Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kids Fall Fishing Derby this Saturday

This Saturday (December 2, 2006) is the Kids Fall Fishing Derby at East El Dorado Park in Long Beach, California. The Derby will begin bright and early at 7:30 a.m. and end at 11:30 a.m. There will be plenty of trout, catfish, and carp for the taking.

This year, El Dorado Park will also feature the Pathways Tour Exhibit and outdoor faire displays where booths. Kids can learn more about camping gear, camp food, fishing tackle, backpacking, outdoor photography, and electronics. There will even be some fishing seminars. The REI stores are responsible for all displays, so there should be some good ones.

Bigger Trout Being Stocked in San Diego Lakes

It's been a common theme this fall, but cooler weather makes for better trout fishing. Many states are preparing for the winter trout fishing season by stocking larger trout in their lakes.

Lakes Cuyamaca, Santee, Dixon, Jennings and Poway are stocking regularly now and some are even stocking fish in the 4 - 8 lb range. Limits on bait and lures are common at most lakes. So be sure to check the regs before fishing.

These lakes offer a great opportunity for youngsters who are new to trout fishing. Trout will be more active in these cooler conditions and are easier to catch.

Lake Cuyamaca even offers free fishing lessons every Saturday at 10:00 a.m.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Winter Trout Fishing Begins in Texas

Beginning November 30th and continuing through March, Texas residents can start enjoying the winter trout fishing season. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will begin stocking Rainbow trout across 100 sites in the state.

Catching trout in cooler weather is much easier than in warmer weather. So this is the perfect opportunity for beginner trout fishers to get out there and catch some trout. It's also a great opportunity for the kids to catch some!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Make Your Own Fishing Sinkers

You may have downloaded our free "Make Your Own Tackle" guide on our web site. This guide shows you how to make your own fishing sinkers.

I've been making my own saltwater fishing sinkers for years.
All you need are some molds, lead (or other substance), and a melting pot. You can even make your own molds using wood - although they're trickier to work than the manufactured ones.

A couple of weeks ago, I helped my nephew make some heavy weight sinkers for saltwater fishing. He had a blast and so I decided it was time to look around for some freshwater sinker molds (for a Christmas gift) and discovered that the Bass Pro shop has a variety of freshwater and saltwater Sinker, Jig & Shot Molds.

You can make your own egg sinkers, shots, jigs, and much more.

When you buy sinker molds, you'll usually end up buying a couple of different ones. This way you can make sinker of different sizes and weights.

Making your own sinkers are fun for adults as well as kids. And if you lose as much tackle as some of us do - it can even save you some money in the long run. They make great gifts for the avid fisher in your life too!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Florida Trout Fishing Records

If you ever searched Florida's Fish and Wildlife web site for the state's trout fishing records, you know how frustrating it is. That's because Florida lets the International Game & Fish Association (or IGFA) keep their state records.

I recently emailed Florida's Fish and Wildlife department to ask what the current records were and here is what they told me. As of 27 November 2006, the current Trout Fishing Records for Florida are:

  • Spotted Seatrout - 17 lbs 7 oz., caught on 11 May 1995
  • Spotted Seatrout (Fly Rod) - 12 lbs 7 oz. caught on 5 March 1984
Both of the records listed above were caught in saltwater.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Annual Winter Trout Stocking Begins Nov. 30

Beginning Nov. 30 and continuing through March, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will stock upwards of 264,000 hatchery-reared rainbow trout at about 100 sites across the state. Many of the fish stockings will be conducted at small community fishing lakes, state park lakes and popular river tailraces offering easy angling access.

TPWD has been stocking rainbow trout each winter since the 1970s, providing Texans a simple and economical opportunity to go fishing.

Catching these hungry fish can be easy, making the experience ideal for both novice anglers and kids. The fish will bite almost immediately after stocking and typically will take a variety of baits, from whole kernel canned corn or commercial soft bait to artificial flies and even small spinner baits.

A list of stocking sites with detailed driving directions is available on the TPWD Web site. The posted stocking dates are the days the trout are available to the general public. Many sites offer special events for youth prior to allowing the public to fish and those are usually the day before. Folks should check with local parks and recreation departments or water authorities for additional information.

