Thursday, April 13, 2017

Beating The Run Off - Catching Early Season Rainbow Trout

At this time of the year, when the trout fishing season is just starting in most areas, if you like to fish for rainbow trout in the flowing water of a river or stream like I do you need to get out on the water sooner, rather than later. What I mean by this is that if you can fish your favorite trout river early in the season, you can beat the run off and normally enjoy some pretty productive trout fishing.

Over the years I have learned that after a long winter of very little fishing pressure and very cold water temperatures, as spring temperatures rise, thus raising the water temperature of the rivers and streams, the rainbow trout that reside in said river will become very active. What this means for ultralight spin fishermen is that there are a couple of weeks of really good trout fishing early in the season, as long as you beat the run off. Once the run off from the mountains turns rivers and streams into "chocolate milk",  catching rainbow trout becomes much more difficult.

So the goal for river and stream fishermen, early in the season needs to be to beat the run off. There is normally a one to three week window where this is possible. In Northwest Montana we are in the throws of this sweet spot right now.The rivers are becoming more and more stained by the day, but the trout are still feeding quite heavily.  In two weeks it will be over, but for now catching early season rainbow trout is as productive as is gets. 

Drift fishing is my technique of choice, whether the bait is a live worm or a Rooster Tail spinner, anytime that I am trout fishing a river and in the early spring.  This technique is a great way of beating the run off and an excellent way to catch some early season rainbow trout.  At this time of the year, don't expect to be fishing in clear water, and remember that stained water isn't a problem.  You should still catch trout, right up until the point that the water starts to look like chocolate milk.  At that point the run off has taken the river and catching trout will become very difficult.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Still Fishing For Rainbow Trout

Although my favorite manner in which to catch a rainbow trout (or any fish for that matter) is while I am standing in the flowing waters of a river, I am by no means a "trout fishing snob" and realize that many a rainbow is caught while fishing in a lake or pond. Make no mistake, in the spring of the year when the rivers and streams in my area become to high and muddy to effectively drift fish you will often find me still fishing for rainbow trout.

Therefore, I figured it was a good idea to outline the personal method that I use to still fish for rainbow
trout. Although the method isn't a state secret or anything, it is nonetheless very effective and should be known by any trout fisherman who enjoys the act of still fishing. So, for those of you who may not know, still fishing refers to the fact that the bait is "sitting still" while you are fishing. In other words a hook is baited and cast into a lake, then the bait is allowed to "sit still" until a inquisitive rainbow trout bites the offering.

The rudimentary picture that you see to the right is the rig that I personally use anytime that I am still fishing for rainbow trout.  It's very simple, but at the same time, very effective.

As far as the best bait to use when you are still fishing for trout, it's hard to go wrong with Berkley Powerbait or Berkley Power Eggs.   Rainbow trout (especially trout that have been stocked) love these baits!  The only difference that I've noticed between the two is that the eggs are easier to deal with and bait a hook with that traditional Powerbait.  Although, if you are using a small treble hook (I suggest #12 or #18) traditional Powerbait is much easier to use, because you can just mold it around your hook creating a small ball of trout bait.

Once you have a rig such as the one pictured above baited up and ready it is cast out and allowed to sink to the bottom.  Once on bottom, the slack line is slowly reeled in and your fishing rod is propped against a stationary object or rested on a forked stick or other rod holder.  At this point, the still fishing begins.

Still fishing for rainbow trout means waiting for a hungry trout to bite your offering.  My general "rule of thumb" is to wait 20-30 minutes and if there haven't been any bites, I reel and and re cast.  If this happens more than 2 times, I change spots.  And just in case you didn't know, when a hungry trout is biting your offering the tip of your rod will begin to bounce, at which time your gently pick up your rod and as soon as you feel weight, set the hook by lifting your rod straight back.

What was just outlined is the way in which I have caught hundreds of rainbow trout over the course of a couple of decades.  Although very simple, the technique is very effective and because it has worked for me, I know it will be very effective for you as well anytime that you feel the need to head out fishing for trout.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Is The Spring Of The Year The Best Time For Trout Fishing?

When I was learning how to fish for trout in Central Pennsylvania almost 30 years ago (good God the time really flies by) it was widely accepted that the spring of the year was the best time to fish for trout.  After all, the spring is when the season started and coincided with the fish and game department stocking the lakes and rivers with literal truckloads of trout.  So, I accepted the unwritten rule of the spring being the best time of the year to fish for trout and have lived by that moniker for most of my fishing career.

