It was some years ago. It had rained for most of the day. After 4 hours in the confined space of the hiking tent and just when it sounded like it was easing off, it bucketed down again. There are just three positions in a hiking tent, none of them comfortable for long – lying, sitting or kneeling. I’m no yoga guru. We brewed coffee, snacked on energy bars and made the occasional quick excursion to answer a call of nature, returning dripping wet. We had plenty of time to talk, and we did.
The rain showed no sign of letting up – the joys 😉 of camping far up the upland trails on little known streams in backcountry. The conversation turned to our preference for rainbow or brown trout – what, apart from appearance, makes them so different?
We agreed, more or less, that rainbows are generally bad tempered, wary and suspicious, they are aggressive, rapacious and refuse to give in to piscatorial conformity. They tend to hang out in places where they are expected to be, favouring deeper holes and quick water, moving around with a certain boldness and flare, striking viciously, violently at its prey.
Whereas browns have a moodier temperament and are more introspective trout, they shun the predictable. They tend to accept a wider range of conditions, are mysterious and often found in unexpected places, favoring low light conditions, at dusk and somber, misty, rain filled days – times when the light is opaque and uncertain. Browns are skilled predators, persistent hunters, they are patient, brutish and explosive when striking.
When it comes to story telling browns are the stuff of legends.
I told the story of a brown closer to -4 lbs than -3 that I caught one evening in the Maletsunyane River below Semonkong Lodge. “How do you know it was a 4 pounder and not -5 or -6 lbs?”MP asked, like it was some kind of inquisition. “I don’t know, it just felt like 4 lbs or so”, I said. “Sounds like a bit of a guess”, MP replied with a questioning look and raised eyebrows.
The rain stopped, we grabbed our rods for a few casts before the light faded. On his first cast MP took a 10 inch brown, netted it, turned to me, grinned and said, “little fatty, feels like about 4 lbs to me.” We laughed long and hard – there may have been a lesson in there somewhere?
We agreed on one thing, we preferred catching brown trout, especially on dry flies.
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