Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

How important is retrieve speed in cold water? Some anglers may tell you that they fish just as fast in winter as they do in spring. However, most successful cold water anglers will tell you that slowing down the presentation is the best. Biologist and experienced anglers agree that bass will not chase a lure in water much colder than 50 degrees. An exception to this would be after bass move up shallow after a few warm days, and after a front has brought warm rain. As a rule of thumb it is best to slow down your presentation during the winter months.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and TacticsA grub can be one of the most effective bass lures for cold water. A 4 inch curly tail grub on a 1/4 ounce jig head can be all that is needed. Target steep chunk-rock banks with as much as 45 degree slope. Bass prefer these areas because they can make extreme depth changes up and down the water column to feed without using conserved energy. Cast to the shallow edge of the steep bank and then allow the grub to sink, raising the rod tip as the bait reaches the bottom to lift the grub. Anglers are successful when repeating this technique until the grub is back to the boat. Bass often bite when the grub is on the fall, so be ready to set the hook.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

If it is a trophy bass you’re hoping to catch during the winter, it is important to learn weather patterns. Timing your fishing trips when there is a break in the cold temperatures can help. Fronts usually bring warm rain as the temperature is rising and the barometric pressure is changing and this can be one of the most productive times to fish. A warm front in conjunction with a barometric change will cause bass to feed as the bait will migrate to the warmest areas usually in the back of creeks, then they will move out to the mouth as the water cools back down following the front. One degree in water temperature can make a huge difference. Fishing with cold water lures like a jig and trailer on the shaded banks just might land that trophy you’re looking for.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

During the winter months you may read a lot of articles about jigs and spinnerbaits and how to use them for cold water bass. Both lures do well as the jig and the spinnerbait are similar in design and use similar techniques when fishing them. The difference between the two is the spinner blade and the wire it’s attached to. However, The Punisher Head Spinner is a hybrid innovation between the two and features chip resistant paint job, a Sampo ball bearing swivel to enable the blade to spin easily at any retrieve speed. Backed with a sharp hook, the Head Spinner will hook and hold any bass that bites. The Head Spinner works well when fished over deep cover like brush piles, around standing cover like bridge pilings and standing timber, and along weed edges. You can use the Head Spinner with all of your favorite soft plastics or rig it with a skirt for a unique look. Use the Punisher Head Spinner with any single or double tail grub or the Super Fluke or Super Fluke Jr. as a trailer. In winter, as the water temperature falls into the middle to low 50’s, try pitching these innovative jigs to the wooden cover and work it the same way you would a jig. Allow it to fall while maintaining a tight line as it bounces off the limbs shimmering and fluttering on the way down. Watch for subtle line movement and be ready to set the hook.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

In winter as the water temperatures continues to drop and the lake turns, bass feed aggressively. Sensing that winter is close, and their metabolism will slow down bass prepare by feeding heavily on the big baits when the water temperature is in the 50s. This can be a great time to throw a soft plastic swim-bait. Concentrate in the 4- to 10-foot range near docks and remaining grass and broken mats. Under blue skies, a few days into a cold front fish deeper with a weighted swim-bait on the bottom like fishing a jig. Concentrate like a rock-pile or drop off by slowly crawling and hopping the bait across the structure. Baits like these by FishHouse Lures can quickly entice a cold water bite in winter.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

A soft plastic worm worked very slowly can be one of the most effective winter bass fishing techniques. By simply allowing the worm to lie motionless on targeted structure or “dead sticking” the worm and then “shaking” the rod tip occasionally can prevail. This technique will often trigger a strike. Using a bait injected with a quality bass attracting such as Attack Pak has with the Juiced Up X10 formula can be rewarding during the cold winter months.

Winter Bass Fishing Lures, Tips and Tactics

Bass jigs with crawfish trailer worked slowly across bottom structure and cover like rocks and wood can be a good tactic in winter. Cast the jig and allow it to settle a moment before starting your retrieve. Bass often grab the bait from the bottom. However, many strikes occur as the jig is on the fall. Fish the jig slowly, avoiding the temptation to retrieve the jigs quickly. Twitch and hop the bait along slowly, enticing the bass to take the bait.

These are more angler approved and tested methods for a cold water bass bite. Although winter fishing is somewhat limited there are many techniques suited for bass fishing in the cold water

Crappie Fishing Tips

Crappie Fishing Tips

 

Crappie Fishing TipsWelcome to our section on crappie fishing tips. Here you’ll get a chance to learn everything you’ll ever need to know about crappies and crappie fishing. It doesn’t matter if this is your first time fishing for crappie or if you’ve been doing it for years, there is information on this web page that will help you. First, you’ll have the option to learn more about crappies and get a better understanding of what they do and why they do it. Followed by a list of crappie fishing tips, crappie fishing records, crappie facts and a list of resources to further your research into fishing for crappie. We’re confident that this article can immediately help your fishing game.

