The Elusive Amish Trout

I am always amazed the interest generated by the name Amish Trout. I remember arriving at one of the first trade shows to a group of volunteers waiting for "the Amish Trout boys. When we walked in, there was a sense of disappointment in the crowd. Finally, some one bellowed "you guys aren't Amish!" 

"No," I said, "but the trout are!"

Several people have inquired about the Amish Trout, and I am for once, and all explain the origin of the name and the fish. First of all, no one associated with the Amish Trout is Amish. I'm sure Beachy has some Amish blood, and most of us speak just enough Dutch to get by. However, we are not amish. We are fortunate to have good relationships with Amish landowners and can fish a lot of private lands. The term "Amish Trout" gained popularity with improvements to the Little Elkhart River over the past fifteen years. Folks from Chicago, South Bend, and other areas would say "I want to come down and fish those Amish waters" and soon that evolved into "come down and fish for those Amish Trout."

The Amish Trout  

The Amish Trout  

Back then, the trout had a little different look. They didn't have buttery and didn't have has many spots as the trout many of us were used to catching in Michigan and elsewhere and thus became known as Amish Trout. Over the years, our trout have become brighter, with tighter spot patterns and have grown to a much larger size on average than we had become accustomed to. I always believed that the combination of a much better environment and LECTU's stocking efforts were the causes of the trout's "improved" appearance. Truthfully, I didn't give it much thought.

That is until last week when I hooked what I thought was a holdover bow out of a deep and fast run. The fish was barely 10 inches and outfought the other larger fish I had hooked and released. When I brought the fish to hand, I was surprised to see the silvery fish was a brown trout! A classic dark Amish Trout. I caught over a dozen fish that night, all within 10 meters of each other. So what made this fish different? 

Many of you may be aware that the U.S. Fish Commission released 4900 brown trout fry into the Baldwin River, a tributary of the Pere Marquette River in Michigan, only a few hours north of us. This was the first release of brown trout into U.S. waters. Between 1884 and 1890, brown trout were introduced into suitable habitats throughout the U.S.[8] By 1900, 38 states and two territories had received stocks of brown trout. Their adaptability resulted in most of these introductions establishing wild, self-sustaining populations. But before that, in 1883 eggs were collected from Baron Lucius von Behr, president of the German Fishing Society, and sent to hatcheries in Long Island,  Caledonia, New York and Northville, Michigan. The additional shipments came in the following years from Germany (know as the German or Von Behr trout) and Loch Leven, Scotland.

Lil E Loch Leven Brown

Lil E Loch Leven Brown

While biologically, the fish are the same, and both are considered Salmo Truttra family, they are visibly different. Loch Leven trout are often called "The Perfect Trout," distinguished by larger fins, a more golden slimmer body, and heavy black spotting, but lacking red spots. The German strain features a lighter silvery golden cast with some red spotting and fewer dark spots. To confuse matters more, the two have been crossbred here in North America, producing the more well-known brassy brown cast fading to creamy white on the fish's belly, with medium-sized spots surrounded by lighter halos and some red dots that sometimes referred to as American Trout.

We have caught all the different strains of brown trout in our local waters, though less and less of the Von Behr variety. 

The Amish Trout is actually German... But so are our Amish, so I guess it all works out in the end! 


The Dog Days of Summer

When the heat of the summer hits and the river gets low and clear, water temps increase and trout become lethargic due to the increasing water temps. They go into survival mode and become increasingly wary as the water is at its lowest level of the year. We have been fortunate this year and have had relatively low temps and only a few days that were truly unfishable. Being a catch and release fishery, we give the trout a rest in the summer and follow other pursuits. I have been golfing more and smallmouth fishing, however, as of late I have been chasing a fish that really got me into fly fishing. Grass carp on the fly are really one of the most addicting, challenging, and rewarding experiences a fly fisherman could ask for. They are spooky, finicky, and hardfighting when hooked, that is if you can get one to eat your fly. Carp are often looked down upon as a trash fish, but I promise if you give them a chance you might get addicted, as it is all sight fishing to an extremely large and wary fish with light tippet and tackle. It ends up being more like hunting.

Anyways, with the higher temps and lower flows I have given the trout a rest and heavily pursued the grass carp in an attempt to get ready for our upcoming bonefish trip in December. I also was trying to prove to myself that I'm not a trout snob (still trying.) There is a large pond a mile from my house that holds a healthy population of grass carp. This is where I really honed my fly fishing skills 2 years ago. To catch one you need to be an accurate and stealthy caster, which is something I struggle with due to the fact I generally fish streamers which don't really require too much stealth.  