While most sites get an annual dose of between 1,000-2,000 trout, popular fishing holes like the Guadalupe River below the Canyon Reservoir Dam, which includes the tailrace, receive multiple stockings from December through March.

As the only fishable place in Texas where rainbow trout can survive during the summer months, the Guadalupe River will get about 17,000 fish, which includes about 5,000 trout donated to TPWD by the Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District.

“The water is low and clear right now, so the wade fishing opportunities should be good as long as we don’t get torrential rains,” said Stephan Magnelia, TPWD fisheries biologist in San Marcos. “If we got any over-summer trout survival, it was in the area close to Canyon Dam, so we’re starting with a clean slate in the lower end. The fish ought to be congregated and once you find them you should be able to catch them fairly easily.”

There are several public access points along the Guadalupe River that have been leased by TPWD specifically for trout fishing. Maps and directions to these sites are available on the TPWD Web site.

Trout anglers (age 17 and up) will need a $5 fishing stamp in addition to the regular fishing license to fish these areas.

For more information about the stockings, visit:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Arkansas Trout Fishing Tips

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission recently added a new page to their web site which is devoted entirely to trout fishing.

Arkansas is known for it's outstanding trout fishing (especially on the White River) and they even hold the World Trout Record for Brown Trout (40 lbs - 4 oz. which was set in 1992)
. Arkansas waters are known for large trout (with 5 to 10 pounders being common in some areas).

On the trout fishing page, you'll find links to weekly fishing reports, stocking schedules, and more.

The state is even implementing five trophy trout areas covering 6 miles of Arkansas tailwaters.

There's a lot of interesting information on the this web page. If you enjoy trout fishing, you'll like this web page (even if you don't live in Arkansas).

Friday, November 24, 2006

How to Calculate the Weight of Your Trout

A lot of trout fishers are 'catch and release' anglers. They love the sport of trout fishing, but don't want to kill the fish. But when you catch that prize trout, you certainly want to record the length and weight and share it with photos.

But a lot of fish scales require hanging the fish by the gills - which is counter-productive to 'catch and release'. One way around this, is to guesstimate the weight using a formula.

The accepted formula for calculating the weight of a fish is this:

(length) * (girth in front of dorsal fin) * (girth behind dorsal fin) / 800 = weight of fish in pounds

Keep in mind this only an ESTIMATE and should not be considered 100% accurate.

The actual weight of the fish can only be measured by a scale. And if you're looking to get that world or state record in the books, then you will have to officially weigh your fish.

But this formula will give you an idea of whether or not a fish may qualify for the record book - which can help you make the decision on whether or not to release it.

Don't like math? Check out our fish weight calculator.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pyramid Lake Fishing Derby This Weekend

This weekend the Pyramid Lake Store will host its annual Lahontan Cutthroat trout fishing derby. The derby will begin on Friday and run through Sunday.

The cost is $25 and you can register until 12 p.m. on Sunday at the Lake Pyramid Store. You'll receive the official rules when you register.

Final derby weigh-ins will be held Sunday at 5 p.m.

There will be cash prizes for the heaviest fish (first place will get 50% of the entry fees; 2nd place will get 30% and 3rd place will receive 20%).

For more information call George or Carla Molino at the (775) 476-0555.
Pyramid Lake Store is located at 29555 Pyramid Hwy. in Suttcliffe, Nevada.

To learn more about Pyramid Lake, click here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Best Speckled Trout Season in a Decade!

Folks in Virgina are claiming this this to be one of the best Speckled trout fishing seasons in a decade.

At present count there have been 177 Speckled trout weighing more than 5 pounds registered for an award in the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament.

There have been 39 requests for 'catch and release' awards for trout longer than 24 inches.

There also been an extraordinary number of Speckled trout weighing at least 2 pounds being caught!

There is still a month and half to go in the season. If you haven't done so yet, now is the time to get out join the action! From all reports, you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Today is the Day to Welcome Back the Trout!

If you're anything like me, your days are hectic and you sometimes need a reminder of those events you were looking forward to attending. So I wanted to drop a brief reminder that today is the day for Tempe's Town Lake "Welcome Back the Trout".

