This website is dedicated to enhancing your fishing experience by giving advice on gear and tactics to catch trout with spinning tackle. But sometimes it's nice to boil things down to the basics. So hear are the 10 things that you should know to have the best trout fishing experience.
1. Carry Pliers
Needle-Nose pliers are more versatile than you'd think. You can use them to cut your line or extract a hook from a fish, or your landing net. Or yourself.
2. Cast Low.
When you cast, think "line-drive", not "pop-fly". A high, rainbow-shaped cast is more likely to be caught by the wind, and snag in a tree. Even if it's not a windy day, a high cast is harder to control than a fast, low cast. And if a low cast gets caught in a branch it's likely to be in a low branch and you'll have a much better chance to retrieve your lure.
3. Fish When You're the Most Comfortable
Fish are most active when it's the most comfortable to fish for them. That's a pretty nice coincidence. When it's hot out, they're active in the morning and evening, and when it's cooler they're active at mid-day.
4. Target Structures and Holes.
Finding fish can be very nuanced. But aiming for structures, such as rocks and logs, and holes, where the water runs a little deeper than the surrounding creek, is a good, basic rule that will help you find and catch fish fast.
5. Get Your Lure Deep Enough.
If the fish are deep, running a Mepps Aglia across the top of the water won't be enough to draw them to strike. There's nothing wrong with Aglia spinners, but they don't run as deep as the Mepps XD or Panther Martin spinners. If you're still not running deep enough, you can use a split shot on your line to get it down there. But a trout wants to do as little work when feeding as possible, so it's important to run your lure close to the fish.
6. Use Waders (or at Least Hip Boots).
When I was a kid, I fished streams with my dad by hopping along on rocks wearing ordinary boots or sneakers. I didn't dare venture into the water on those cold, Upstate New York spring days. But if you wear waders you get so much more access to the stream, and you not only catch more fish, but you lose fewer lures as well.
7. Don't Fear Unnatural Lure Colors
I was skeptical about the Mepps Hot Trout Kit, but one day when traditional silver and gold spinners weren't catching me anything, I found that brightly colored lures that look nothing like something a trout would ordinarily eat can be surprisingly effective.
8. Maintain Tension in a Fight.
But not too much. In other words, "keep your rod tip up". Don't give a hooked fish any slack, or it will throw the lure. And don't point your rod tip at the fish, or your line may break from too much tension.
9. When in Doubt, Throw it Back.
I like eating trout, but sometimes I doubt whether I should keep a relatively small, or unusually thin fish. Even a "legal" fish might warrant a catch-and-release. I've often regretted keeping fish that I get very little meat from. And if you throw that fish back, you have room in your daily limit to catch a bigger one.
10. Buy a License.
Besides it being the law, fishing licenses pay for fish stocking and conservation programs that keep rivers, creeks and streams full of healthy fish. For more information on getting a license and the laws in your state, check my Trout Regulations by State page.