Spring is officially here in the Pacific Northwest, the arrival of warmer temps and sunny weather have many searching for outdoor activities to enjoy, whether you already fish or want to start, now is prime time to start chasing trout. From urban ponds to high mountain lakes trout are one of the most prevalent and easiest to catch species where they are found, they fight well and are great table fare which can be enjoyed by those of all ages.
If you are lucky enough to live in an area where trout are stocked by local agencies, a good place to start your pursuit is by looking at the stocking schedules of nearby bodies of water. Most trout, are stocked early in the season from April to Jun, in areas where the water stays colder throughout the year stocking continues well into the summer months. This is due to the stresses rising water temps cause the fish if they get to high, ideal moving and feeding temps for rainbow trout are 44-67 degrees. Now that you have an idea of where to start fishing for Trout, lets take a look at the gear you will need and basics of the three most commonly used techniques.
As Jordan briefly mentions in the associated video which, you can find a link to below; the rod/reel setups are the same from one method to the next. An ultralight rod in the 2-6lb line rating such as an Okuma Celilo paired with a Ceymar C-20 or C-30 spooled with Tuf-Line 10lb braid. In terms of rod length, for adults I would recommend a 6'6" for kids a shorter 5'6" will make things a little easier while casting. For all the techniques we are about to discuss, the appropriate mono or fluoro leader strength should be dictated by the size of fish you are targeting. If you start finding fish in the 15-20" range you might consider bumping up the leader to 6 or 8lb which allows you to more effectively fight the fish. Now lets go ahead and take a look at three of the techniques most commonly used to catch these fish.
The first and probably the simplest technique is, the old Carolina rig with a piece of floating bait which is essentially the same thing as a plunking slip rig. As you can see in the pic below, the bait will be lying on the bottom if no buoyancy is added in the form of either power bait or a small floating bead, aka "corky" on your hook. Your leader length should be adjusted according to depth, temperature and bottom structure/vegetation.
The same principles also apply for the bobber technique, only you are attacking them from the opposite direction so, if your bait naturally floats then weight needs to be added to bring your presentation into the strike zone as most trout in lakes are only surface feeding as dawn and dusk. When bobber fishing you can use a leader just long enough to space your presentation from the bobber so the fish don't potentially get spooked since, you can move the bobber stop on your main line to adjust for depth as where the Carolina rig needs the leader cut and length adjusted for proper depth.
Last but not least are spinners, they are effective in all conditions for trout, minus ice fishing of course. For a great breakdown of trout spinner fishing check out our last blog post which covers it in detail. When the bite has gone cold on bait spinners are a great way to entice the fish so don't leave home without them.
In terms of bait, the combinations of things I have seen used is vast but, there are a few key baits that almost all trout will feed on and work well when combined with a #4 Mustad bait holding hook. Powerbait in my opinion has claimed the top spot in the trout bait world gaining huge popularity over the last 30 years, worms and cured salmon eggs are another great choice, Less commonly used but historically productive baits include, marshmallows either plain or flavored ones made for fishing and corn. Some newer baits to the market include Powerbaits' Mice-Tails and power eggs which are extremely easy to fish and have added scent for effectiveness. To help hold Powerbait dough to your hook better I like to let it soak in the water for about 30 seconds and give it another pinch.
Locating the fish can be one of the most challenging aspects of all fishing and is no different with trout. The schools can move around with tide/current, water temp, food source and other variables, the movements we as fisherman have to try and interpret these patterns.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, most stockings occur in the spring; throughout the summer stocking may still occur in large deep bodies of water or high mountain lakes due to their waters remaining considerably cooler. When water temps start increasing, for a short period of the day it can turn a bite on but, once the bite dwindles it is most likely due to the fish moving deeper in search of a cooler refuge. A great place to target during hot days are areas with shade and structure. Earlier in the season though when temps are lower and more stable the fish can be pretty spread out so, if you aren't getting bit within a half hour or so seek them out by moving around. If fishing with a partner, one thing I like to do to cover water quickly is either move in opposite directions or by hopscotching each other up and down the bank.