I called the lake marina yesterday in an effort to get as many details as possible and was able to narrow down the fish stocking to take place sometime between 3 and 3:30 pm. If you have kids, you won't want to miss this as the fish will be brought in on a see-through fishmobile!

The free fishing clinic will take place between 3 - 5 pm and you won't need a fishing license for the day.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Low-Oxygen Levels Threaten Fish

Although Puget Sound is not known for trout fishing, there is an on-going ecological problem that you may find interesting. Rapid growth and development along areas of the Puget Sound have resulted in water pollution which is now threatening native fish.

This problem was first reported in 2002 and has only gotten worse. In September 2006, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife took their cameras underwater in Hood Canal to help expose the problem.

While the Puget Sound problem is not affecting trout, it does show what can happen if trout habitats are not watched carefully. There are three trout species (Apache, Gila and Bull) that are currently listed as "threatened" on the Federal Endangered list due to similar problems.

Sediment running into nearby streams, rivers and lakes, can reduce oxygen levels in the water (a problem currently threatening Bull trout).

In my eBook, "Trout Fishing Tips", I explain in detail how oxygen levels affect trout metabolism and their ability to survive - and how this in turn affects trout fishing. But in short, trout suffocate without oxygen (very much like the Puget Sound fish).

Many different factors can affect oxygen levels in the water, including:
  1. Water temperature
  2. Sediment and other pollutants
  3. Aquatic Plants
  4. Seasonal changes

For those of us living in warmer climates, trout fishing in the summertime can be challenging. Warmer water temperatures remove oxygen from the water. This poses a problem for trout. Survivability becomes more important than feeding, and trout begin searching for more oxygenated water.

The WDFW video offers a unique glimpse into this underwater problem. While it is difficult to watch, it shows you exactly what happens when oxygen levels are low in the water. For more information, visit the Puget Sound Action Team web.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Vallecito Reservoir Stocked with Large Rainbow Trout

How would you like to catch some large Rainbow trout? On November 21, 2006 the Colorado Division of Wildlife will begin stocking the Vallecito Reservoir with 13-inch Rainbow trout (as opposed to the usual 10-inch size). They plan to plant about 45,000 of these trout in the reservoir.

This stocking is part of an effort to restore previous populations of Rainbow trout in the reservoir. Although fire and drought have contributed to the decline in Rainbow trout, Pike are believed to be one of the biggest causes. It's generally believed that Pike have been feeding on the Rainbow trout (especially the 10-inchers).

The Division of Wildlife hope that by stocking the reservoir late this year, it will give the Rainbow trout time to grow. Like a lot of freshwater fish, Pike stop feeding as actively when water temperatures cool. This will help give the trout time to grow during the winter. It's also hoped that the larger size trout will deter Pike from feeding on them.

Come spring, those 13-inch trout should be a few inches bigger! Anglers will have the chance to catch some really nice Rainbow trout!

Read the full story on the Colorado Division of Wildlife site.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Fly Fishing Clinic at Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center

If you've been looking for an opportunity to get some fly fishing lessons, here's your chance! The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, Texas will be hosting a fly fishing clinic on December 9, 2006 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cost is $50 and the class is open to those 18 years and older.

The $50 fee includes entrance to the TFFC and the fly fishing clinic, lunch, and a season pass to TFFC so students can return for more fishing as often as they like.

Instruction will focus on equipment selection, knot tying, casting, and fly fishing for large mouth bass and sunfish. Even though fly fishing for trout is not covered, many of the lessons learned will apply to trout fishing too. And if you're like most anglers, you probably enjoy catching other species of fish as well as trout.

Reservations are required and the class is limited to 15 people. So book now if you're interested! For more information, or to register, call Barry St. Clair at (903) 670-2222.

To see more events offered at the TFFC, click here.

Check Your Fishing Line Periodically

When I first started fishing, I never changed my fishing line until it started to mysteriously break - and of course, I'm quite certain that I had a very large fish on the other end at the time!

Fishing lines get stretched, stained and brittle over time. In short, they wear out. Different water conditions can play a factor too. Fishing in saltwater can really corrode your fishing gear if not properly cared for.

