Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lake-run brown trout near Lake Geneva

Switzerland is not good to its rivers. Armored banks, flow disruptions, and cows everywhere. But there are still some fish, and it's the time of year for the best of the bunch.

I'm on the lookout for Salmo trutta lacrustis, the lake form of brown trout. They spawn in rivers, move down to a lake (like Lake Geneva) and then come home again to spawn as BIG adults. They act like salmon, and they can be as big as salmon.

Caught in 1926 in Switzerland's Lake Maggiore, this near-record lake-run brown trout (left) was 31 kg (68 pounds)! Unverified catches have been reported up to 41 kg (92 pounds), or perhaps bigger, up to 50 kg.

Lake Geneva brown trout were mentioned by Izaak Walton in his classic The Compleat Angler, and it's the right time of year to see some of the big adults coming upstream to spawn.

I'm been prowling the Promenthouse for the last 2 weeks, and yesterday I was led by Susan Brown to the Aubonne River (top right) for a better chance of seeing these great fish.

The Aubonne River was too high for jumping brown trout, last week's snow and rain the last two days had combined for high water. We did see some BIG fish milling around the base of the dam and the bottom of the fish ladder. Enough to pique my interest. I'll keep watching as the flows recede, although tomorrow's rain forecast could charge up the flows again.

The Aubonne River photo above right is where the river goes over a small dam, and it's good fish-watching because it's bad for fish. They pummel themselves against the structure, with about zero chance of success. There is a fish ladder around the dam, but it looks like a bad design and the fish don't seem to be very attracted to it.

These are the same fish we planted in local streams a couple of months ago. But I also hope to find some evidence of wild spawning.