I headed down to the pond in the morning and was shocked to see over 10 grassies tailing and feeding on the surface. I tied a fly on that I have named the Caesar Salad and got to work stalking and casting to the feeding giants. The fly imitates a clump of grass or algae  it is super easy to tie and highly effective. Mulberry flies work as well, you must cast them as stealthy as possible as they tend to make a big splash that will spook the grass carp more often than not. I quickly hooked one and snapped off. I had one more eat that I missed a hook set on in the first 10 minutes I was there. I put down my rod and called my friend Dane Schmucker. I had brought Dane to the pond before and the fishing sucked, and assured him this time it would be worth his while to get out here. Dane is a highly accomplished carp fisherman and just as good of a photographer and video editor, so I was excited to see what he could do. We mainly had last second refusals refusals and a few missed hook sets on my part (need a wider gap hook.) Dane finally got one to eat a chartreuse carp fly he invented called that looks like an egg with a berry stem and the fight was on! After a lengthy battle, Dane landed his first grassie on the fly! It was an awesome sight to see and I'm glad I was there to witness it. I still haven't landed my grassie for the summer but I'm hoping to get a chance to change that with the heat wave that is headed our way. 

Dane with a "beautiful" Yellow Creek Grassie

Dane with a "beautiful" Yellow Creek Grassie


Check out Dane's instagram for a video clip of the fight and all things carp fishing! His page is listed as:  @Creek_Rat_Media and he does some awesome work on the lens and an even better job editing his work. 


As always, thanks for reading! Streamer season is quickly approaching and we have some guided trips available! This is your best chance of catching a trophy trout in our waters. 


Tight Lines, 


The Loop: Fishing Report 7/25/17

I had the chance to fish for a little while after work this evening and figured it would be a good time to give an update on the status of the Little E. The water temps have been high due to the high air temps we have been having so we have given the trout a break to seek refuge from the hot summer sun. However, the past few nights, air temps dropped down to the 50s, which helped get the water temps back to a fishable level. 

I didn't take any photos this evening because I forgot my net at home, which would make it impossible to safely take any photos of the fish as I would have to hold them out of the water while I got my camera ready, instead of keeping them underwater in my net like I usually do. I have been using my new Sage Accel 9 foot 4 wt a decent amount as it makes for an excellent dry fly rod and a decent close quarter nymphing rod. The feel on this rod is excellent, however it lacks the backbone to hold big fish as I lost one tonight that my Orvis Recon 4wt would've handled. It is not a bad rod by any means, just different to the faster action rods I am used to. Anyways, back to the fishing report.

I hit the northern stretches of the C&R because I haven't been there in a while and the hike in is a decent workout. After hiking the field and woods, I arrived at the first run I usually fish. It is a fast riffle section that leads to a huge pool in a deep bend of the river. I fished it thoroughly with no luck.

I moved downstream to an area where a certain ditch feeds in that usually runs several degrees cooler than the main branch of the Little E. In the heat of the summer a few degrees can make all the difference. And it did. I took one rainbow and a good brown on my first 5 drifts and missed a few more fish along the way. I moved downstream to a run known as the cable run, and fished it thoroughly taking several chubs along the way. I was finally rewarded with a decent 11 inch brown that took my anchor fly. I moved downstream and pounded run after run with no luck, not even a single chub. This time of year big browns will move into suitable water and kick other fish out, so if you are fishing an area that you know should hold fish, more than likely there is a big brown in there and you might have to come back and get him when the water gets off color or mouse him at night. I came to an area below where another ditch feeds in that I know holds fish in all times of the year. This area has great current, undercut bank, and perfect overhead over. I have taken several very nice trout out of this run during high water this year and Beachy lost a really nice fish in this run. I Czech nymphed it and took a rainbow and pretty nice brown around 15 inches, but caught nothing in the deepest part of the run making me believe there is a big boy in there. The next run downstream that would hold fish in the low water conditions was a good 10 minute walk from my current location, and it was getting late so I decided to fish my way back up. I took a few more browns as I re-fished areas that I had fished on my way down. I got back to the cable run and put on a single split shot to get my flies deep in the zone of the front of the run. It made all the difference in the world. I caught 2 browns and lost one really nice fish that wrapped me around a snag and broke me off. My Sage 4 wt just didn't have the backbone to keep him out of the snags (or at least that's what I tell myself to sleep at night.) I moved upstream to back to the big pool just before sunset. On my second drift thru something huge nailed my point fly but my hook-set was weak and he spit it.

All in all it was a great night of fishing. I often forget how lucky we are to have a troutstream that fishes this well virtually in our backyard, and for that, I am thankful.


Fly selection and Critical Info:

-Water temp: 65 degrees Fahrenheit (cooler in some places)

-Clarity: Gin clear 

-Nymphs: Surveyor, Bishop, Olive Chicken Bone, Beachy's Generic Olive Nymph, Depth Charger

-Streamers: Olive, Black, or Green Buggers in sizes 8-12 (Go small in low water)

If you get out early in the morning or start seeing risers, prospect with a dry fly (Adams, PMX, Foam Beetle, Elk Hair Caddis) When the water gets low, these are the go to bugs and are a blast to fish, 

This has been my second post of my fishing report De Lus (The Loop.) Follow us on Instagram and Facebook @amishtroutoutfitters for fishing pics and more.