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  #31  
Old 10-17-2010, 10:27 PM
bias5246 bias5246 is offline
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Thanks for the input! That's what I figured. He looked nothing like any other spec that I've caught. But, he was still a thrilling catch!
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  #32  
Old 10-18-2010, 10:07 AM
ZachMatthews ZachMatthews is offline
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Coloration is a pretty tough thing to judge any fish by in any event.

Here's a large brookie which was unquestionably stocked, as my cousin caught it in the Norfork River in Arkansas:



As you can see it was quite colored up; those fish make a spawning run in the winter time and tend to cluster in certain places around the Dam. I once caught three brookies over 12" in three casts (on an olive Matuka) right at Norfork Dam.

Supposedly your brighter fish with better coloration are that way because of better nutrition. I have heard that fish showing both orange/pink flesh and orange outside colors are eating foods high in beta carotene, especially crustaceans. One reason the browns in Arkansas are always so colorful is the high scud/sowbug content over there.

But I've definitely seen examples of unquestionably wild fish from our eastern forests which were dark and murky looking, despite having good nutrition and size. I think this is natural selection at work: your brighter fish don't last as long.

One more thing: I have been told by qualified biologists, including from the NPS, that the only way to tell Southern Appalachian (native) brookies from their northern brothers is via a complex genetic study. Evidently both fish are so closely related that the individual range of variation for a given fish's "look" overlaps to the point that you can't tell them apart by looking, even if you do things like gill raker counts. This is why it's been very difficult to isolate Southern from Northern fish pretty much across the Southeast (where northern strains were stocked in many places). Thus I'm a little skeptical about calling the fish I catch either "northern" or "southern" strains, no matter where I catch them.

Zach
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  #33  
Old 10-18-2010, 10:21 AM
ZachMatthews ZachMatthews is offline
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Hey guys -

Just for comparison's sake, it might be fun to look at the coloration of different brookies from around the country.


Yellowstone Park


Norfork River, Arkansas


Smokies (Road Prong)


Battenkill tributary, Vermont


North Georgia


Smokies (Deep Creek)


SW Montana


North Carolina


Also North Carolina


As you can see, there's a ton of overlap. The Vermont brookies I caught were the palest but that may have more to do with the particular stream ecology than with the actual strain. Most Western brook trout were stocked from Northern strain brood stock.

Zach
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  #34  
Old 10-18-2010, 12:39 PM
Jim Casada Jim Casada is offline
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kkZach--I think your photos actually confirm what I was saying. Look at the red spots on the fish from the Norfork (stocked) and compare them with those on the remainder of thefish, all of which are almost certainly wild. There's a marked difference.
Jim Casada
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  #35  
Old 10-18-2010, 01:02 PM
ZachMatthews ZachMatthews is offline
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Jim -

I was posting those more with an eye toward the overlap between northern/southern strains than with respect to that West Virginia fish being wild or not. I agree with you on that, especially in that it had such a dark gray underbelly. As you can see from the Norfork fish, even a stocked brookie should be colored up if it's had time to go wild.

The relevant question is probably not whether or not the fish was stocked but rather whether it was *recently* stocked. West Virginia has wild fish that should be colored by the time they are that size if they were born in the river. Likewise, a stocked fish that was stocked small and grew up in the river will also be colored. I think a fish of that size and that generally dark color most probably was a recent stocker (but I'd leave a 10% chance that it was just an unusually dark wild fish).

Zach
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  #36  
Old 10-19-2010, 04:13 PM
Streamhound Streamhound is offline
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ZAch
the way to tell the northern strain from the southern is to play Dixie. If is a southern strain the it will try to stand
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  #37  
Old 10-22-2010, 02:27 PM
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jeffnles1 jeffnles1 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Streamhound View Post
ZAch
the way to tell the northern strain from the southern is to play Dixie. If is a southern strain the it will try to stand
So, that's the trick. Thanks! :-)
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  #38  
Old 10-22-2010, 03:07 PM
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Paula Begley Paula Begley is offline
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Great thread, nice pictures...and now minus a few unnecessary posts. Thanks for contributing, all of you!

Paula
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  #39  
Old 10-22-2010, 08:20 PM
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nvr2L8 nvr2L8 is offline
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Thanks, Madam Administrator. Keepin' it clean.
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