Wild Trout Trifecta

One additional thought to my post from last evening. This stream does not have any barrier (natural or man-made) that fish cannot get past. That said there was a pretty clear transition from Bows to Brookies as we went upstream. Of the first 10 fish we caught, 7 were Bows, 2 were Brookies, and one was a Brown. Then the Bows stopped all of a sudden, and for the most part it was all Brookies (plus one more Brown) after that, but no more Rainbows.

I did also observe two low teens Browns, and lost one other low teens Brown interspersed fairly evenly over the mile and half or so we fished. But there was definitely a fairly abrupt stop to the Rainbows. Interesting given the lack of a barrier or anything else obvious in the stream to cause it.
Just did this myself today in an Area 5 stream.

I was specifically seeking out WTs, expected to land a couple of STs, but it was actually the BT that surprised me a bit. In retrospect, it probably shouldn't have.

I never thought I'd make this club . . .


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Might be possible for me to do this by walking from home here in the laurel highlands- although there would be some modest trespass. This and wild tiger trout- rarely put myself in a position to improve my odds of doing so.

I once caught what I called a Yellowstone Slam in about 3 hours of fishing. Whitey, brown,bow,cut bow and Yellowstone cutthroat. Wonder if the road where that was is even there any longer. Kinda of a short steep bank with riprap. One of my most memorable days fishing. 2009 I think.
I suppose I'm really late to this thread, but #2 son just sent me the attached photo with the tag: "Thought you guys should know, Boiling Springs has wild bows! This was 1 of 3!" This was a couple days after he thought "two looks" at Letort was a successful outing.


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I actually "discovered" a new wild rainbow population here in Mifflin County this year. It's a stream I fish several times a year but this spring I turned up 5 small wild bows in one day. I had never seen wild bows in there before. I was way off the beaten path from where I usually fish. This stream has wild Brookies and every now and again I turn up wild browns, so this stream could be a "trifecta" stream now. In fact, that day I was really hoping to catch a wild brown but it just didn't happen.

That brings my count on my local waters I frequent to 4 streams containing wild bows, the other three have all been confirmed by a PFBC biologist when I spoke to him last year.
I thought about this thread the other day while fishing. I’ve fished for wild trout in the Laurel Highlands for over 30 years and typically stay on the headwater streams. However, on Friday I was lazy and fished an easy-access downstream section of one of my blue lines. It receives one light stocking of rainbows in May and I saw about a dozen in a single pool. In addition to the wild brook trout I was targeting, I caught three wild rainbows in what appears to be 3 age classes:

I was very surprised as I know this watershed well and have fished all of its tributaries that have public access. I catch wild browns on a few, but never wild rainbows and haven’t heard of any being caught.

Checking my journal, I’ve caught 50+ wild rainbows on nine Laurel Highlands streams since 1990. Most are now on the PAF&B wild trout list, but a few aren’t. Two of those streams support wild brooks, browns and a few rainbows—I caught a wild trifecta on one of these in 1998.

Wild rainbows in the well-known Laughlintown area streams in Westmoreland County’s Loyalhanna watershed are apparently descended from west coast-sourced wild fish. Those being stocked in the early part of the last century by the Rolling Rock Club.

I don’t know, but assume the wild rainbows I’ve caught outside of the Loyalhanna watershed are from successful spawning by PAF&B Commission hatchery fish. While searching for information on wild rainbows in the state, I found the commissions “Overview of Trout Stocking in Pennsylvania” (TroutStocking-FactSheet.pdf (fishandboat.com)), which mentions “An additional benefit to stocking Rainbow Trout is that there are rarely concerns of them reproducing and establishing wild populations, especially in watersheds where they could compete with wild Brook Trout.” Maybe in some areas, but apparently not in the Laurel Highlands.

I have a large inventory of Southwestern Pennsylvania streams with wild trout that I fish. I rarely visit a stream more than once per year and many I fish infrequently. One of the later, an unstocked stream had a good population of wild browns when I fished there several times in the 1990s. In year 2000, I caught 6 browns and a single wild rainbow there. Returning in 2014, I caught 6 browns and 3 rainbows—the later in 3 age classes. I’m planning to return before winter and I’m expecting an expanded population of rainbows.
Laurel Highlands Trifecta- this morning all from the same stream.

While it’s certainly possible that all three could be wild- my guess is the brown is a holdover even with the red and the behind the eye spot and as well as the rainbow. The native is the prettiest I’ve caught in PA in couple years.

Interestingly, waters that were only 2-3 miles apart the flow varied wildly. Some into the bushes while other just had a little more flow when I scouted around yesterday at likely spots. Nice morning.


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“There’s also one in Skuke County where I know of guys who have done it. I’ve fished there, but never personally caught the Rainbow.”

Individuals fishing there one summer or fall could have also caught naturally reproduced Golden Rainbows in the unstocked section (parent stock was likely PFBC fish from the stocked section unless there were private stockings above). The “population” of YOY (actually fairly high numbers of YOY) was gone two or three yrs later when we checked. I would bet that the vast majority didn’t survive the first winter.
You can do this fairly regularly on one of the most famous waterways in PA.
Accomplished my first wild trout trifecta today. I was suprised at the number of brown trout , caught 8 in about a 100 foot section along with 2 rainbow. Had to drive upstream about 2 1/2 miles for two brookies.


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