It is true that fishing for trout is a wee bit different than fishing for panfish, bass, or catfish; however, those differences don’t necessarily make it more difficult to successfully fill your stinger and head to the homestead for a tasty rainbow trout fillet. Much of the difference has to do with the basics of understanding where to cast, which tackle to use, and most importantly, the state laws involved. Once you keep these simple aspects of trout fishing in mind, then it’s all in the wrist!
Image Source: Sue Water from Flickr
#1: Make Your State Happy.
First, it is absolutely crucial to obtain the proper licensing before you venture out to your fishing spots. Laws will vary from state to state, but you will most likely need a fishing license, trout stamp, and to know when trout season begins and ends. Also, you should know the quota on how many trout you can harvest. Be sure to check your local and state laws on their specific requirements for trout. Here is a resource for Illinois residents: Fishing in Illinois.
You can find this information in fishing handbooks that are distributed by each state’s respective fish and game commission, and you should be able to pick one up at any place that sells fishing licenses. In addition, you’ll also receive the handbook for free upon purchasing a license in most cases. Another excellent place to check is your state’s fish and game commission website.
The main reason why states are fairly specific on their trout fishing policies, and noticeably strict on enforcement, is because states tend to spend a fair amount of funding in order to keep trout stocked and ecosystems balanced. Following the laws ensures that there will always be trout to fish for everybody year after year… it really is best for all we trout fishin’ lovers out there.
#2: Wear the Right Trout Fishing Attire.
Much of what you wear will depend on the weather in your local area, if you’ll be wading into the water, and how you want to configure and carry your gear while you’re fishing.
If you’re fishing in warmer and sunnier climates, you’re going to want to wear light, breathable clothing. In addition, avoid wearing darker colors, as this will absorb heat and make your trout fishing experience rather uncomfortable. Also, many fishing shirts come with an SPF rating, to keep your skin nice and protected while the sun beats down. One more thing, don’t forget to have a good brimmed fishing hat… not only will this keep the sun off your noggin, but it’s also a fantastic look that says, “Hey, I’m trout fishing, and I’m lovin’ every minute!”
In colder climates, you will want to come with warmer clothing, making sure to layer just incase the temperature starts to rise. Though, just like in warmer weather, you should still bring the hat.
Some of the best trout fishing is right in the middle of the stream; so don’t forget to wear good, waterproof boots for shallower streams –and especially waders if the stream gets a bit deeper. In hot weather, a little water on the thighs might feel quite refreshing, but this is largely dependent upon your preference.
One aspect that applies to both hot and cold-weather trout fishing is the fact that you need sturdy footwear. Whether you’re wearing boots, waders, or sandals, you need to be able to maintain your footing on sometimes-slippery rocks. If you trip and wipe out in the water, those trout will be long gone before you get a chance to cast your line.
Last, depending on your preference, you should wear either a fishing vest or a belt pack that will allow you to access your tackle. Keeping it in a tackle box on shore will be a pain, especially since you might need to change your configuration… which means that you have even more opportunities to scare away the trout.
#3: Fishing For Trout? Use Trout Tackle.
Getting your hands on the right tackle is probably the most complex aspect of trout fishing, but it is important to keep a few simple factors in mind.
First, you don’t want to use a rod that is too heavy. The lighter variations will serve you better for trout fishing, especially because much depends on your ability to feel a bite. Basically, it’s best to stick with 4,5, or 6-weight rods when fishing trout. Also, don’t use monofilament with more than a 6-pound test with hooks, sized from #10 to #14.
It is usually recommended that you fly fish when hoping to snag a trout; however, spin-cast configurations will work in a pinch, as well. It is important to note that trout usually go for life-like lures and bait, meaning that whatever you use, you should try and copy what the trout have been hitting already. They say, while it’s raining (and roughly 24-hours after), worms will be your best bet. Also, if you’re fishing in the wind, then you should use bug baits, like grasshoppers and flies. If the trout think it’s food, then they’ll be buying what you’re selling… unlike bass, which will often attack anything that looks shiny and smells like sweet home-cookin’.
Also, you should never head out to your spot without having a way to take off a hook. Be sure to take along a pair of forceps and a little folding knife for changing out baits or lures, and easier removal of a hook after snagging a beauty. Cold Steel is a great brand to choose, but if you are low on budget, mtech and tac-force knives are functional. Additionally, if you are into extreme adventure, knives can easily be deployed during life threatening and survival situations. It is always smart to be prepared for any emergency.
Last, be sure to acquire a trout stringer for the ones you intend on keeping. State laws require the angler to have a stringer, so that the number of trout can be easily identified.
#4: Basic Trout Fishin’ Tactics
Your basic rule of thumb here is to make your fishing methods to mimic a real trout-meal as much as possible. Here are a few quick tactics that are easy to remember:
First, before you take your tackle along, go ahead and scout for the best spots. Look for pools where trout often congregate, but take care not to disturb them.
Second, move as quietly, and as subtly as possible. Trout are skittish creatures, which will simply swim away if they feel like something isn’t quite right. This is why sturdy footwear is essential, because an accidental dive into the stream will not only soak you from head to toe, but it will also certainly scare away the trout. Also, don’t allow your shadow to appear on the water, as this is a telltale sign of a nearby predator that fish instinctually pay attention to.
Third, cast your line slightly upstream. You want the bait to drift towards you, as this will make it look more lifelike than something that’s swimming against the current.
Fourth, as you fish, move upstream, rather than downstream.
Last, if you feel as if an interested fish has decided to give your bait some love, jerk your pole back about 1-2ft to set the hook.
Once you’ve snagged yourself a trout, then all that’s left is for you to decide whether or not to keep it or let her go.* If you’re keeping it, then get it on your stringer.
*Note: Keep in mind that if the trout is bleeding, then you should just keep it, because it’s not going to survive.
As an outdoor enthusiast, Usman (the contributor) believes in being prepared for the worst case scenario. You should have all the tools needed to survive any disaster, and one must not solely depend on other people to provide care. He works at Online Knife Show as a community/social media manager.