Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Advice from Welsh Fly Fishers

This morning I was reading through several trout fishing articles and came across one that caught my attention. It was published on a Welsh web site. The author recounts his boyhood stories of watching trout feed on insects and the lessons he learned from it.

Like most kids, this young lad was very curious and conducted a few of his own experiments on the local trout. One of them consisted of throwing matchsticks into the water and watching trout take them into their mouth and spit them back out. This observation proved to the boy that trout will try anything, but necessarily eat it. He surmised the trout probably spit the matchsticks out because of their hard and course texture.

It's a proven fact that trout do have senses. They can smell and taste. Whether it was taste or the hard wood that caused these trout to spit out the matchsticks, nobody knows. But it is an interesting observation and one worth considering if you want to learn to think like a trout.

As a result of this boyhood experience, the author goes on to say that trout will spit out artificial flies that are constructed of hard wire and strong fibers.

I have yet to attempt to tie my own flies - but it is a skill I'm interested in learning. Whether or not there is any truth to this statement, I don't know. I'd love to hear other people's experiences and observations regarding this issue.

But either way, I figured it was one of those good "food for thought" kind of statements, and one folks should consider when tying their own flies. If you'd like to read the full article, click here.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Trout Fishing Lakes with Spinners

Today was one of those great trout fishing days! I had planned to fish in Lynx Lake, but due to a prescribed burn, the lake was closed. So I headed over to Goldwater Lake instead. As it turns out, the lake had just been stocked two hours earlier!

Fishing a freshly stocked lake can be very exciting. Trout raised in hatcheries are used to shallow water. So after being planted in the lake, they tend to hang out close to the shore the first couple of days.

They were jumping all around the lake today. I caught several using a Blue Fox strobe spinner. If you're not familiar with spinner fishing, the setup is really simple. I usually have 6 or 8 lb test on my spinning reel. Then I add a swivel to the line and clip the spinner to the swivel. When fishing with spinners, I don't use any sinkers. But on day like today, you don't need to get far out into the water to catch the trout!

It only took me about an hour to catch my limit (6 trout). Folks all around me had their limits pretty quickly as well. But nobody wanted to leave the lake today. Folks just kept on fishing and releasing the trout back into the lake so they could be caught another day!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hybridization - Why it Can Be a Bad Thing

As mentioned yesterday, hybridization is the interbreeding of trout species. Many fish (especially trout) interbreed with other species. Over time, this can lead to a species' survival being threatened.

Arizona is home to the Apache and Gila trout. With the exception of the Gila trout (which can also be found in New Mexico), these twp species don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Due to hybridization, their survival has been threatened and they’ve been on the Endangered list since 1967.

But thanks to the Arizona Fish and Game Department teaming up with other organizations, these two species not only survive today, but are making a comeback!

These agencies have been sterilizing certain rivers and lakes to kill off unwanted fish and plant Apache and Gila trout into these waters. In doing so, these trout species have an opportunity to survive and repopulate the waters.

In 2006 the Arizona Fish and Game Department sterilized the West Fork of the Little Colorado River to remove Rainbow and Brook trout which were threatening Apache trout. Once it's been confirmed that Rainbow and Brook trout have been successfully removed, the river will be restocked with Apache trout.

The process of sterilization is very safe and interesting. A very small concentration of an EPA approved chemical (Antimycin) is introduced into the river. Antimycin is actually an antibiotic developed for human use. In this case, it interferes with the fish's ability to exchange oxygen within its cells; thereby removing unwanted fish from the stream. At specific doses, it can remove some fish without affecting others.

Antimycin is neutralized by applying potassium permanganate, which oxidizes the Antimycin. After a couple days, fish can be restocked.

One of the biologists involved in the project told me that they hope to take Apache trout off the Engendered list by next January.

If you'd like to read more about the Apache trout recovery project, click here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Hybrid Trout

Most people are familiar with Rainbow, Brown and Brook trout. You may even have heard of Steelhead, Golden, and Lake trout. But have you ever heard of Splake or Brake trout?

These are hybrid trout. When more than one species of trout exists in the same body of water, they sometimes interbreed. The offspring are hybrids.

