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What’s the Best Choice for Opening Day?

So, what is the best presentation on the upcoming opening day of our statewide trout season? Well, to be honest, I really don’t know the answer to that question, but before we get into that, there are other scenarios that should be factored in before heading out.

High on my list are the water conditions on opening day. It’s not very likely that water levels are going to be too low and too clear, but the reverse is very possible. High, muddy water after previous heavy rains can ruin a good day of trout fishing in a hurry. These conditions are difficult for wading and can be downright dangerous. Also, trout are hard to spot in dingy water, and they too will have more difficulty in spotting your presentation. If there are high, muddy stream conditions, you may be better off heading to a local trout-stocked lake.

Another factor I always consider before heading out is wind conditions. I would dare say that probably the biggest enemy of fishermen is how much wind we may have to contend with on any given day. I’ve fished on rainy days and had great success. I’ve fished on cold days and had success, and the same goes for warm days, but wind can be the toughest. One of the biggest problems with wind is it doesn’t allow for good line control, which is an important factor in being able to detect a strike and set a hook. Wind also makes accurate casting much more difficult.

As I already mentioned, temperatures are probably the least of my concerns since I’ve caught fish in a wide range of temperatures. The important point is that you prepare yourself, especially for cold temps. If you plan to wade, you best add some extra insulated layers before you head waist-deep out into the creek. You’d be surprised how cold and numb your legs can get after standing in 40-degree creek water for an hour.

So, assuming wind, water conditions, and temperatures are all satisfactory, what’s the best choice of lure, bait, and presentation for open day? Like I said at the beginning of this piece, I don’t really have that answer, but I know there are many lures, baits, and techniques that will all produce fish.

Probably the most important thing is to use something you are competent with, and that has been known to produce on previous occasions. I know some expert in-line spinner fishermen who will be out casting their own homemade spinners, and I’ve been with them when they cleaned house. Trout eat minnows, and spinners imitate fleeing minnows.

On the other hand, real minnows can also be a deadly choice if rigged and worked properly. An assortment of baits will produce in the early season, including good old garden worms, wax worms, mealworms, a variety of salmon eggs, and many of the new scented egg-like products on the market today.

Certainly, there are other artificial lures that have been produced as well as in-line spinners, such as the 2–4-inch minnow imitations made by Rebel and Rapala and numerous other companies. A lure that is often overlooked for trout is a small jig with some type of soft plastic grub attached. We usually think of those lures as bass rigs, but in smaller sizes, they work on trout too.

I’ll be honest, my favorite trout technique not just for the first day — but anytime I’m after trout — is a flyrod. The surface floating dry fly is my all-around favorite, but in the early season, when hatches are more sparse, I’m fine with a nymph, mop-fly, or artificial egg presentation.

The point is there are a variety of lures and techniques that will take trout on the opening day and thereafter but probably what really makes the difference is not so much what you use but how you use it. Discussing the “how-to” will take up a whole lot more space, so I’ll reserve that for a number of future articles as summer approaches.