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First Day Trout Tactics

The first day of the regular trout season is Saturday, April 13 with an 8 a.m. starting time and weather permitting I’m sure there will be a good number of anxious fishermen lining the banks of area streams. I’m sure too that there will be a wide variety of baits and lures as well as

The first day of the regular trout season is Saturday, April 13 with an 8 a.m. starting time and weather permitting I’m sure there will be a good number of anxious fishermen lining the banks of area streams. I’m sure too that there will be a wide variety of baits and lures as well as an assortment of rigs and presentations represented on the opening day. So, what is the best approach for that first day of trout season? Well, I don’t really know. I do know that a variety of baits, lures, and presentations will take trout but as to which one is the best is hard to say.

Like a lot of fishermen when I started trout fishing as a teenager I used bait — more specifically I used salmon eggs. I used salmon eggs because the guy that took me under his wing was an expert salmon egg fisherman and he taught me the tricks of the trade. We caught and released plenty of fish in those early years, but I soon found that using other baits also worked. Almost any bait allowed to role naturally along or near the bottom on a tight line will catch its share of fish, and that includes salmon eggs, worms, meal worms and even a lot of the power baits available today.

There’s another bait that is also a great early season producer but requires a different presentation, and that is minnows. Most successful minnow fishermen use a needle to pull a loop of line through the minnow’s mouth and out the anal; a double or treble hook is placed in the hoop and pulled back up tight to the anal fin. This rig is usually fished across and down with a steady retrieve. Be ready for some smashing hits.

For those who like fishing artificial lures, it’s hard to beat the many plastic or wooden minnow imitations available today. Some float and some run deeper; in the early season, I would want to run a bit below the surface. Try a steady retrieve but don’t be afraid to vary the retrieve either. Another minnow imitation that’s been around a long time but still produces is the in-line spinner. This lure, made mostly of metal with a flashing metal blade tends to run a bit deeper and generally works best with a steady retrieve. I have a couple of fishing friends who fish exclusively with in-line spinners, and they keep careful records of their catch. Between the two of them, they will literally catch and release several thousand trout a season; if fished right it is deadly.

Don’t think for one minute that the fly-fisherman has to take a back seat in the early season — nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, fishing flies is extremely versatile and can be very effective all year long. My own preference for trout fishing is with a fly rod and artificial flies. More often than not most of us fly fishing types will be fishing nymphs, streamers (minnow imitations) or some other wet fly in the opening days. In those early days, however, if we spot a trout take a fly on the surface, there is often a quick change to some type of floating imitation. Often when trout start feeding on flies on the surface, they will completely ignore all other baits except for the particular fly they are taking. You may want to have some number twelve Quill Gordons ready for that first week or two.

While it’s obvious that a variety of lures, baits, and presentations will probably work in those early days of trout fishing at the same time, it’s also true that what you choose to use is probably less important than how you use it. The “how you use it” part is actually a whole lot of other stories yet to come. In the meantime — good luck. You may also want to limit your catch — that way there will be more to catch on the next outing.

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