A look at some of the best offerings to tempt a trout this month and beyond.
Regardless of whether there is a closed season with opening day festivities or year-round angling in your home waters, April fishing is synonymous with trout. Even many hardcore saltwater anglers find themselves walking down a trout stream at one point or another in the 4th month. And while the trout purists are a group all unto themselves, for most of us trout fishing is a simple leisurely activity that provides a way to bridge the gap from winter shack-nasties to spring success. Nonetheless, certain baits have their time and place on both native trout and fresh stockies alike. For the purposes of today’s column, I will skip fly fishing as it simply isn’t my area of expertise—perhaps I’ll visit it next spring.
Whether cast, jigged or trolled, spoons such as the Kastmaster, Thomas Buoyant, Little Cleo, Tom’s Taz Lure and others are great options for actively-feeding fish. When the appropriate size lure is chosen, you can just as easily fish them in a deep-woods stream as an expansive lake. When a standard cast-and-retrieve isn’t working, or when hunting fish in deep water, a count-down method can be used. Cast the spoon out and let it sink for a pre-determined amount of time before beginning the retrieve. Make note of the sink time when you begin catching as more fish will often be found there. In deep lakes, don’t be afraid to bounce the spoon off the bottom—you might just end up catching the biggest fish of the day!
Much like the spoon, an inline spinner has long been a hot trout lure. Whether you throw a Mepp’s, Rooster Tail, Blue Fox, Panther Martin or local favorite, this is a great searching lure when fish have spread out from where they were stocked. I like to set one line out with bait of some sort and then prospect the nearby waters with a spinner on a second rod. They are available in a wide range of sizes, and as a bonus there probably isn’t a fish in your lake or stream that won’t strike a spinner so your odds of simply catching are greatly improved.
Probably not the first thing thought of by the average trout fisherman, jigs are a deadly option nonetheless. Soft plastics such as Trout Magnets, Gulp or even an old-school curly-tail grub can be mounted on a jig head and cast to schooling fish. Small hair jigs can be extremely effective on heavily-pressured fish as well as holdovers that have become more accustomed to feeding on naturally-occurring baits as opposed to hatchery pellets. One trick for using a jig of any sort in a stream is to swing it below a float and let it ride down current on an open bail.
While hard baits such as the Yo-Zuri Pins Minnow have been popular with trouters for many years, other options including the Yo-Zuri crystal minnow, Rebel minnow and the Rapala minnow should not be overlooked! Many a big brown trout has fallen for a large hard bait swum in the shallows around dusk, and they also produce in fast-moving streams where they can be held in the current or swung into a seam or deep pool.
The word “PowerBait” is almost synonymous these days with trout fishing. Whether you use dough, nuggets, worms or eggs, this stuff is like crack to a trout. I’ve had days where I almost didn’t have time to set a second rod at a stocked pond as trout after trout slammed a hook tipped with PowerBait. It’s easy to use, always at the ready and lasts a long time on the hook.
The Real Deal
From egg sacks to garden worms to grass shrimp (where legal) to minnows, it is tough to beat the appeal of a live bait for trout. They can be fished on the bottom, free-floated in a stream or hung below a bobber. I fish some tidal streams that dump into the salt and have the occasional sea-run trout that noses up above the salt line. I fish with grass shrimp that I trap in the days leading up to a trip, and I can even start a bit of a feeding frenzy with a regular handful or two of shrimp tossed out into the current.
So with states across the Northeast stocking hundreds of thousands of fresh brown, brook, rainbow, tiger and even golden trout over the past few weeks, now is the time to dig out that freshwater rod, grab a few lures or baits and head to your local trout stream to dust the winter cobwebs off your casting arm!