When I was growing up in California, we had this ritual of spreading our rods and reels out on the front lawn to hose them off after each fishing trip. This helped lessen the chances of corrosion from salt.

But since moving to Arizona and fishing primarily in freshwater lakes, rivers and streams, I rarely hose down my fishing gear.

A good rule of thumb is to change your fishing line once a season (or once a year). This will ensure that your fishing line is strong enough to handle a good size fish without breaking. You'll also lose less tackle on normal snags.

But while this is a good practice to follow, there may be other times you'll want to change your line too. For example, fishing in different lakes sometimes requires different tackle.

You can get away with using heavier lines (like 8-lb test) in murky water because the line is less visible. But in clear water, you'll need to use lighter line (2-6 lb test).

A lot of trout anglers use 6-lb test because it can usually handle most freshwater fishing situations. This way, they only have to change the line once a season.

But the really good anglers will carry multiple reels or spools filled with different weights of line. This way they can easily swap out the line for different fishing situations.

When you purchase the better reels, they will often come with an extra spool that you can fill with line. You can also just buy an extra reel or two for your rod.

The more you fish, the more you'll discover the benefits of using fresh and different weights of line. Don't underestimate this simple and often overlooked tackle tip.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Excellent Trout Fishing in Castro Valley

If you live near Chabot Lake or Half Moon Bay (California), anglers are reporting excellent trout fishing. Folks are reeling in 4-6 pounders out of Chabot Lake, and some are even getting their limits.

Trolling near Half Moon Bay with broken Rapela lures has also been very productive.

And folks using PowerBait on an 18-inch leader have been doing great near Coots Landing.

If you're new to trout fishing, Fall is one of the best times to be out trout fishing. No matter where you live, trout fishing will mostly likely be pretty good right now.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

"Welcome Back the Trout" Next Tuesday in Tempe, Arizona

On November 21, the Arizona Fish and Game will host the annual "Welcome Back the Trout" event in Tempe's Town Lake. The fun event begins at 3:00 p.m. at the Town Lake marina. Folks can enjoy a day of free fishing, music, and fun! No fishing licenses will be required for the day (but will for future fishing).

The Arizona Fish and Game department will plant 3,500 Rainbow Trout into the lake that day. They'll use a see-through fishmobile so folks can see the fish before they're released into the lake. Hundreds of kids line up to help!

This also a great opportunity to get free trout fishing lessons. The Arizona Fish and Game department will host a free fishing clinic from 3 - 5 p.m. Rods, reels, bait, and fishing advice will be offered.

This a great day for kids and adults alike! If you've never caught trout before or wasn't sure how to get started trout fishing, this is the perfect opportunity for you and the whole family!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Trout Fishing Tips For Each State

Every state has their own "Fish and Game" website, although sometimes they are known by a different name. On them, you'll find rules and regulations as well as weekly fishing reports. Some of these web sites even offer trout fishing tips for lakes and rivers in their area.

These sites are a great resources because while the basics remain the same, each state and body of water tends to have its own nuances.

I have three different trout fishing lakes in my local area and the fishing is different in all of them. One lake is deep and semi-clear, another is very muddy, and another has very clear water and has great fishing in the shallow end (at least in Fall). I have to use different techniques and rigs to successfully catch trout in each of the lakes.

Also, trout fishing varies with each season (Fall, Winter, Spring, & Summer). Understanding, these differences and how they apply to your state, will help increase your success rate!

Be sure to check your state's site often. Read the fishing reports to find out where and how folks have been catching trout. See if they offer special fishing tips. Minnesota has an excellent one! In fact, the Minnesota trout fishing tips page is one of the best I've seen! Not only does it offer seasonal tips, it also offers trout species tips. Even if you don't live in Minnesota, it's worth a look. You may find that some of the trout fishing tips will work in your state!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lake Fishing with Shots - Catch Trout Feeding on the Surface

Trout fishing continues to be excellent at Goldwater Lake (Arizona). Folks are catching their limits in record time using PowerBait.

