Drifting bait for trout can be an exciting way to pass the day away. You don’t have to spend a fortune on gear and tackle unless you want to. Many areas are stocking trout ion the rivers from spring through fall so your odds are good that you will feel a rainbow tugging at your line with a little patience and a little skill. Here are a few pointers and some directions for you to go in.
Tackle Selection shouldn’t break your wallet or give you an aneurism. There’s a lot of rods available mainstream from local retailers that will foot your needs for trout fishing. Many major department stores carry rods sufficient to angle your way to happiness at affordable prices. a. A line weight between 4-6 lbs. should be in order. Anything heavier and your likely to just be drowning your bait. Trout have keen eyesight and an uncanny ability to spot unnatural baits floating through the water currents. Heavy line causes baits to behave in a manner that throws a caution flag to wary trout. Save your heavy line for catfishing.
Rod and Reel selection should be catered to the line sizes mentioned. A rod that is designed to handle a 4 to 6-pound fishing line will cast much better and give you a much better overall performance with a lighter line. A slow to medium action rod will be much more enjoyable over a stiff broom handle. A more limber rod will take more of the shocks and stresses that trout throw at the light line while fighting you and the current.
Hook size and selection should also be a very important factor to look at. Hooks that are too large won’t be taken, and those too small will be swallowed. Small treble hooks in the 18 to 24 size and circle hooks in size 10 should work great. The weight from larger hooks may cause a lot of hang-ups and drifting problems. Stay away from large heavy hooks.
Terminal Tackle Selection is a minimal with bait fishing for river trout. A pack of small bb split shot and hooks is a bare necessity that will land you lots of trout efficiently. Bobbers and floats are not necessary for this method of fishing. Trout, big ones, are likely to be lurking near the deep water and under boulders and undercuts where a bobber isn’t as likely to get near or underneath. A Carolina rig with a weight, swivel, and then leader is also a great method for drifting bait. With the leader rig drifting height can be more regulated by letting more slack out. The leader method requires more knots and tackle to buy and retie in the event of becoming snagged on unmovable objects. The split shot method allows for very fast adjustments made to depth on the fly and is much faster to retie than the leader method. The split shot should be placed between 12 to 18 inches from the hook. This allows the bait to flow freely and to remain above the bottom to help avoid becoming fouled and hung in rocks and debris.
Baits such as Salmon Eggs are a very common and effective bait for drifting through trout waters. The salmon eggs are dyed bright red to aid in their visibility and appeal. Several bright red eggs on a small treble hook make a fish catching cluster. More than one egg per-hook seems to work the best and on larger fish as well although a single egg is more than apt to catch fish. Salmon eggs are available at most tackle shops and department stores in small glass jars for several dollars a jar. Pautzke’s salmon eggs are a favorite among many anglers and the quality is very good as well.
The Power Bait name is synonymous with easy trout fishing. Molding a ball of your favorite dough bait on the hook is a great way to start catching fish. Colors vary by stream and locale as well as by the anglers preference. Power Bait floats and tends to keep your hook off the bottom of the river to help avoid snags. Floating power bait also allows drifting bait over weeds and debris with much less difficulty. The opportunity to drift your bait where other anglers may not be able to fish is always a good way to catch fish that other anglers are not fishing for. Power Bait can also be molded into various shapes and sizes to mimic other baits that may occur naturally in the area. Shaped baits also may give more action to the bait in the current causing curiosity and interest that may not be there otherwise.
Live Baits such as worms and insects are very effective. Crickets, mealworms, and earthworms work great for drift fishing. Natural baits may be taken by wary and artificial shy fish. Countless insects are naturally eaten by fish every day. Insects and worms, whether they are from above or below the water, are a staple food oftentimes. Small minnows and baitfish may also provide some interesting fishing as well.
Current is a major consideration in picking an area to fish. Many streams and rivers are fast-flowing and are seemingly unfishable. Do not pass all of them over or you will miss fish. Trout will live in fast water but they do not swim in that current all day long. Large rocks, debris, and holes in the bottom all create eddies and slow places in the water column. Immediately in front of, under, and behind boulders are areas trout will collect, because there is little or no current. The current however brings to them food, and easily. Lazily lounging around until something floats by the trout will dart out into the current to retrieve the item and back to the cover and tranquility of their buffered zone.
