Early Season Stream Trout
Winter is coming to an end and anglers across the Midwest are chomping at the bit to get a taste of open water again. There’s a few problems - some lakes are still ice covered as far as the eye can see and the majority of game fish seasons are still closed. Fortunately, for anglers that fish Trout, a number of streams are open to catch and release fishing.
Trout fishing provides anglers the opportunity to get off the beaten path and explore a place of solitude, which is something that’s not always available for more traditional anglers. In many states across the Midwest, streams, ponds, and lakes teeming with Trout are readily accessible to most anglers.
Conservation groups, as well as state and federal agencies put a great deal of time and resources into ensuring anglers have opportunities for stream trout. Countless dollars and efforts are placed into fisheries management, Trout habitat, and stocking programs, which helps ensure catchable Trout populations of Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Brown Trout are available to anglers.
In comparison to other styles of fishing, gear requirements for stream trout are particularly minimal. Most trout fishing locations are best accessed via foot travel, so carrying all the gear on your person is often a necessity. As a result, a backpack, sling pack, or vest is a must have. Many options are available on the market, so do some research to find out which pack or vest will complement your fishing style. A high-quality net is another excellent tool and helps land fish swiftly and safely. Specialty trout nets have been developed that make for easy transport and help to protect fish from harm.
When it comes to rods and reels, certain variables, like location, fish size, and lure choice, impact which combinations are the most effective.
For conventional anglers, an ultralight to light rod in 5-to-7-foot range will cover most inland Trout fishing applications well. Depending on the cover, anglers should opt for a shorter or longer rod. In heavy cover situations, like thick brush, shorter rods will be more effective. St. Croix Rods redesigned Trout Series and Trout Pack Series offer options from 4’10” to 7’3” with powers ranging from ultralight to medium. These rods are designed by trout anglers, for Trout anglers – and will cover anything an angler would toss for a hungry T rout. Another plus – these rods are available in one-, two-, and three-piece options.
Rods should be paired with appropriately sized reels in the 500 to 2500 size categories and spooled with light monofilament or fluorocarbon line (four to six pound).
Fluorocarbon is advantageous for trout fishing as it is more abrasion resistant and less visible to wary fish than other line classes.
Tackle selection resembles what one might find in a Panfish angler’s tackle box. Soft plastics and small hardbaits are top choices for inland stream trout in most bodies of water.
The Eurotackle B-Vibe is a top choice for Trout year round. The bait’s ultra-soft composition allows it to be worked a variable speeds. Pairing with the appropriate size Soft Lock Jig Head will allow the bait to be worked in all areas of the water column.
Other soft plastics that bode well for trout fishermen include the Anisoptera and Stone Fly, which are perfect for imitating the stuff that trout actually like to eat.
More aggressive presentations for trout include small jerkbaits, like the Z-Spender, and crankbaits, like the Z-Cranker. Both excel in different situations but are ideal for picking off the more aggressive fish. A steady retrieve is an effective approach for fishing these types of lures. Because it suspends, the Z-Spender is also a
great bait to use for jerk-pause methods.
Trout will hold in a variety of areas depending on the stream. However, there are few common areas that will typically congregate fish including deep holes, current seams, and structure.
Regardless of where you target Trout, walking and wading quietly is vital to success. Trout are extremely wary and it doesn’t take much to push them out of a location. Challenge yourself to make long, precise casts in an effort to avoid spooking fish. It is also vital to watch your shadows to go undetected.
Mobility can be extremely important for continued success. Don’t spend too long at one spot. A few casts per spot is all that is necessary. If limited success ensues, then move along.
Trout are pound for pound one of the greatest fighters in the fish community. Despite their relentless will power and combative nature, they are particularly susceptible to harm. Stream trout species are covered in a slime coating that protects the fish from disease and infection. Be sure to wet your hands prior to handling trout, as it will help to prevent the removal of their protective coat of slime. If you plan to catch and release, keep the fish in the water as much as possible. High quality rubberized nets will protect fish from harm while handling. If you plan to take a picture, have a camera and hook remover handy so you can release the fish as quickly as possible. The less handling is always better – especially for Trout.
Be mindful of the regulations for the area(s) you fish. Depending on the state only certain streams may be open, and a trout stamp is likely required in order fish for trout in designated streams and lakes.