Photo Essay: The Brown Trout of the Spanish Pyrenees

This dark, gorgeous beast fell for a small blue-winged olive imitation right a dusk. Look at those spots!
All photos by Sandy Hays

One of the difficult things about going on a fly-fishing expedition with a photographer is that you end up with many more great images than you can use in a single magazine or blog story, and it’s tough to pick out just a few to illustrate the words. I often go back and re-live these trips by combing through the photos shot by my friend Sandy Hays, who has traveled with me to about a dozen angling destinations–from New Zealand to Norway, and from Argentina to Ireland.

Landed in a tailwater section, this fish display some of the tiniest spots I’ve ever seen on a brown.

Recently, while perusing his wonderful images from our 2011 trip to the Spanish Pyrenees with Salvelinus Fishing Adventures, I noticed something fascinating: the brown trout that we caught often looked very different from each other, depending on where we were fishing. So I put together this selection of photos to demonstrate the point.┬áThere is, of course, an obvious contrast between the native, Mediterranean “striped” brown trout and those introduced to the region by stocking. But the spotting patterns and even body shapes of the fish also vary widely, perhaps as a result of various kinds of interbreeding among different native and introduces stocks. Enjoy this selection of trout as seen through Sandy’s lenses, as well as the many varieties of brown-trout finery.

From the very same pool as the fish above, this trout has a more standard spotting pattern.

Mediterranean “striped” trout feature vertical dark bars along their sides.

This small torpedo ate a nymph is a fast riffle below a large dam.

From a very high-altitude stream, this brown had no red spots at all and was almost translucent.

The lack of black spots along much of its sides set this streamer-eater apart.

In a high meadow stream, I landed this beauty, whose yellow belly matched the wildflowers.

Check out the chompers on this guy!

Another Mediterranean trout displayed a sparse and oddly regular spotting pattern.

Another meadow fish was long and lean, unlike its fatter counterpart above.

Here’s a slideshow including many more images from the trip. Watch at full-screen for maximum effect:


Created with flickr slideshow.


5 thoughts on “Photo Essay: The Brown Trout of the Spanish Pyrenees”

  1. I’ve also done some fly fishing in Spain, and in the French side of the pyrenees. obviously the patterns and colour vary throughout the geography, sometimes in the same water. This is common in Eurasia. I sometimes check the stomach content also, and have observed in Turkey that sometimes the diet varies within the same water.

  2. The second to last was my favorite. Ive fished in that area and all of the trout are beautiful. Great photos!!

  3. Great fish in beautiful country. Even if a day was mostly fishing and not catching the scenery would be worth it.

  4. Phil – I remember my trip there some years ago… What a great host at Salvelinus, and Pyrenees are spectacular! Ian

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