Some common hybrid trout include:

  1. Brownbow - which is cross between a male Brown trout and and female Rainbow trout

  2. Splake - which is cross between a male Speckled (Brook) trout and a female Lake trout

  3. Brookinaw - which is cross between a female Brook trout and a male Lake trout (Lake trout are also called Mackinaw trout)

  4. Brake- which is cross between a female Brown trout and a male Lake trout

  5. Tiger - which is cross between a Brown and Brook trout

Many of these hybrids are produced in fish hatcheries. Splake trout, for example, have only been successfully produced in hatcheries. They've been around since the 1870's.

Splake trout are primarily stocked in Canada and northern U.S. states. These trout are very similar in appearance to Brook trout. The primary difference is that the tail in Splake trout is more forked than in Brook trout.

Brake trout have been produced in Utah hatcheries since 1993. But due to difficulties in the program and low success rates this hybrid program was terminated.

Brownbow trout are also very prevalent in Utah. It's been rumored that these trout may be blind due to cataracts on their eyes.

While it does happen, hybridization is not always a good thing. You can read more about this in my next post.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Chumming Tips for Trout

Yesterday we discussed the legalities and other points related to chumming. Today, I thought you might like some tips for chumming more effectively. But remember ... chumming is not legal in all states. So check the regs before you do it.

As mentioned yesterday, chumming is the process of spreading out one or more food sources in the water to attract fish. When chumming, you're trying to promote active feeding in a cluster of fish. Some people will tell you chumming is a fine art. I agree there's some skill involved - but it also takes some skill to fish. So if you can fish, you can chum.

First, chum can be any food source that is attractive to the kind of fish you wish to catch. Trout love a lot of a lot of different food sources. Last week I was fishing at my local lake and there were hundreds of grasshoppers floating on the surface. Trout were feeding on them like crazy. In that case, nature did the chumming for me and I just had to sit back and catch trout.

But rarely are things that easy. The majority of the time, the angler has to bring the chum. Sweet corn is a favorite for anglers and trout. You can easily buy it in cans and it's always available. Some anglers even like to bring a few pieces of bread along and soak the bread in corn juice and make little dough balls for an added advantage.

Now that you have your chum, the trick is to deliver it in the water to attract trout. For best results, try and pick an area of the water where you suspect trout might already be hanging out (near tree logs, big rocks, etc.). Then get the corn out in the water about 15-30 feet in front of you. Some people use a slingshot for precision placement of the corn. You want to spread the corn out over an area so as to give the fish plenty of room and improve your chances of landing your baited hook in the middle of the cluster.

Ideally, you want to spread out the chum slowly and often. You're trying to promote active feeding and draw more hungry trout into the area. The last thing you want to do is give them too much food in the beginning so that they fill up and lose interest. This is where the skill comes in. You want to give them enough chum to keep them interested in staying there, as well as create enough excitement for nearby trout so they'll come check out the action.

Corn isn't the only thing you can use. Feel free to experiment and try different things. You can even add some trout attractant to your chum. I've watched trout come to the surface where I was fishing just because some of the attractant spilled onto the surface of the water while I was putting it on my bait. I wasn't even chumming and trout were coming to check out the attractant on the surface of the water.

By the way, some folks like to use the chum on their hook too. The idea is that if trout are feeding on the chum, then they'll be more likely to take your baited hook if the chum is on it too. But many anglers have success using other baits (worms, salmon eggs, etc.) as well when chumming.

So experiment and have fun!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chumming for Trout - Is it Legal?

Ask anglers what they think about chumming and you'll get a lot of different answers. Some think it's cheating. Others think it's immoral. And many think chumming is perfectly acceptable.

Chumming is the act of spreading various food sources in the water in an effort to pull fish to that area. Once you get a cluster of fish in the area and they are actively feeding, you're more likely to catch them with your baited hook (assuming you aren't filling the fish up with chum first).

Is it cheating? The first step in catching fish successfully is finding them. Good anglers learn how to read the water and landscape as one means of finding trout. Others use fish finders. Finding fish in lakes can be very challenging given their nature of having to cruise around to find food. Chumming is one way of helping to pull clusters of trout into an area you are fishing.

If you're fishing with kids, chumming can help give them a better fishing experience. The more trout they catch, the more likely they are to enjoy fishing and want to do it again.

But is it legal? That depends on where you live. In Europe, chumming is not only accepted, it's encouraged. But in the U.S. many states have regulations prohibiting chumming, while other states allow it.

