Don’t Tread on my Redd

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Trout Redd Photo by Dan Flynn

This is the time of year when trout, as well as other cold water fish, put on their Barry White records, open a bottle of Courvoisier and get busy.

Brown trout and brook trout spawn in the fall and rainbow and cutthroats in the spring. Exact spawning times vary a bit from region to region and year to year but that’s the gist of it. Chubs, suckers, shiners, sculpins and other baitfish that make up an important part of the trouts diet are spawning all through the cooler months as well.

Trout lay their eggs in gravel. This gravel is key to the fry’s survival. They will find a spot where there is a consistent flow of well oxygenated water with a consistent depth of a foot or so, out of direct sun. The female will use her tail to clean the silt from a patch of gravel creating a redd where she will lay her eggs.

Fish do not hatch like birds or reptiles. They sort of pop out on top of the egg which stays attached to their belly and serves as a source of nutrition until the fry is big enough to forage for food. These sack fry are quite vulnerable. They hover over the redd and when predators approach they disappear into the gravel for protection.

Trout will generally move to the headwaters of streams to spawn but redds can be found anywhere the conditions are right. They appear as bright spots of clean gravel from one to three feet in diameter. Some are pronounced when surrounded by silt. In places where the gravel is clean they can be subtile depressions in the stream bed.

As anglers we must be aware of the presents of redds and wade with care. Stepping in redds can spoil eggs or crush sack fry hiding in the gravel and seriously effect trout reproduction. Even baitfish redds should be treated with caution as they are an important part of the food chain that trout depend on.

There is nothing more important to a fishery than the successful reproduction of wild fish. It’s worth taking your time, keeping your eyes open and treading carefully. If your lucky, you may even get to see a spawning pair getting about their business. Let them be. Their working for a better fishery.


The other day I was fishing in North Carolina when I spotted these Two Male Brook Trout fighting over a female. These are stocked fish and it is unlikely that they will spawn successfully but the instinct is there. Brook trout are notoriously competitive.

Enjoy the Brook trout cage match!

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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10 thoughts on “Don’t Tread on my Redd

  1. Hey guys, About how far will a trout travel to find headwaters? Do they travel back to their original hangout once the deed is done? It seems like I see the same trout year after year but I guess I can’t say that with 100% certainty.

    • They will travel quite a ways. They do return to their holding water. Especially brown trout. Browns are serious homebodies. They will spend their whole life in one hole. Studies have shown that, faced with lethal water temps they will stay in their spot and die rather than move to headwaters where the water is colder. Interestingly browns will travel miles each night hunting for food but return to their holding water by sunrise. Maybe their vampires!

  2. Awesome video! The tunes playing are fantastic, is that your hungarian blues player Little G Weevil? I also have to say thanks for all the info you post, I have just started flyfishing and I get more out of your website than any other and believe me I checked out many. I am a four footed game hunter and now thanks to you guys I love hunting game that has fins too.

    • Thanks Man, I’m glad you’re getting some good info! That’s what we’re trying to do.

      That is the late, great Howlin’ Wolf singing Wang Dand Doodle. Recorded in the late 50s I believe. Glad you like it!

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