Answer: When they’re good and ready. Over at Hatch, John Juracek does some Vulcanic mind melding with the brown trout.

Rainbows, cutthroat, brook trout—they all exhibit feeding patterns that pretty much correlate directly with the availability of food.  When food’s plentiful they can be counted on to eat it, and eat it well. When food’s sporadic, so too is their feeding.  But not the brown trout. They feed according to their own schedule.  (A Henry’s Fork rainbow can be fickle like this too, but still fails to rank in the same class as a brown.)

What implications does this behavior have for fishing?  For one, it suggests that patience is often going to be a key to success.  Don’t give up too soon if fish aren’t responding early in a hatch.  Brown trout can take what feels like forever to come on to a hatch.  Even then, they frequently give the impression that rising is something of a bother, practically more trouble than it’s worth (uh, easily acquired, abundant food?  Who cares?).

Read “A brown trout quirk” at Hatch.

Duane Raver, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Pubic domain.