Locations, Gear, & Fish Safety
A collaboration of efforts from Chris Cook, Dylan Napoleone, Trevor Slifka, and Blake Tollefson
Organized by Blake Tollefson
As touched on in the last write-up, stream trout provide some unique opportunities for anglers across the United States. Some of the primary appeals to trout anglers include the minimal gear requirements needed for success, as well as the ease of accessibility.
A 5.5 to 7 foot ultralight to light rod, paired up with a 500 to 1000 series reel, fits most stream trout fishing applications very well. Rods on the shorter side are favorable because they allow for fishing in tight quarters. Stouter rods and reels may be required for fishing bigger water.
Fluorocarbon line has some significant advantages when targeting trout in small streams. First and foremost, it is less visible to wary trout in clear waters. It is also more resistant to abrasions than monofilament, which makes it a better choice when dealing with rocky bottoms and woody structure.
Micro soft plastics, inline spinners, and small crankbaits are top contenders for catching stream trout across the United States. Paddletails and other soft plastics, like the Eurotackle B-Vibe and Fat Assassin, are extremely effective options. The B-Vibe works well via cast and retrieve methods, acting as an excellent baitfish imitation. The Fat Assassin can be twitched in current seams, or hopped along the bottom of a stream. Micro crankbaits, like the Eurotackle Z-Viber, as well as inline spinners are most effective when used via cast and retrieve methods.
“Match the Hatch” presentations like Eurotackle’s Stone Fly and Anisoptera have also proven themselves on the trout front. The Anisoptera is designed to replicate to the larval state of the dragonfly, but also makes an effective hellgrammite imitation. Both soft plastics are highly realistic and irresistible to hungry trout.
Trout tend to spook easily, so walking quietly is critical for success. If you are fishing from the bank, keep your distance until you are ready to fish. If wading is more your style, then proceed with caution and walk softly. With endless miles of trout water to cover, staying mobile is important for continued success. Don’t spend too long on one spot. Make a few casts at each spot, and if you don’t have any success move on to a new location.
Trout will hold in a variety of areas depending on the stream. However, there are a few common areas that will typically congregate fish:
DEEP HOLES/POOLS: Holes tend to be one of the easiest spots to fish as they are typically where current will slow. They also tend to hold some of the larger fish in a stream. As the water warms throughout the year, trout will seek refuge in these deeper, cooler areas. Due to the number of fish they congregate and their ability to fish easy, pools often receive more pressure than other areas.
CURRENT SEAMS: Current seams are another great area that hold trout. Seams are created when the flow water is obstructed. Common obstructions include a point, rock, or brush. Typically, an eddy of slower water will form on the downstream edge of these obstructions. Seams provide a prime spot for trout to ambush prey that is carried along by the current.
CUT BANKS: Less obvious fishing areas may appear relatively featureless at first glance. However, some specific, small areas have proven to be effective for holding trout. Stretches of undercut banks and minor erosion provide excellent trout habitat. The undercut areas provide shade and cooler water for trout to reside. They are often adjacent to easy feeding areas as well.
If you are struggling to find some new fishing areas, there are tools readily available to track down some less fished areas. Aerial maps and applications like Google Earth are a great resource for locating areas off the beaten path. They allow you to scout areas that are not easily viewed via foot or vehicle travel.
Trout by the Season
SPRING: Trout tend to be pretty active this time of year, as temperatures are on the rise. Water temperatures will typically hover around the low to mid 40s ℉. Freshly stocked trout are in abundance and are feeding heavily. Moving baits, such as the Eurotackle B-Vibe, small crankbaits, and in-line spinners, are effective choices for these active fish. For lethargic fish, a finesse approach may prove to be necessary. Primary finesse baits include the Anisoptera and Stone Fly, both of which are effective at matching the hatch. These plastics fish well paired up with a small fly hook and split shot or small jig.
SUMMER: Depending on the location, trout fishing can become increasingly tough as the summer progresses. Warm water tends to have negative effects on trout, as they become more stressed at an accelerated rate. Brook trout are among the most sensitive trout species, followed by brown trout and rainbow trout. All three species are impacted differently, but warm water in general creates a bad equation for trout. The best approach in the summer months is to stick to moving bodies of water, which will tend to supply to coolest water around. Natural presentations (match the hatch) are among the most effective during this time of year.
FALL: Provided that your state’s trout season is still open, the fall can provide some of the best fishing of the year. Water temperatures gradually fall and trout activity starts to increase. Fall trout can be approached similar to spring time patterns with active, aggressive baits leading the charge.
Although trout are pound for pound one of the greatest fighters in the fish community, there are particularly susceptible to harm. First and foremost, if you plan catch and release, keep fish in the water as much as possible. Have your camera and hook remover handy so you can return fish to the water as quickly as possible. New tools, such as rubber nets, put less harm on fish making them quick to release. Be sure to wet your hands prior to handling trout, as it will minimize the reduction of their protective slime coating.
Weather conditions are also a big factor in fish safety. During the colder months, it is vital that fish are kept in the water as much as possible. As we progress into the warmer months, catch and release is not recommended. Due to the amount of energy trout expend, high water temperatures are not favorable.