I like to fish brown trout in May well before dawn. When I get to streamside, the scene remains as yet almost darker than light. When I leave, the first of other fishermen arrive.
Approaching browns this way, I don't recall ever getting skunked. I bought another bucket full of fatheads and a dozen medium shiners, hoping to entice a big brown. But as it worked out, my wife would not allow her son to get up so early and compromise his game on the ballfield early in the afternoon, which I agreed made sense.
We got to the Verizon building area of the Raritan River North Branch at about 9:00 a.m. Matt soon had a good fish on well back under the Route 202-206 bridge, but lost it. Could have been a smallmouth. Meanwhile, as the single other angler in sight fishing upstream some 30 yards began to wade back to the bank, he lifted a great brown trout on a stringer, at least 20 inches long. (That was the fish I looked for.)
Next we fished AT&T. Having tried only the larger shiners, I switched to a fathead and immediately had an average brown trout on. I got it to about a foot from the bank when it shook free, underneath the western-most bridge. My son had another fish, also on a fathead and surely a trout, losing it. But the six-foot hole by the sycamore that angles over the water from the bank yielded three smallmouth to more of my fatheads, and another hit from a brown. The way a smallmouth takes is quite different. Bass engulf bait, hold it firmly, and swim off steadily; you can feel a brown nervously work its jaws, as well as swim irregularly with the bait (I'm always less sure about setting the hook with trout).
Clearly evident to me, plenty of browns had a presence here, and if we had stayed longer and fished with meticulous patience, I think we could have caught some. I felt almost willing to do this, as I enjoyed myself once the smallmouths loosened my feelings, but not only did I have a lot to do at home, my son wanted breakfast.