At this time of year, trout are feeding off the surface of the lake all day. So to catch them, you want to keep your bait on or near the surface of the lake (no deeper than 14-16 inches). Most of the people at the lake are using bobbers (no kidding) instead of sinkers with their PowerBait. This gives them casting distance as well as help keep their bait on the surface of the lake. In all of my years of fishing, using PowerBait with bobbers seemed dumb to most anglers since it went against common sense logic. But it works!

While others at my lake are using bobbers with PowerBait, still others are using slip shots. Once again, this is one of those things that defies logic.

Shots are most often associated with river, stream, and creek fishing - not lake fishing. But when trout are feeding on the surface of the water - you don't want those heavy sinkers taking your bait to the bottom of the lake. But if you've ever tried to cast a weightless line, you know it just doesn't work well. Using a slip shot on the line (just above the swivel) is a way to add a bit of casting weight, while ensuring your PowerBait stays on the surface of the water.

Sometimes you just have to think outside the box (or fishing net) to catch trout.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Know Your Bugs - Identification & Hatch Information

If you're a fly fisher, you know how important it is to be able to recognize different insects and their hatches. Having a good knowledge of the insects trout feed on helps you decide which artificial flies to use.

But few of us studied insects in this much detail. The library and internet are the best options for getting this information if you don't want to be an entomologist (one who studies insects). is great website to help you get a grasp on those bugs. There's tons of pictures, video, and information about the different insects and their hatches. They even have forum you join for free. Check it out. You'll love it!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

New World Record Brook Trout Caught in Manitoba!

Everybody dreams of catching the new world record trout, but few do. But on a Saturday morning in last month, Tim Matheson did just that.

He and his buddy were out fishing in Barbe Lake in Manitoba during a fishing tournament when Tim landed a 29-inch Brook trout! The girth measured 21-inches!

Unfortunately, according the IGFA rules the fish would have to die in order to qualify for entry into the record books. Like most avid anglers, this was not an option for Tim. A fish this size should be released back into the lake and that's exactly what Tim did. Even though it will never be seen in the IGFA record book, the record will live on forever in the minds of Tim and other trout anglers!

What's Tim's secret? Earlier in the day, Tim and his buddy had been trolling the lake as slow as they could in 14-16 foot water. They had successfully caught several big fish, including a couple of 27 - 29 inch Rainbow trout using a standard down-rig with floating crankbait.

Then Tim decided to remove the down-rig and replace it with a #13 jointed Rapala in chartreuse and then continued trolling. That's when it happened! The Brookie took his lure and gave Tim the excitement of his life!

Update (Feb. 2007) - the National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame has officially awarded Tim the 'catch and release' record for Brook trout.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout

Like other states, Montana considers it's Yellowstone Cutthroat trout to be of special concern - and due to last summer's Derby fire, the concern has just risen. Ash from the fire has contaminated two streams and threaten Yellowstone Cutthroat trout that live in it.

To mitigate the problem, Montana is preparing to move these trout out of the contaminated streams and into new streams before winter sets in. Moving fish always presents some risk - but if all goes well, these fish have a chance of surviving.

Although decreased populations exist, Yellowstone Cutthroat can still be found in Utah, Nevada, Montana, and Wyoming. Like Bull trout, these fish also require very clean and cold (39-59 degrees Fahrenheit) water to survive. They're very sensitive to sediments in their habitat. Preserving these fish has become a prime concern in many states.

Historically, Yellowstone Cutthroat trout were thought to inhabit much of the Yellowstone River basins. But over the years, there has been a decline in the number of these trout. Hybridization and other environmental factors are to blame.

Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout by the red slash marks under the lower jaw. Yellowstone Cutthroat trout are distinguished by other Cutthroat trout by the medium-large black spots on the hind end and the drab brownish, yellowish, or silvery coloration with bright colors usually absent in mature fish.

Yellow Cutthroat trout generally spawn in the Spring and early Summer.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How to De-Bone a Raw Trout

Once again, I spent the afternoon on Goldwater Lake fishing with my nephew. As has been the case since Fall began, we had no problem catching our limit in a short time period. We've been fishing 1-2 times a week since Fall began ... and needless to say, we're catching a LOT of trout!

