From the 17 June 2005 New
York Outdoor News
New York State is absolutely swamped with inland trout streams. Thousands of these pristine waters can be found in the Allegheny foothills, Catskills, and the Adirondacks. Most receive an annual stocking of hatchery trout. No doubt you are familiar with these waif-like youngsters: seven to nine inch skinny trout that are at times so easy to catch you begin to wonder if you have a future as a professorial angler.
Toward the end of April, though, these dreams of fame and fortune have been shattered and replaced with frustration. Thanks to a month of great fishing pressure the number of fish has dwindled down to nothing. You begin to wonder why you waited all winter for this.
In reality, that stream that you dabble in still has much more to offer. Almost every one of these streams hold a few hefty trout. With a little work you can tangle with trout in excess of twelve inches, brutes that are feisty on ultralight tackle and tasty in the pan.
At times bigger trout are quite easy to catch - so easy you can be quite successful by using tactics commonly directed at largemouth bass. Here are the top four bassin’ tactics for hawg trout:
In the fishing shows so common to cable television we always see our hero (Roland Martin, Bill Dance, et al) speeding away in his souped-up bass boat. His plan of attack is to move a good distance away from everyone else to waters less fished.
That same mentality can be applied to trout fishing. Your typical trout angler parks his vehicle next to a bridge or DEC access lot and walks 5 minutes upstream or downstream. One could guess that over 90% of the trout anglers fish within 1/8 of a mile of these access points. The key to catching bruiser stream trout is to become the minority 10%. As the old saying goes, 10% of the anglers catch 90% of the fish.
Walk fifteen minutes from your car. Better yet, walk a half hour away and fish your way back. You’ll be amazed by the amount of unfished waters out of shotgun range of the access points. Deep pools…log jams…riffles. All of these will be yours and only yours.
And what better home could there be for a nice trout? Fish in these areas have very few anglers to bug them. And, most importantly, trout in these stretches have plenty of mass-building food because the constant wading and barrage of split-shot sinkers in the most fished areas tends to drive minnows to these more pristine locales.
BIG BAITS EQUAL BIG FISH
Look at the lures that readily catch big bass: the jig and pig, the spinnerbait, and the Zara Spook. These lures are meaty, an absolute mouthful for a four pound bass. Big baits catch big fish. Bass don’t reach great size by eating inch-long minnows.
This principle also applies to stream trout nearing a pound in weight. They don’t reach that size by eating microscopic insect hatches, so put away that fly rod. While you’re at it, put away the cans of corns and little earthworms. If you want to catch the biggest trout in any stream you must use salted minnows and nightcrawlers.
What’s more efficient for the fattest of trout…fighting current to eat a few minute bugs, or lurking in cover to ambush a two-inch minnow? Big trout need a lot of big servings to sustain themselves; it’s not rocket science. Pitch salted minnows (or live minnows) into and you’ll come up with some decent trout.
There is only one bait out there that can rival a minnow and that’s a nightcrawler. When I say "nightcrawler" I mean those long, fat, meaty slobs that you find on your lawn on a wet spring night. The bigger the nightcrawler, the better. Even a nine inch trout can devour a whole ‘crawler. It is the ultimate bait: large profile, lots of movement, stink, and great taste (to the trout).
FISH THE TIMBER
Bass fisherman lunker bass are structure-oriented fish. Big hogs lurk in or near fallen trees, tree roots, and logs. It gives them a hiding spot from which they can ambush unsuspecting preyfish. Big trout use this same hunting technique.
Most streams see a substantial flow of water in the spring thanks to melting snows and spring rains. These mini-floods have enough power to carry sticks and logs downstream until they bump into an obstruction. This creates a build-up of vagrant timber and, in turn, underwater brush piles. This becomes a great hiding spot for trout.
Fishing these brush piles requires the "three plenties": plenty of tackle, plenty of nightcrawlers, and plenty of patience. You’re going to lose a lot of tackle and bait because hang-ups are guaranteed. Thankfully, hooks, sinkers, and crawlers are dirt-cheap. Be patient, because when you lose tackle you will lose your temper. Don’t let it get to you. Any veteran angler will tell you that the biggest trout in any stream will be found in brush piles.
ONE WORD: PLASTICS
Look into the section of your tackle box devoted solely to bass. You probably have twenty pounds of soft plastics in there, everything from plastic worms to soft stickbaits. Soft plastics are deadly on bass…and trout, too.
Come June, stream waters have warmed considerably and trout metabolism is heightened. The trout have lost their finnickiness and will willingly take soft plastics. There are three soft plastics that are great for trout…small crayfish (to 2.5"), white twister tails, and the small tube jigs used on panfish. Simply find a deep hole and jig to your heart’s content. This routine will be effective until the end of the season, quite often out-producing spinners and live bait. In fact, this technique is great for the purists who prefer not to use live bait.
Simple bass tactics applied to stream trout. Simply deadly. Use these four ideals in the upcoming trout season and you’ll see the size and numbers of your catches increase dramatically.
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