Thursday, September 28, 2017

As The Weather Cools Off The Trout Fishing Is Heating Up. Who Doesnt Love Fall Trout Fishing?

So I headed down to the same are of the Swan River that I fished last week, but this time rather than walking along the bank down to the really big "hole" I decided to wade straight across the river. You see, I know that there is a nice hole on that side of the river as well, which I figured needed a little attention too. And being on my little "mini jig kick" (which I referred to in my last post) you can imagine what my bait of choice was going to be on this particular day.  In case you were wondering, the grainy picture to the right shows you the exact rig.

Once I got across the river and worked my way into casting distance of the hole itself I began to drift fish.After two casts I realized that I needed more weight, so I pinched a single split shot sinker onto my line twelve or so inches above the mini jig.  This did the trick, because I began catching rainbows from 8 to 12 inches every other cast or so.  I even changed my trout worm color to natural and the hungry rainbow didn't mind a bit!  After working my way through the hole I waded down river to the BIG hole.

While the action wasn't as "hot and heavy" as it was upstream I did catch a small trout or two and missed what felt like a very nice one.  I then did exactly what I did the prior week.  I switched from a Powerbait trout worm body to a Powerbait Power Nymph body.  I know, it was just like the prior trip and can you guess what happened? 

Once again within a cast or two I felt the familiar "bump, bump", but then a very heavy pull.  I set the hook and immediately felt the weight of a large fish.  "Oh Jesus", I thought to myself.  I figured that this trout didn't realize that he was hooked because judging by the weight, if he made a run, I was in trouble!  So I kept reeling in slowly and could feel the monster shaking its head back and forth the whole time.  It just wasn't making sense, because a rainbow trout of this weight NEVER behaves like this one was.

I then got the fish close enough to see him and much to my chagrin, it was a lake trout!  A five or six pound lake trout, which on my four foot ultralight rod felt like a monstrosity.  I reeled the big fella in, unhooked him, then sent him on his way.  I then couldn't help but think about was terrible fighters lake trout are!  In hindsight, every one that I have ever caught has been just like this they initially bite, then get hooked, and all but roll over, just waiting to be winched in.  Oh well, it makes for a decent little story and the rainbows made for a nice little day.  All in all a good day on the water without a doubt.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sometimes The Trout Fishing Gods Smile Upon You

For the past few weeks, here in Northwest Montana we have been dealing with a very strange phenomenon.  There are wild fires burning all around us and the smoke from these fires has been literally choking us every afternoon (and even some evenings).  For the past few weeks the air has looked similar to fog, with the difference being that the air smells of a burning camp fire.  It is quite annoying and quite unhealthy, but what are you going to do, right?  You just have to deal with it and wait for cooler weather and/or rain to help stamp out the fires, thus ending the problem.

Well, with a cold front on the way everyone has been quite excited, hoping that the front would bring with it some much needed rain.  While I certainly want nature to give us a hand with the fires, upon hearing this news all I could think was, "I had better get out there and try some trout fishing ahead of this anticipated cold front."  You see, the trout fishing is usually pretty good ahead of cold fronts, so even though I didn't have a ton of time, I headed out for a quick fishing trip.

For most of this fishing season I have been on a mini jig kick, using a 1/32 or 1/16 ounce jig head tipped with a Powerbait product (trout worm, nymph, or mouse tail) as bait on almost all of my trout fishing excursions.   I still drift fish, just like I always have with the difference being the bait.  And while it hasn't been as productive as when I use live worms as my trout bait, it has been plenty successful in it's own right.

So as I worked my way into position at the head of a big hole on the Swan River, I tied on a 1/32 ounce jig, tipped it with a natural colored Powerbait trout worm and began to drift fish.  After a few casts I realized That I needed more weight, so I added a split shot sinker to my line twelve or so inches above my jig.  I continued drift fishing down the hole for the next forty five minuted or so, switching to a pink trout worm and then a white mouse tail without as much as a sniff from an inquisitive trout!

I was getting frustrated, because this RARELY happens to me here in Montana, and was starting to think that getting skunked was a distinct possibility.  "Oh well", I thought to myself as I slipped a Pumpkin/Chartreuse Power Nymph onto my now 1/8 ounce jig head, "let's give the nymph a shot."  Within 2 casts I felt the familiar "tap, tap" that usually means a hungry trout and I set the hook!  My reel immediately started to buzz as the trout ran like an angry bull out of a rodeo shoot.  "This might be a nice one", I thought to myself as I adjusted my drag slightly.

With a few minutes I was admiring and subsequently releasing a very nice 17 inch cutt/bow (which is a rainbow cutthroat hybrid for the uninitiated) and was quite pleased that "the skunk" didn't happen on this particular day.  I made a few more casts, but figured that it was best to 'end on a high note' on this day.  After all, the fishing Gods were kind enough to smile upon me (even though it took whet seemed to be a while), and I was good with that.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Being Prepared For A Little Fall Trout Fishing

It has been a long, hot, and particularly dry summer here in Northwest Montana and my motivation to get out there chase the trout around has suffered because of it.  My motivation for trout fishing often wanes in the summer time, but this year has seemed particular bad.  That's okay though, because I'm even more excited for the fall, when I know I will be out there on the Swan River catching some nice trout.

As everyone is more than likely aware, the fall of the year is my favorite and most productive time of the year for trout fishing.  There is simply nothing better than standing in the flowing waters of a river when the air is crisp and clean and drift fishing for a rainbow trout or two.  To me personally this is a little bit of heaven.

But, if you want to be successful when fishing for fall trout it's important that you are prepared, and what exactly do I mean by this?   Well, it's pretty  simple really.  First of all it means that you go through your fishing vest and remove any unwanted/unneeded items, as well as stocking up on the items that you know you will be using during your fall trout fishing excursions.

Next and maybe most importantly is the condition of your fishing line.  As you know as trout fishermen we tend to use fishing line that is quite light (often 2 or 4 pound test) and light fishing line becomes worn quite easily and thus needs to be changed.  For this reason I make it a habit to always discard my fishing line and add a fresh spool of line to all of my reels before the fall trout fishing season begins.  Doing this not only makes for easier casts, it also gives you confidence that your line won't fail when you're fighting one of those heavy fall trout!

Keep these simple tips in mind and you will have a much more productive and enjoyable time of the water this fall fishing season.  Remember the more prepared you are the more efficient you will be on the water, which means that you get more time fishing and thus more time catching fall trout.  

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.