In my state (Arizona), chumming is allowed as long as you don't litter the water with chum. Many other states share this view. Before giving chumming a try, you'll want to check your state's fish and game website to see if it's allowed in your state.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Trout Fishing Threatened by Weed

This week there was a report about weed problem threatenting a trout fishing in the Fall River in Shasta County. The problem is that Eurasian watermilfoil weed is growing in the water, threatening the natural ecosystem.

Unfortunately, this problem is not limited to California - it's a problem in just about every U.S. State.

This weed is not native to the U.S. but was brought here in the late 1800's by the aquarium trade for use in aquariums. It's believed to have entered our waters when folks tired dumped their aquariums into nearby lakes and rivers. From there, the weed spread by hitching rides on boat trailers and were deposited into other lakes and rivers.

Once in water, this weed grows and spreads rapidly and presents all sorts of problems for anglers, boaters, swimmers, etc. In fact, this weed disrupts the whole natural ecosystem of the water. It crowds out other natural aquatic plants. It can slow water flow and hinder oxgenation of the water by preventing the wind from mixing oxygenated surface water with deeper water. These things hinder trout survivability.

You can help! It's a known fact that this weed is mostly spread through boat trailers. The weed becomes tangled in propellers, transducers, fishing nets, trim tabs, bow lines, and on trailers.

Before leaving the lake or river:

  • INSPECT and REMOVE all aquatic plants and animals
  • DRAIN water from motors, live wells and bait containers
  • DISPOSE of unwanted live bait on land
  • RINSE your boat and equipment with hot (104°F) high pressure tap water or
  • DRY your boat and equipment for at least 5 days

Also, you happen to seed this weed growing in your local lake or river, contact your local Fish and Game Department to make sure they're aware of it. Following these simple steps, you can help prevent the spread of this weed and help preserve the waters for trout fishing for yourself and others.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Discover New Fishing Hot Spots

Tired of the fishing the same old lake or river? Even though there are other fishing spots within driving distance - many of us get in the rut of fishing in the same spot out of convenience. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you really enjoy trout fishing, it's a lot of fun to try your luck at different fishing holes.

I recently found a great site that can help - especially if you're new to a state and don't know all of its fishing spots yet. The site offers trail maps for just about every outdoor activity - including fishing. I personally find the site very helpful - even though it doesn't list ALL of the fishing spots in my state. It still gives me some good information and maps.

I really find this site helpful when I travel to other states. I live close to California, Colorado and Nevada borders. Not knowing those states as well as my own, I can print off maps for fishing spots in those states ahead of time. This helps me a lot!

To access all of the maps, you have to subscribe to the site ($49/year) - but you can try it for free for 14 days.

Browse over 30,000 trails and unlimited topo maps for free. Sign up today!

Monday, October 23, 2006

New Arizona Record for Rainbow Trout

Everybody dreams about breaking their current state's trout fishing record. Well, this year two people actually did it in Arizona - and one of them was only 23 days ago!

Most states have two types of freshwater records - one for the biggest trout caught and one for 'catch and release'.

The new Arizona 'catch and release' record was set in March by Jeff Senn when he reeled in a 22 inch Rainbow trout out of Silver Creek (near Show Low).

Then only 23 days ago, Harold Wright reeled in a Rainbow Trout weighing 15 lbs. 9.12 oz. and measuring 32.5 inches! He caught it in Willow Springs Lake (near Payson). The previous record weighed in at 12 lbs. 5.76 oz. (same length).

This goes to prove .... Records are made to be broken! The next one could be YOURS!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Trout Feeding Habits

Yesterday we talked about what trout like to eat. Today, let's talk a bit about their feeding habits. As mentioned yesterday, trout can be picky eaters.
But there are some known facts you might want to keep in the back of your mind when fishing for trout.

First, trout tend to be active feeders early in the morning (from about dawn til mid morning) and early evening (dusk til dark). Depending on weather, season, and body of water (lake, river, or stream), trout will often appear to disappear during mid-day. They don't really disappear, but from a fishing perspective, they appear to stop biting.

Summer months (when water temps are higher), fishing for trout in lakes is especially challenging. Trout head for deeper water where it's cooler. You can still catch them, but you need to figure out where (location and depth) they're feeding.