But as much as we both enjoy fishing - neither one of us likes to eat fish! Personally, I think a lot of my problems have to do with the bones. I remember eating a lot of fish as a kid on camping trips and how the bones would get stuck in my throat! The bones always bothered me - even if only psychologically.

Luckily for me, I have a lot of family members who are always happy to eat all the trout I can catch. But even so, I've heard others complain about the bones when eating trout.

My solution has always been to cut off the tail (and head) before cooking. I've discovered that having the tail gone make it much easier to peel the bones away in tact after the trout is cooked. There might still be the odd bone or two, but not near as many.

But today, I was surfing the web, and came across a site that gave instructions for removing the bones BEFORE the trout was cooked! This intrigued me (and sadly, I had just finished cleaning tonight's catch when I found the site). But I wanted share the information in case others wanted to try it. I'd be really interested in hearing how it worked out. I will of course, have to remember to try it on my next catch.

I've copied and pasted the instructions below for removing the bones from a raw trout. I personally prefer method "A".

Method A
Place the trout on a board with the belly facing you. Using a sharp fish-filleting knife, very carefully cut between the top layer of bones and the flesh. Continue working towards the spine. When you reach this point, turn the fish over and repeat the process. Once the bone is loose, using a pair of scissors, cut the spine loose both at the tail and head end. You now have a bone-free trout, that may be cooked. This same method may be used for making gravlax, simply cut off the head and tail.

Method B
To de-bone this way, lay the fish with its back towards you. Using a sharp fish-filleting knife, make a clean cut just above the bone all the way along the back. Using firm short stokes, loosen the bone. Now turn the fish over and remove the bone from the other side. Now stand the fish on its belly and use a pair of scissors, cut the bone loose, head and tail. The fish can now be stuffed with a mousse type filling. If you find this method easier, it may also be used for filleting.

Ever cooked trout over a campfire? My favorite trout recipe was shared with me by my great grandfather. It can be used on a BBQ grill too.

Free Trout Fishing Lessons at Irvine Lake

If you live near Irvine, California and are having trouble catching trout, you might want to check out the free trout-fishing seminars at Irvine Lake! On the 3rd Saturday of each month, the Irvine Lake Pro-Team gives free trout fishing seminars at 8 a.m. in the picnic area.

They also post updated tips for catching trout at Irvine Lake. One of the challenges of trout fishing is that what works one day doesn't necessarily work the next. The tips on this web site is an excellent way of keeping up on what works and what doesn't!

If you're new to trout fishing, this is an opportunity you won't want to miss!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bull Trout and Dolly Varden

In my previous post, I mentioned that Bull trout are sometimes called Dolly Varden. Many people use these two terms interchangeably. At one time, Bull trout and Dolly Varden were thought to be the same species. They have similar coloring and markings.

But in a taxonomic report published in 1978, it was determined that Bull trout and Dolly Varden are really two distinct species. The American Fisheries Society accepted this report in 1980.

But a lot of anglers still haven't accepted this fact or still don't know about the report. Here's your chance to show off your knowledge of Bull trout and Dolly Varden.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Bull Trout

This week a survey of selected streams in northwest Montana near Glacier National Park reported an increase in Bull trout spawning beds (also called redds). Although the data is still being studied, this is encouraging news.

Bull trout (also known as Dolly Varden) are a threatened species which have been on the Endangered list since 1998. Today, they survive in only five states (Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and in Montana west of the Continental Divide). They also survive in two Canadian provinces (Alberta and British Columbia). Bull trout were also found in Northern California at one time, but are now extinct there.

Bull trout spawn in September and early October. Adfluvial Bull trout are thought to spawn about every other year, perhaps because they need a year of rest after such a long migration journey. Most Bull trout spawners are 5 - 9 years old. The eggs hatch in the winter, and in spring the young fry emerge. Young Bull trout live among the streambed rocks for 1 - 3 years where they eat small aquatic insects, before migrating downstream to larger streams and lakes. Bull trout are predators and primarily eat other fish when adults.

These trout require very cold (usually less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and clean water to survive. Over the years, damaged habitat, over-fishing and the introduction of non-native fish have threatened the survival of Bull trout.

