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The Release
The Release
WbranchJuly 24th, 2008, 7:15 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Caught this beauty yesterday in the West Branch of the Delaware. In over forty years of fishing the Delaware system I've only caught about five brookies with the largest about 12". I didn't have a tape but this fish is in the 17" - 18" range.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
CamWolf1313July 24th, 2008, 9:01 pm
Andover, MA/ Andover NH

Posts: 18
Does the part of the Delware you were fishing in have brown trout, because the fish you caught looks like a tiger trout.

Nice Fish,
"Clear your mind of everything but the fish and the fly and you will be in the right mind frame to land it"
Billy Berger.
GONZOJuly 24th, 2008, 9:05 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
What a beautiful and remarkable fish, Wbranch! It is not a brookie, but a tiger trout. (A cross between a male brook trout and a brown trout.) If it is wild--and it appears to be--it is rare and one of the largest wild tigers I have seen. Congratulations!
GrannomJuly 25th, 2008, 6:38 am
Northwest PA

Posts: 87
That's a Tiger Trout, but looks wild and is pretty incredible. Sorry that you didn't get your biggest Brookie :( Agian, pretty incredible.

"Be calm - you're there..." "...Tell yourself there's no rush, even if there is."

-John Gierach
Shawnny3July 25th, 2008, 6:59 am
Pleasant Gap, PA

Posts: 1197
Beautiful fish. Congratulations.

Jewelry-Quality Artistic Salmon Flies, by Shawn Davis
WbranchJuly 25th, 2008, 10:04 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Yes, now I feel like an idiot! I was too excited to really examine the fish and to get a few pictures quickly. I did wonder, briefly, about the absence of any orange on the fins or belly but was still very happy to get a fish that I originally thought was a brook trout.

Louis Martin send me an email to tell me of my identification error. It's somewhat of a let down but I showed the picture to three guides and all of them thought is was an awesome trophy for the West Branch of the Delaware. The WB is like 95% browns, 4.99% rainbows, and .01% brookies. In over thirty five years of fishing the WB this is the first non brown or rainbow trout I've ever caught.

I was able to measure my Orvis Batttenkill LA diameter and measure the reel on an enlargement on my screen. After some calculations it appears the fish is no less than 17.5" and no more than 17.75".

Thanks to everyone for setting me straight.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GONZOJuly 25th, 2008, 11:00 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681

Unless you have reason to believe it was a stray stocker, I wouldn't feel at all "let down" about the identity of this fish. If it was wild, it is an exceptional catch. Many anglers fish all of their lives without ever encountering a wild tiger trout.

Although I've caught quite a few of the hatchery-produced hybrids, I've only encountered two wild tigers in more than forty years of fly fishing. The first was caught by a fishing buddy in 1993. It came from a small headwater about a mile below the point where a barrier falls separated a wild brown trout population from a wild brook trout population. Only a few brook trout are found below the falls. I caught the second wild tiger in 2006. It was in another stream where a headwater brook trout population mixes very sparsely into a dominant population of wild browns.

Male brookies that are more or less stranded among a population of browns probably "horn in" on the spawning of the browns in much the same way that a precocious "jack" salmon tries to fertilize the eggs of an adult female salmon. The combination of unusual circumstances and low hatching/survival rates makes these fish very unusual in the wild. Being a hybrid of two different genera, tigers are "mules" (unlike splake, for example) and cannot reproduce. They are reputed to be more aggressive than either of their parents and good surface feeders.
WbranchJuly 25th, 2008, 12:27 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733

Many years ago, in the Fall, on Monguap Creek a little stream in the Catskills I saw a brown trout on a redd and hovering around this brownie was a male brook trout about the same size of the brown. They were abouy 14" long.

Now whether or not the male brookie fertilized the eggs that were laid by the brown I don't know but they were a couple and who knows maybe they did mate and had some little ones!
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GONZOJuly 25th, 2008, 7:45 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Cool, Matt. I can't remember ever seeing that, but I have been privileged to catch the results. It still amazes me that this happens. More amazing, I guess, is that it is an alien species of one genus mating with a native species of another genus. I have heard reports that something similar, but less alien, sometimes happens with native European char and browns.
WbranchJuly 26th, 2008, 9:22 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
I checked out the PA Fish Commission web site and they have been experimenting with tiger trout for a few years to determine if they would grow any faster. The results indicated there was no meaningful increase in growth rate. The data mentioned that tigers would often be mixed in with brookies for scheduled stockings.