But in addition to knowing the best feeding times, it helps to know what trout like to feed on. You already know from yesterday that trout like to eat a variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects. Trout love worms too! But have you ever been fishing with one bait (one you know they like) and have trout ignore it and take somebody else's bait? This happens a lot.

Here's a tip - trout will often feed on the "new hatch" over other insects. In other words, as seasons change new insects hatch (or become available food). Trout will often prefer the newer insect over those they've been eating for a while. So if you like to fly fish or use live bait, pay attention to the insects flying around the water.

If you're fishing with PowerBait, change colors until you figure out which one trout prefer. Trout can see color - and how well they see depends on several factors (clouds, sunshine, muddy water, etc.). At my local lake, I've watched trout hit on one color of PowerBait and ignore the rest more times than I can count. Color does matter! But just as trout will start eating one insect over another, they will often switch their color preference on PowerBait.

Here's another tip regarding trout feeding habits. They generally don't like to work hard for their food. So when given the opportunity, they will often strike at an insect they deem to be in distress. A lot of anglers use this knowledge to their advantage in their bait presentation.

You'll often hear anglers refer to the trout's "feeding lane". This term is used in river fishing a lot. Trout love to hang out in water currents where food supplies are high. Currents near over-hanging trees are a prime source of food. Insects often fall (or are blown) into the water. Trout will hold their position in the water, and let the current bring food to them. This is what's known as the feeding lane.

These guidelines should help you catch more trout. Half the battle is figuring out where the trout are. In rivers and streams, trout will often be found near food sources (like currents, overhanging trees, banks, logs, etc.). But in lakes (where currents are usually non-existent), trout will often have to cruise around to find food.

Once you figure out where trout hanging out, the trick to keep trying different things until you figure out what trout are feeding on at that moment. If you're not getting any bites after 15 or 20 minutes of fishing, change bait - try something different.

For more tips about trout and trout fishing, click here.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What Do Trout Eat?

Knowing what trout eat means you can catch them all day, right? Wrong! Trout eat a lot of different things - and unfortunately for us, they can be picky eaters. They may start out liking one kind of food in the morning, and then switch to something later in the day. Not only do you have to know what trout like to eat, but you have to understand their feeding habits too. But this is part of the fun and challenge!

When it comes to natural food sources, trout love to feed on a variety of insects including: grasshoppers, crickets, cicadas, beetles, worms (all types), bees, wasps, ants, mayflies, damselflies, stoneflies and more.

Fly fishers use artificial flies to mimics many of the live insects mentioned above. These insects have different stages of growth, and artificial flies are designed to mimick each stage. You'll often hear the term, "match the hatch" in fly fishing. This refers to figuring out what insects trout are currently feeding on and then using the equivalent artificial fly to catch trout.

Mealworms are a trout favorite - and yet most anglers don't use them (they tend to stick to nightcrawlers instead). But the really cool thing is that mealworms are larval stage of the Darkling Beetle. These little worms can be placed on your treble hook and bottom fished - and trout love them! So even if you're not fly fishing, it helps to have a knowledge of the different insects and their growth stages.

Trout (especially Rainbows) also like to eat a variety of other things including: cheese, marshmallows, corn, salmon eggs, and more! Salmon eggs have been popular for years with trout anglers. But cheese, marshmallows and corn? Who the first person was to try these first I don't know - but I imagine it either had to be a kid (they'll try anything) or somebody who ran out of bait on a great day and didn't want to quit fishing! But I have to say I was quite amazed the first time I caught a trout using a mini-marshmallow!

PowerBait is a very effective bait when fishing for Rainbow trout. PowerBait is the registered trademark manufactured by Berkley. They make a variety of different colors and most anglers have several. My personal favorite is the rainbow speckled one. I've caught more trout on that color alone than any other color.

When it comes to catching trout, having a good idea of what they improves your chances of catching them. However, the really great anglers aren't afraid to try something new.

For more tips about trout and how to catch them, click here.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Teach the Kids to Catch Trout!

With the cooler temperatures of Fall, now is the time to get the kids out fishing. Teaching kids to fish can be difficult – especially in summer months when fishing is more challenging. But unfortunately, most people wait until the summer months to get their kids out fishing.

I know - the summer months are convenient! Kids are out of school, the weather is great, and there’s more daylight hours. But as much as we enjoy fishing in the summer, it’s not the best time for trout fishing. And this can be a problem when you’re teaching kids to fish.