Industry is primarily blamed for damaging Bull trout habitats. Logging causes runoff into streams and rivers, sharply raising sediment levels and thus water temperature, leaving waters both too warm and too "dirty" for the fish. Sediment clogs pores in the gravel, reducing the flow of oxygen to eggs, preventing fry from emerging from the gravel.

Dams and improper culvert placement have also contributed to reducing Bull trout populations by cutting them off from reaching their natural spawning grounds.

Another threat to Bull trout are other species of fish, which compete for food and space. Young Brook and Lake trout can push out young Bull trout. Lake trout, a voracious predator, can prey on Bull trout. Brown trout, Pike, and Bass can also compete with or prey on Bull trout.

Brook trout can interbreed with Bull trout, creating mostly sterile hybrids. This interbreeding saps reproductive energy from the Bull trout population. Hybridization is also threatening the Apache and Gila trout (also on the Endangered list).

And if these weren't enough challenges for Bull trout, anglers are also a threat.

Bull trout are part of the "char" family which includes Brook and Lake trout. Bull trout look very similar to Brook trout and the two species are often confused. Anglers are responsible for being able to identify different trout species and for knowing the rules.

In Montana, it's illegal to even fish for Bull trout, let alone catch and keep one. The exception to this rule is Swan Lake. In Nevada and Idaho, you can catch Bull trout, but not keep them. They must be released back into the water immediately.

The rules are pretty similar in other states as well. Since Bull trout are often confused with other species of trout, it's important to be able to identify them. Here are some tips to help:

  • Bull trout do not have black spots on their dorsal fins
  • Bull trout do not have black lines following the white line on their pelvic, pectoral, or anal fins
  • Remember, "No black, put it back"
When in doubt, it's better to release the fish then get caught possessing a Bull trout!

Just in case you were wondering, the recognized world record for Bull trout is 32 pounds. It was caught in Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille.

Test your knowledge of Bull trout by taking this online quiz!

Friday, November 03, 2006

What's Wrong with Bobbers and PowerBait?

After my earlier post, somebody emailed and asked why PowerBait isn't normally used with bobbers. It's a good question and I thought I should post the answer for everybody.

But first, let me say that just because most people don't use PowerBait with bobbers, doesn't mean you can't. The most successful anglers are those willing to try something different when nothing else seems to work.

The purpose of a bobber is to keep your bait near the surface the water. If you place a bobber just above the swivel and put a nightcrawler (or some other bait) on your hook, your bait will dangle below the bobber the length of your leader. Most trout fishers use a 12 - 18 inch leader, so their bait would be in the first 12 -18 inches of water below the surface. This works great if trout are feeding near the surface of water.

PowerBait floats by design. The main idea behind PowerBait is to keep your bait off the bottom of the lake. This makes it more visible for trout swimming by. If you're using an 18 inch leader, then your bait would normally float 18 inches above the bottom of the lake (assuming your sinker was sitting on the bottom of the lake).

Since both bobbers and PowerBait float, adding a bobber above your bait means that both are floating on the surface of the water. Trout must be feeding on the surface to see and take your bait.

Fall and Spring are the best times of year to fish for trout because water temperatures are cooler and trout are actively feeding near the surface of the water. As mentioned in my earlier post, we were fishing in a shallow part of the lake and trout were jumping all around us grabbing food off the surface of the lake.

If you wanted to catch trout, you had to keep your bait on the surface of the lake. And since PowerBait was the preferred bait of the day, adding a bobber to your line added casting weight and helped keep the bait on the surface of the water.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Different Tackle for Different Lakes

The really challenging thing about trout fishing is that you don’t always know what to expect from day to day. Monday I fished Goldwater Lake and caught trout after trout using my blue fox strobe spinner. Everybody around me was catching trout using spinners – all while shore fishing.

Yesterday, it was a different story. Trout wouldn’t touch spinners. They did seem to like one guy’s minnow lure – but that was it for lures. What did they want? PowerBait – and preferably Rainbow PowerBait.

While fishing yesterday, I also made quite a few observations and had the opportunity to talk to some real old-time fishermen who fish this particular lake every day.

I spend most of my time fishing a different lake (Lynx Lake) due to it’s location. But this week Lynx Lake has been closed, so I’ve been fishing Goldwater Lake instead.