I sent them an inquiry as to whether any plantings of brookies and/or tigers had been made into any tributaries of the main stem Delaware or the WB Delaware in the last five years. I sent a similar email to the NYS DEC and enclosed pictures of the fish for their review.

Who knows I may have caught the biggest Tiger in NYS or at least the biggest (maybe the only) in the West Branch of the Delaware.
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GONZOJuly 26th, 2008, 10:18 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
I'm anxious to hear what you find out, Matt. I'm pretty sure that both states probably have records of much larger tigers, but they are all likely to be hatchery products. I know that there was a huge one caught a few years ago in Falling Springs, but it was a hatchery fish.

I thought that the PFB&C had decided to abandon tiger trout production a few years back, but perhaps they changed their minds. They dumped a whole pile of them into the lower Brodheads a few years ago. I was really disappointed to have one after another of them attacking my flies instead of the big wild browns that I was after. If mortality rates are as high as I've seen (one source says that only about 35% are able to develop beyond sac-fry, and that is under hatchery conditions), I'm a bit surprised that they bother trying to produce them. But then, I don't get the point of those ridiculous yellow rainbows either. (I think they are just stocking advertisements.) :)
WbranchJuly 27th, 2008, 10:16 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
You know there is always a ballbuster when somebody posts a picture on any forum! I've noticed that when I hold a fish by the tail and take a picture of it under water it always looks smaller (less length) than it really was when measured. The Orvis Battenkill LA reel is 3.75" in diameter (3 3/4") I am able to make a fulll screen enlargement on my screen and by measuring the reel and then measuring the length of the fish one can determine a ratio which can then be used to calculate the length of the fish.

Same fish - Against rod for comparison of grip and reelseat to length of fish.

I personally don't give a can of beans to what you think trtklr but for others that might have any interest the fish is no less than 17.38" and no more than 17.75". If you don't want to BE A SNERT WHY THEN ACT LIKE ONE?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
TrtklrJuly 27th, 2008, 1:57 pm

Posts: 115
alright, lol, in that picture it definitly looks all of 17.3 but I don't know about the .08. sorry wbranch, made that post at work on a bad day, as I said that is a beautiful fish.
I have seen nothing more beautiful than the sunrise on a cold stream.
WestJuly 28th, 2008, 6:35 am
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Posts: 46
That top one is a special specimen. Very's one of my goals to catch a tiger. In Wisconsin, I should have a good shot, but haven't hooked into one yet.
FreepowJuly 28th, 2008, 6:52 am
menomonie, WI

Posts: 83
Where in Wisconsin can we find Tigers...? I am guessing it is up north more but I haven't heard much about Tigers in Wisconsin. Any tips???
"I fish...because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don't want to waste the trip..."
WbranchJuly 28th, 2008, 7:58 am
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
Driftless area?
Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
GONZOJuly 28th, 2008, 11:40 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
West and Jason (Freepow),

I would concentrate on places where a wild brook trout population begins to mix sparsely with a dominant population of wild browns. If a natural barrier (usually a fairly high waterfall) separates the two populations, the chances might be even better as only a few brookies will mix with the browns.

One of PA's famous Nale brothers once wrote that he had encountered seven wild tigers in his fishing lifetime. The Nales are all outstanding trout fishermen, and they fish in many places like the ones I described. Happy hunting!
WbranchJuly 28th, 2008, 5:49 pm
York & Starlight PA

Posts: 2733
You can find them in Bhutan, Nepal, and parts of Viet Nam.

Catskill fly fisher for fifty-five years.
KinzuaJuly 28th, 2008, 8:33 pm

Posts: 20
Tailwater tiger. Awesome. What did it eat? How was the fight? My experience with tigers is that they are very aggressive and mean.
FalsiflyJuly 29th, 2008, 11:14 am
Hayward, WI.

Posts: 661
If you reexamine Wbranchís picture, paying particular attention to the stripes anterior to the caudal area, I think you will agree that it is a Spring Creek Tiger and not a Tailwater Tiger.
When asked what I just caught that monster on I showed him. He put on his magnifiers and said, "I can't believe they can see that."

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