Monday, July 31, 2017

The Two Biggest Enemies of Trout Fishing

 When I headed out to the Swan River recently to look for a trout or two I was aware of the fact that the temperatures had been quite hot, but hoped that if I got to the river early in the morning I still may be able to catch a rainbow or two. Truth be told, I didn't get there as early as I would have liked and was on the water by 10 am. I was fishing the river in a ravine or sorts, so the air temperature wasn't that excessive at all. I would guess it was in the high sixties? But when I felt the water, "uh oh", I thought to myself, "this water is way too warm".

 Then I made my first cast using a 16 oz jig head tipped with a power worm and immediately noticed the wind. As my jig drifted, I could see the bow in my line and immediately knew that it was going to be too windy to feel any subtle bites. I kept fishing for a little over an hour before giving up and calling it a day. In that hour I caught one small pike minnow (squaw fish) and had a nibble or two from what I assumed were finicky trout. So, while I didn't technically get "skunked" it sure felt like I did.

As I was walking back to my vehicle, I couldn't help but think that I had encountered the two biggest enemies of trout fishing on this morning. High water temperatures and wind. As a trout fisherman, when I encounter just one of these enemies, it can usually be dealt with.  When both are present, catching trout is almost always a difficult proposition.

But hey, not all is lost though, because a did get to spend a little time on the river (the place that I love) which makes for a better time than most anything else.  And the fall is right around the corner, which means that the trout fishing will really start to heat up, which is always a good thing. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Attempting To Catch Rainbow Trout With Mini Jigs In High Water & Wind

The other day my daughter and I headed out to my favorite trout river (The Swan River) in search of some rainbow trout. I knew that the weather had been cold and ugly for a day or two, but figured that since on this particular day we had partly cloudy skies that we would be fine. Before I made my first cast I noticed how high the water was.  Then, as my mini jig sailed through the air I noticed how windy it was.  "This might make for a challenging couple of hours", I thought to myself. 

We were fishing at the base of a small dam, so there was some water that was more than "fish-able", even though the rest of the river was very high and muddy.  And although cloudy, the water and current didn't seem too bad in the area that we chose to fish.  After getting snagged a few times using a 1/16 ounce jig head tipped with a Powerbait floating trout worm, I changed my jig head to a smaller 1/32 ounce which eliminated my getting snagged problem.  The problem with doing this was that it became even more difficult for me to cast my offering into the water with any distance, considering the wind.  Not to mention the fact that the only rod I brought fishing on that day was my 5 foot ultralight rod, which doesn't help either when it comes to casting distance. 

In the meantime my daughter was casting and retrieving a small Panther Martin spinner, which was brightly colored due to the murky water conditions.  Within 15 minutes she had landed a small lake trout.  I realize this might sound strange, a lake trout being in a small river like the Swan River, but be were fishing a couple of hundred yards from Flathead Lake.  And Flathead Lake is renowned for it's lake trout population.  You see, at this time of the year when the river is as high as it is, small lake trout will often run up the river in search of an easy meal.

I kept fishing my mini jig and although I wasn't getting hardly any bites from the area's I could reach with my short fishing rod, I did manage to hook and land a lake trout also.  And mine was quite nice, not by lake trout standards mind you, but by the size of the gear I was using.  The one I caught measured almost 24 inches and was quite heavy.  I would guess 5 or so pounds.

Although the rainbow trout weren't cooperating, at least the lake trout did and all in all it was a decent little day on the water.  And since this particular spot was new to me, I got some good reconisence in for the next time, when I guarantee you I will have my seven foot rod, so that I can cast to the really good looking trout water that I couldn't quite reach on this particular day. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Drift Fishing For Trout In High Water Conditions

At this time of the year, late spring to early summer, drift fishing for trout is a challenge to say the least.  The biggest challenge that any drift fisherman will face at this time of the year are the river conditions.  High flows make drift fishing much more difficult than it is at other times of the year, there's no doubt about it.  The good thing is that all is not lost when it comes to drift fishing for trout when the river flows are high as long as you make a few minor adjustments to your approach.

The first (and most important adjustment in my opinion) is the length of your fishing rod.  During most times of the year I will fish with a 4 and a half to 5 foot ultralight spinning rod.  But when the rivers are flowing high I switch to a six to seven and a half foot fishing rod. Why do I do this?  The answer is actually quite simple.  That extra foot to foot and a half in rod length gives me the ability to feel my bait much better.  With the longer rod I can keep my rod tip high in the air and follow my bait as is drifts with the river, something that is not possible when using my shorter ultralight rod.

The next thing to consider when drift fishing in high water conditions is the type of bait that you use.  Meal worms are an excellent bait for trout in muddy water conditions.  Rather than rehash old material you can read this post about drift fishing with meal worms for exactly how I like to accomplish this task. Don't forget that when current flows are very fast, the trout will seek the area's of the river where the current is a little less.  Concentrate your drift fishing efforts on these area's of the river.

The bottom line is that when the rivers are flowing high early in the year trout can still be caught, as long as you adjust your approach a little bit.  Make these minor adjustments to your approach and you'll be catching a stringer full of trout in no time. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Why a Bait Bag Is a MUST For Anyone Who Enjoys Fishing With Live Worms

The first question that might come to you mind after reading the title of this post is, "What exactly is a bait bag?" Well, the answer to this question is quite simple. It's just a little bag that carries live fishing worms, thus eliminating the need for toting around the container in which the worms were purchased.  In truth, carrying a container of live worms isn't a big deal if you are fishing from the bank or a boat, but for anyone who like to move around when they are fishing a bait bag really comes in handy.

For me personally my bait bag is a must, because I prefer to fish the flowing waters of small rivers and streams. I like to wear waders and drift fish up and down the river and live worms are often my go to bait. With my bait bag, the live worms that are being used as bait are literally at my fingertips at all times.  This makes baiting up and re-baiting my hooks a breeze.  I don't have to dig through my fishing vest for a container of worms, then open said container and dig a worm out, only to have to do the exact same thing the next time that a worm is needed.  This "digging around" for my bait while on the water, is a huge time waster, but this problem is solved with the simple bait bag.

So how exactly does this must have fishing accessory work?  This is also very simple.   First off the bait bag is attached to your fishing vest or shirt.  Next, live fishing worms are simply taken from the container that they are purchased in and placed into the bag.  Not the dirt or worm bedding mind you, just the worms themselves.  Once the worms are in the bag they just sit there waiting for their turn.  When one is needed, you simply take your thumb and fore finger, reach into the bag and pluck a worm out.

This incredibly simple device saves a ton of time for me, time that ends up being spent fishing for (and catching) fish, rather than searching for and using my favorite bait, the live worm.  So, if you a person who enjoys fishing with live worms, and especially if drift fishing is a fishing tactic that you employ, then a bait bag needs to be a part of your fishing arsenal.