Many times the edges of fast currents harbor slower currents that may even flow in the opposite direction of the main channel. These areas are the ideal place for trout to hang out waiting for an easy meal. Look for areas that are frothy white with slow smooth places behind them. Be on the lookout for currents that have contrasting speeds or direction. Finding slow spots before after and under boulders and other objects can really pay off. These places produce trout. Before you pass over some of the places give them a try and always be willing to try something new every time you go fishing. You catch ratio will begin to climb with only one or two more trips out.
Obviously a current that skips and hops your bait and sinker above the water like a surfer is not a good area but often throwing through into those fast waters will allow the bait to swing around in the current and offer the sides of the current a place your bait can sink and drift naturally along. Remember that trout will stay in slow current areas waiting near currents that bring along food. The trout are usually not very far from the current that offers free and easy meals.
Swinging bait through the current is not rocket science, it is also not always easy to do. Learning how far out to cast so that your bait will drift in the precise place you want it to will take some practice and a little skill. Generally casting upstream and across offers the easiest drift and most productive one as well. The more are you cover per cast means potentially more fish will see your bait. You will learn to feel the bottom and tell when the weight is slipping across the bottom as you want. Often only a small uplift of your rod tip will free a stuck weight and allow it to free drift downstream.
Retrieve your line when the swing has finished downstream from you. You can reel the line in directly but another good practice is to reel a bit of line in lifting your rod tip and letting the bait tick back down to the bottom. Repeat this until your line has been returned to your reel. This only takes a few seconds per cast and offers more fish your bait.
Watch your line and be aware of abnormal ticks and bumps that feel like a fish bite. Often times the trout will stay in the same place or very near where you got the bite and a line that quits drifting is a telltale sign that you may have a fish ready to be fought and reeled in.
Avoid keeping a large amount of slack in the line as you will not be able to notice a bite if you should happen to get one. A little slack allows for the trout to take the bait without feeling the tension of your pole but too much is not good and you are likely to get hung up more often. A line that suddenly gets a lot of slack in and begins heading upstream is a very good sign your attention and patience have paid off.
Sweep the rod tip to set the hook instead of jerking the lips off as you might with a bass. Remember that you have a light line that is not for horsing in a large trout. Retrieve your slack from the line and sweep the rod tip against the direction the line is heading. You should begin to feel the tension and headshaking that is notorious for having a trout hooked.
Remember to keep your rod tip high and your drag set properly to allow for shock to be absorbed by the line. An overly tight drag will break your line easily and all the work and anxiety are wasted. Keeping your rod tip high and drag properly set will help avoid line breaking.
In the event the fish is headed for an obstruction you are sure will break the line one can either swing the rod against the weight and direction of the fish or slightly tighten the drag. Changing tension on the fish will sometimes change its direction away from an area that may cause an early and uncontrolled catch and release.
Keep the fish’s head below the waterline in an attempt to keep it from shaking its head violently. This head-shaking along with the weight of the fish can snap line more easily as there is more pressure on the line. Water offers much more resistance than air does and this slows the fish while it is flipping back and forth. There’s no need to get in a hurry now and risk breaking off your fish.
Netting should be done after the fish is fairly well tired out. If you are catching and releasing then netting early will aid in releasing unharmed fish but will result in more break-offs. Tiring fish out and netting head first is the best method. After tiring the fish get the fish going headfirst into the net. Always avoid bumping the line with the net or other items.
The stream and river have plenty of places to try to keep a hooked fish away from as well. Never pick up your fish by the line unless is small. A 4-pound line can easily snap with a head shake or two. Plopping back into the water swimming away is not a time to start thinking about how to net a fish properly.
Catch and release bait fishing is possible. It would be best to set your hook as soon as possible to help avoid the trout swallowing the bait into the stomach. In the event that trout swallow the hook cut the line off as close to the hook as possible without damaging the delicate trout. Releasing the fish as soon as possible and placing them headfirst into the current to revive is always a good idea.
Fly anglers and artificials aren’t the only anglers that can release fish unharmed. Undersized or fish that you may not want to keep should always be released unharmed if at all possible. It is irresponsible and unethical to simply yank the hook from the trout and lob it back into the water. A few seconds to properly release a fish can pay off next season or maybe your next fishing trip when you may catch that same fish again.
Use these simple tactics to help bring more fish to your creel and more memories to your life memories of streams and rivers. Trout fishing doesn’t have to be difficult and expensive. This method is easy and effective and is also a great way to introduce children to the marvels of outdoor recreation.
The most important thing is to remember to have fun and be safe. Leave some for next time and enjoy the scenery. There’s always more to fishing than catching but catching seems to be a lot more fun. to be the most fun.