I agree with Old Tom, and closer to seven inches is, for me, better than close to nine inches. Truth be told, although it is a non-starter in Park waters, my favorite eating trout are about five inches long (legal in many N. C. state waters). I think browns are slightly inferior, taste-wise, and as Plateau Angler suggests, they have the potential to become big boys. Rainbows don't, at least not in Deep Creek, where browns now rule the roost.
Oddly enough, it hasn't always been that way. When someone caught a brown in the 1950s, it was a matter for comment as opposed to an everyday thing.
Since Ifish4wildtrout is going to be at McCracken Branch, I feel obligated to share one of my favorite "mountain folks" stories. It focuses on a fellow named Britt McCracken, who was a member of the family for whom the branch is named.
He was a quick, witty guy, and at one point in his life he drove a regular bus route between Cherokee and Waynesville, going the old route over Soco and through Maggie Valley. Those of you who know the road will reale that on the Cherokee side of Soco, it is steep and winding.
Britt had a load of Cherokees, all of whom made the trip regularly, along with one "flatlander," a middle-aged lady who was seated immediately behind him. Running a bit late, he was letting it all hang out going down Soco, and the Indians paid the speed no heed. However, within a mile the woman was muttering about him going too fast. He ignored her but she just became more vocal and finally said: "Driver, if you'll stop this bus I'll get off."
Tired of listening to her, Britt replied: "Lady, if I could stop this bus we'd both get off."
Silence reigned supreme the rest of the trip down the mountain.