Lynx Lake is quite large and is a standard man-made lake. The lakebed is shaped pretty much like a bowl, with the deepest part of the lake being in the middle. There are a lot of weeds and rocks on the bottom of the lake. The water is a bit murky, but not too bad.

Goldwater Lake is a bit smaller and is also man-made. The water at this lake is much clearer compared to Lynx Lake. But the really interesting thing about this lake is the water shelf. There is a really shallow end, which drops off into a deep end. In the past, I’ve fished the deep end, but not the shallow end. But the last two days, I’ve been fishing the shallow end – and it’s been an eye opener!

Just knowing I’m about to catch that trophy trout any day, I like to use 6 – 8 lb test on my spinning reel. If I’m bottom fishing, I use a ¼ to ½ ounce slip sinker above the swivel and an 18-inch leader. When spinner fishing, I don’t use any weight and just attach the spinner to the swivel. At Lynx Lake, I have much success with this setup.

But at Goldwater Lake (where the water is really clear), the 8 lb test line is too heavy. Trout have an easier time seeing it (especially when fishing in the shallow end of the lake). Local anglers tell me they have better success with 4 lb test than they do with 6 lb test.

Another thing that worked really well for folks yesterday was PowerBait and bobbers together. At the shallow end the lake, trout are near the surface of the water. The weather and water temps are cool and so trout are very happy and actively feeding on the surface. Going any deeper than 16 inches below the surface right now, destroys your chances of catching trout.

Removing all weight from the line, and placing a bobber above the swivel and adding PowerBait to a treble hook on a 12 – 18 inch leader proved very successful for anglers yesterday. Trout just couldn’t resist this setup! People were barely getting their lines into the water before having to reel in another trout.

Here are some fishing tips from this excursion to remember:

  • Pay attention to the water. The clearer and shallower it is, the lighter test line you need (stick with 2 – 4 lb test).
  • Don’t be afraid to talk to locals. Even though we have several good trout lakes in our area, people tend to frequent one or two over the others. Fishing can be quite a bit different at each of them. The water shelf and clearer water at Goldwater Lake requires different tackle and fishing tactics than at Lynx and other nearby lakes.
  • Most people associate bobbers with nightcrawlers and not PowerBait. Don’t be afraid to try something different – especially if you see folks around you catching fish using a different setup.
And most of all, have fun and take lots of pictures!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Eagle Lake Trout

Folks who don't live in California, might never have heard of Eagle Lake trout. Named for the lake in which they reside Eagle Lake - the second largest natural lake in California), these trout are Rainbows. Originally they were only found in Eagle Lake and Pine Creek (which flows into Eagle Lake). These waters have a high alkaline concentration and Eagle Lake trout are the only species that is able to survive in them.

Over the years less water has flowed into Pine Creek, thereby eliminating the natural spawning grounds. For years, Eagle Lake trout were thought to be extinct. But in the 1950's, a handful of these trout were discovered in Pine Creek. To protect the fish, the California Fish and Game Department decided to capture, spawn and raise Eagle Lake trout.

The Crystal Lake hatchery primarily handles this project for the State of California. Each year during spawning season, Eagle Lake trout are trapped in Pine Creek and their eggs are taken for development at the fish hatcheries.

Thanks to this hatchery, over 200,000 of these trout are raised each year and released into Eagle Lake and other Northern California waters.

Eagle Lake trout must weigh a half pound before they are released into the lake. So as you can imagine, those caught by anglers are quite a bit bigger (3 - 5 pounds being the average size). The largest record Eagle Lake trout caught weighed about 15 pounds.

The most successful fishing areas in the lake during the Spring months appear to be in the rocky shoal areas along the north and south shores.

Trolling is very popular and successful on Eagle Lake (especially in summer months when water temperatures rise). But anglers also have success when shore fishing with nightcrawlers. Medium weight spinning rods, using wobblers and plugs, and heavy fly rods, offering large wet flies, all do well on Eagle Lake.

Fishing at Eagle Lake opens each year on Memorial Day weekend (in May) and closes on December 31st. For more information about Eagle Lake, click here.