Trout is a name used to describe many species of freshwater fish belonging to the subfamily Salmoninae; the fish are related to salmon and char. Even though all types of trout are freshwater fish, some can spend time at sea before returning to freshwater to spawn.
Where to find trout
Easily found in many spots all over the world, they are not too difficult to catch, and their delicious taste and beautifully colored scales make them a desirable catch.
Most often inhabiting colder, mountain waters, the fish usually reside in rivers and creeks, running up and down their length.
They live in lakes too, and a consensus is that the more remote the waters are, the more chances of productive and exciting fishing you have. Those living in deep lakes can grow to big sizes, putting up fights like bigger, oceanic fish.
Gear and bait
One significant advantage when trout fishing is the lack of necessity of expensive, high-end equipment. A lightweight 6-foot spinning, ultralight telescoping fishing rod is enough, as the fish are not too heavy. Light line is recommended, and anything between 2 to 8-pound test fluorocarbon line should be enough.
Powerbait (trout marshmallows, dough bait substitutes) only works for stocked trout. It grows out in hatcheries or farms and is usually fed with pellets, imitated by the dough baits. Natives, however, do not recognize pellets as their typical fishing bait and there is little chance that they would eat something they have never seen before.
The lures used for trout fishing must imitate naturally occurring food. Critters are great at mimicking grasshoppers and other large bugs which can fall into the water – considered easy snacks, they work just fine.
Swimbaits are suitable as big trout can feast on different smaller fish swimming around. Worm imitators are excellent too, but they might also attract other breeds; bright colors are recommended for trout.
Natural lures which usually work fine include salmon eggs, as trout are known for scavenging spawning beds of other fish. Worms are ideal too; small fish can also be used, provided you have caught some on previous occasions.
Techniques to catch trout
With this simple and inexpensive equipment, you are ready to start fishing. There are many techniques used for trout, some being more complex while others are as simple as possible, requiring no extraordinary skill or experience.
An essential thing to keep in mind is to keep a low profile and be as stealthy as possible. Throughout their evolution, trout have faced predators from above – bears and fishing wildlife being the most well-known example.
Once they see you, they will be wary and go into hiding, so going by unnoticed will increase your chances of being productive. You should also try a cast or two to edge waters.
A fishing technique popular with beginners is suspending bait under a bobber. Attach a small lead weight above the hook to make it sink faster and 1.5 to 3 feet above it, tie a red-white bobber. Cast to a place likely to be rich in trout and wait until the fish bites. When using this technique, look after weed beds to suspend the bait above them.
Fishing with bait off the bottom is a method suitable for deep water, where the larger trout can be found. There will be no bobber, and the lead weight is attached 1.5 feet above the hook. After being cast, the lead weight will sink while the bait will float, hovering above the bottom of the lake.
Casting can be used as well, provided you have a spinner. It replicates the colors, sizes, and movements of small minnows and worms, food enjoyed by trout. Cast it over the water and let it sink for a short while, then start reeling it in. Until you obtain a result, vary the retrieving speed and also the amount of time you allow the spinner for sinking.
After you’re done catching the prey, you can use a good fish fillet knife to carve and cook it.
Fishing in shallow water
The techniques mentioned above are great for lakes; when fishing in rivers or streams, you have to adapt to the situation you encounter. The only circumstance when you can, however, use the still water methods for catching trout is when you meet a point where the river slows and deepens into a pool with reduced current.
In a stream, you can use a spinner or a spoon; cast them slightly upriver, reeling in slack line to keep it tense. The current will carry the spinner, giving you a natural drift, which might trick fish into believing the bait is safe to attack.
Once the spoon or spinner is sent towards the banks, start retrieving it with moderate speed. Make sure that there are no branches or woods downstream to prevent getting the hook and line tangled.
Another technique guaranteed to work requires you to use the natural current to drift an artificial bait or a live worm with enough split shot to get it close to the bottom. A bobber can be added to help you see where the bait is drifting.
Finding the place most densely populated by trout is not too difficult, as there are some places they prefer: edges, currents and still water pools occurring on fast, mountain rivers. Deep waters are rich in larger trout – aim for them if you want a great game.
Other useful tips
Another advice which increases productivity is using flashy artificial lures and hooks. Trout reacts to bright colors, flash, and motion as they have good eyesight. Like all fish, they have a great sense of smell too, so smelly baits are another trick guaranteed to work.
Trolling covers a large surface and increases your chance of finding where the trout are located. Stay on the move, as the fish will not get near you; instead, you have to see them. If you do not obtain a bite, change the direction you are casting in or move to another place which seems rich in fish.
The perfect time for trout fishing is at dawn and late in the afternoon. Low light conditions move the trout towards strong currents where food is more likely to be caught in and drifted towards them. The reduced luminosity also sends them towards the surface and closer to the shore in the case of still waters. Make sure you wear appropriate clothing such as men’s or women’s waders, too.
Last but not least, keep in mind the regulations. There are periods when it is illegal to take the fish with you, while at other times the amount you can take home for cooking is limited to a certain weight. Always check the website of the Wildlife Department before going fishing, to avoid getting fined.