Kids get bored easily and lose interest in fishing when they’re not feeling the excitement of a fish tugging on the end of the line. It’s frustrating for kids – and it can be frustrating for you (especially if you’re trying to fish too). Naturally, you want your kids to enjoy fishing as much as you do – and you really want them to experience that joy and excitement of catching their first trout!

Trout are more active feeders in cooler Fall temperatures. If you live in a climate where the Fall temps are between 50 – 68 degrees during the day, you will most likely find trout feeding all day. I live in northern Arizona and I can catch trout every day right now at my local lake! I may have to wear a jacket all day, but the fishing is great!

Despite the obstacles with school and work, this is the best time to get the kids out fishing. I often pick my nephew up after school and take him out fishing for a couple of hours (of course, I always make sure he has his homework too, and we work on it together). But we have a great time. And best of all, he is catching trout! And the more trout he catches, the more excited he is about fishing.

There’s no better time to teach kids to fish than when trout are actively feeding. All you need is pole, hook and worm (or power bait). You can fish with or without a bobber (although kids really like watching the bobber).
If lucky like we are to live within a few minutes of some great fishing lake, take advantage of the opportunities to get the kids out fishing. If you have to travel a bit to get to lake, then go on the weekends. But go – and take the kids!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Top 10 Trout Fishing Tips

  1. Fish in water temperatures between 50-68 degrees Fahrenheit (this is when they’re most comfortable and actively feeding)

  2. Use light tackle (4-8 lb test and hook size 12-16)

  3. Use 12-18 inch leaders

  4. Use worms, spinners, artificial flies, for bait (floating worms are great too)

  5. Use PowerBait (such as Berkley Trout Powerbait Twist) when fishing for Rainbow Trout

  6. When fishing in rivers and streams, cast your line upstream and let it drift down in the feeding lane. Ideally, you’re standing behind the fish and casting your line in front of him and letting it drift back to the fish.

  7. Look for trout lies (places they may be hanging out in) - especially in rivers and streams.

  8. In lakes, watch for trout rising to the surface. If you see repeated jumpers in the area, cast your line there.

  9. Fish in early morning and early evening (trout actively feed during these two periods).

  10. Watch your hands when handling bait. The less you touch your bait when putting it on the hook, the better. Also be careful to wash off any sun block, lotion or other unnatural odors before handling bait. If the odor is unnatural to trout, they'll avoid your bait (who says they’re just dumb fish?!).

There are a lot more trout fishing tips. But these are some of the top ones that will help improve your chances of catching more trout. As mentioned yesterday, temperature has a lot to do with catching trout. Tips #1 and #9 also reflect this.

In addition to morning and evening temps, seasonal temps play a role too. This is why fishing in Fall and Spring are usually the best seasons for trout fishing.

For more great tips for trout fishing, check out my eBook, "Trout Fishing Tips".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Now is the Time to Catch Trout!

Now that it's finally cooling down a bit, trout are biting like crazy. Temperatures play a big role in trout feeding activity.

Trout are active feeders when water temperatures are between 50 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Once water temps get above 70 degrees, trout become more concerned about survival than feeding. Since outdoor temps affect water temps, cooler weather not only help trout, but fishers too.

One of the best times to catch trout is during the Fall season when it's cooler. Once winter hits, the colder temps can have the same affect on trout as warmer temps. This can be a bigger problem for folks living in higher elevations where winter often brings freezing temperatures and snow.

Just as trout don't like water temps above 70 degrees, they also don't like water temps below 50 degrees. Trout become very lethargic in water that is outside their ideal temp range (50 - 68 degrees F).

So if you can brave the cooler weather, now is the time to be out fishing for trout!

For more information about trout metabolism and how it relates to your ability to catch them, check out my eBook, "Trout Fishing Tips".

Trout Fishing Tips Coming Soon!

Welcome! Soon this blog will be providing you with loads of trout fishing tips. It's my aim to provide you with valuable tips and information to help you get the most out of your trout fishing experiences. If you've already purchased my eBook (and let me say 'thanks'), this site will provide you with more up to date information.

Likewise, I'd love to hear from you. If you have comments, questions, or stories to share, let me know. My goal here is to answer some of those questions while sharing information and tips related to trout fishing!