of fishing can be done with a spinning rig also. Size 8 eagle claw with a small split shot about 9 inches up. Make sure you use clear line. Not clear blue line. You put a big night crawler on. Just hook it once through the collar so it looks real. You bounce that crawler down stream under cover and wait for the hits. This methods is killer for big browns. But the only draw back is if you fish with worms like this, you will probably be taking that trout home with you. This male brown was under that structure in fore ground of the photo. It was fished downstream and muscled out of the snag. Are you a Trout Hunter?