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For the first time ever, fisheries biologists have documented natural reproduction of brown trout in Oklahoma. As with rainbow trout, the discovery was made in the Lower Mountain Fork River trout fishery below Broken Bow Lake.
"Anglers on the Lower Mountain Fork River have been catching young brown trout that were not stocked," said Jeff Boxrucker, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. "We can tell because of the age and size of the fish being caught. The brown trout that we stock are bigger than some of the young fish being caught." The Wildlife Department first stocked the Lower Mountain Fork River with trout almost 20 years ago. Since that time the 12-mile designated trout stream has seen many habitat improvements, among them the renovation of the Evening Hole and Lost Creek areas that are now providing fishing opportunities to anglers. Additionally, thanks to the efforts of Oklahomaıs congressional delegation, the U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act in 1996 to ensure that cool water from Broken Bow Lake is released throughout the year to sustain the trout fishery. "The natural reproduction of both rainbow trout in 2006 and now brown trout in the Lower Mountain Fork River are prime examples of what happens when people come together for cooperative habitat initiatives," Boxrucker said. "We could have never completed these efforts nor seen these milestones in trout management without generous donations, support and effort from several trout clubs in Oklahoma and Texas. This is exciting news, but just like when the naturally reproduced rainbow trout were documented, we donıt know if this is a one-time thing or if reproduction will occur each year. Hopefully, natural reproduction will continue."
Wildlife Department fisheries biologists will monitor possible future trout reproduction and track the survival of these young trout. In the meantime, fisheries biologists will continue improving habitat in the area through projects like the national award-winning Evening Hole Restoration Project the most ambitious stream restoration project undertaken by the Department and other projects such as the bubble plume diffuser installation in Broken Bow Lake, designed to provide colder water to the Lower Mountain Fork River.
Because brown trout feed a great deal on the surface, they have become very popular with fly fishermen. The stocky brown is a bulldog fighter when hooked, occasionally leaping out of the water. Fishing for browns is best on overcast days, in early morning before the sun is up and at night. On bright days, fish are more often found in the shade of undercut banks or overhanging vegetation.
Browns commonly feed on mayfly and caddisfly nymphs, grasshoppers, worms, crayfish and minnows. The brown's varied diet enables anglers to employ some of the same methods used to catch rainbows. However, at the Lower Mountain Fork River designated trout area, fishing in some areas is restricted to artificial flies and lures with barbless hooks only.
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