And while this idea isn't necessarily untrue, I have since learned that for me and my fishing sensibilities, the fall has proven to be more productive when fishing for trout, especially when you are referring to large trout, which I define as trout that reach the 18 inch mark or longer. In any case, in many area's of the country, especially the Northeast United States, the spring of the year is a great time of the year for trout fishing, there's no doubt about it.

Nowadays I live in the western United States (Northwest Montana to be exact) and the spring is no doubt a great time of the year for trout fishing with one small caveat if you like to fish for spring trout in small rivers and streams like I do. Here in the west, if you want to have a successful outing trout fishing the small rivers and streams that I like you need to hit the water early.  That means going trout fishing from mid March until late April, which is to say early spring.

And, just as you would probably imagine, this early spring trout fishing can be quite productive here in the Sweater United Sates.  Right up until the point that the waters become to high and muddy due to snow melt in the mountains to drift fish effectively, which as you may or may not have gleaned is my preferred method when it comes to trout fishing?  So, is the spring of the year the best time of the year for trout fishing?  It sure can be and depending on the area that you live and fish and the method that use when you are out fishing for spring trout. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Are Polorized Glasses Really Worth Using When You Are Fishing?

As a fisherman who has been on the water chasing fish for more than two decades, the answer to whether or not I need to wear polarized glasses when fishing is really quite simple.  Of course I do!  Now, keep in mind I spend most of my time in rivers, so being able to see into the water is very important, both for safety and strategy.  

There was a time when technology and manufacturing quality hadn't caught up to the products that were being sold to fishermen and there were a lot of inferior polarized glasses on the market.  This is the time when I was originally introduced to the world of polarization and glasses and at that time also had a limited budget.  What this meant is that I would purchase inexpensive polarized glasses and invariably be disappointed the their performance.

Luckily, this all changed about 5 years ago and now find very serviceable polarized fishing glasses in the $25-50 range.  I mean sure, the you can spend more than that (which I now do) simply because I prefer certain manufacturers, but the bottom line is that you no longer need to.  There are plenty of choices for the frugal fisherman and with online reviews, you can be confident in your purchase decisions. 

So, the answer the question posed in the title of this article, probably, depending on your preferred fishing style and/or method.  But, with the decrease in cost and increase in technology and manufacturing processes, for the very minimal investment that is now required there is probably no reason not to have a pair of polarized glasses on hand any time that you hit the water. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Even A Blind Squirrel Finds A Trout Every Now And Then

Since the weather has been warming quite dramatically in recent weeks, even though the past few days have been in the fifties during the daytime, I figured that the run off would make the Swan River all but un-fishable.  But with an afternoon of unproductiveness staring me in the face, I thought to myself, "why not head out and take a look?  Maybe Pacific Park will have area's that can be fished?"  And with that thought, I began to gather my equipment.

Waders and boots, fishing vest with back up gang hooks, Polarized Sunglasses , a bite to eat and I was off.  Within 30 minutes I was at the river and by the grace of God, no one was there (I prefer to fish alone whenever possible).  Withing 45 minutes of thinking the above thought I was standing in the water, basking in the glory that brings me as much peace as any single activity that I can engage in. I'm glad I had the thought and more importantly took the time to act on it!

Within minutes of starting to fish I had a bite and missed the son of a gun.  "It's okay I thought, I'm rusty this early in the season".  Two more casts and a hooked a fish (presumably a rainbow trout?) and as it shook it's head, threw the gang hooks from it's mouth.  I couldn't believe it, because that rarely happens, but oh well, right?  Over the next 15 or so minutes I hooked and lost four more fish, so I moved downstream a bit.

I was fishing the edge of a very large pool, where the water was raging in the center.  The edge was the only place that I could get a good drift and the fish obviously preferred the slower current as well.  Finally, I hooked what felt like a decent little rainbow and this time I could tell I got a good hook set.  I knew the fish wasn't huge, but it's sometimes hard to gauge this early in the year, so I took my time.  Within a minute or so I was admiring a nice, fat, little 12 or so inch rainbow trout before returning her to the water from which she came.  This was a well fed rainbow, that reminded me of one of those little Nerf footballs that I used to have when I was growing up.  Yep, she was a fattie!

The bottom line is that even a blind squirrel like me can find a trout every once in a while.