About Crappie (Pomoxis Annularis)

White CrappieCrappie (pomoxis annularis & pomoxis nigromaculatus) is a species of fish native to North America. There are two types of species of crappie, white crappie (pomoxis annularis) and black crappie (pomoxis nigromaculatus). They live in freshwater and are one of the most popular game fish among anglers. Their habitat will usually consist of water that is moderately acidic and highly vegetated. When crappie are juveniles they feed mostly on prey that is microscopic, such as cyclops, cladocera and daphnia and when mature they will feed on aquatic insects, minnows, and fish fingerlings of other species.

A School of CrappieCrappie are a schooling fish and will also school with other types of pan fish. They prefer underwater structures like fallen trees, weed bends and other structures that might be submerged. Generally during the day crappie tend to stay deep under water and only move to shore when feeding, mostly at dawn or dusk. However, during their spawning period they can be found in shallow water in large concentrations. They do not go into any semi-hibernation during the winter, making them a prime target of anglers that are ice fishing. Crappies, both black and white can have color variance that is affected by their habitat, age and the colors of the local breeding population.

 

Crappie Fishing Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Most likely you came to this web page for the below information, our crappie fishing tips. These tips were put together by our team by searching all over for the most effect tips used for crappie fishing. In fact, some of the below tips even came from anglers such as yourself. Feel free to submit a fishing tip if you’d like to see your own crappie fishing secret appear below.

    • Use the Right Fishing Knot– If you’re fishing for crappie with a jig you should use a loop knot. This type of fishing knot will allow the jig to move more freely when casted. In addition, it provides crappie with a subtle movement that is very enticing when done vertically to the fish.

 

    • The Best Live Bait Setup– One of the best bait setups for crappie is to use a #6 hook, a small split shot, a live minnow and a slip bobber. The slip bobber will allow you adjust for any depth while not sacrificing casting ability. Hook the minnow either through both lips or just behind the top dorsal fin.
    • Fish the Right Depth– Crappie can usually be found between three and six feet of water. During the peak of summer crappie will move to deeper areas and come out to the surface during dawn and dusk to feed.
    • Keep the Line Tight– Crappie are known to have a soft lip. This means that they can tear easily and shake your hook if the line isn’t kept tight enough. Luckily crappie will put up a good fight, so keeping your line tight shouldn’t be a difficult task.
    • Don’t be in a Hurry– Crappie will give you more action if you are slow and steady with your jig and/or minnow. Try to avoid retrieving your cast too quickly. If you’re not getting any action and you know crappie are in the area then try slowing down.
  • Use a Topographical Map– Since depth is important when trying to fish for crappie you’ll want to make sure you use a topographical map of the body of water you’re fishing. A map will at least contain depths and in some instances sunken structures like fish beds. You don’t need to pay for these, there are tons of free ones available on the internet.

Crappie Fishing Records

Below is the world record crappie caught by anglers just like yourself. This information came from the IGFA (International Game Fish Association) at the time this content was written. While these type of records do change it’s not that often, you can look up crappie records in real time by visiting the IGFA website. Their is a link to their website in the additional resources on crappie section below. Who knows, in the future we might find your name in the top anglers for crappie because you used information on this web page!

Walleye World RecordJohn R. Hortsman caught a black crappie in a private lake in Missouri, USA on April 21st 2006 that weighted 2.26 kg (5 lbs. 0 oz.)

Walleye World RecordFred Bright caught a white crappie at Enid Dam in Mississippi, USA on July 31st 1957 that weighted 2.35 kg (5 lbs, 3 oz.)

 

Crappie Facts

We’ve put together for you some basic facts and data about crappie. This information is useful to better understand this type of popular game fish and to get an idea of what to expect when fishing for them. The maximum weight and length is from the latest all-time record at the time this information was written. It may have changed slightly, but that is only for the top 0.5% of crappie you’ll find in the wild.

  • Scientific Name: Pomoxis annularis (white) & Pomoxis nigromaculatus (black)
  • Nickname(s): Papermouth, Sac-a-lait, slab, speck and speckled perch
  • Average Lifespan: 10 years in the wild and 12 years in captivity
  • Length: Up to 20″ for white crappie and 19″ for black crappie
  • Weight: Up to 5 pounds, average is quarter to half pound
  • Range: North America
  • Spawning Water Temperature: Black crappie 58-64 degrees and white crappie 60-65 degrees

 

Water Temperature and Crappie Fishing

Water Temperature and Crappie 


Most experienced anglers consider water temperature to be the single most important factor governing the occurrence and behavior of crappie and their locations. They sometimes behave in what seems an irrational or unpredictable way. Once the angler understands how water temperature influences crappie behavior, they can pinpoint crappie throughout the year.

Using some kind of water temperature gauge or a simple pool thermometer will help get you onto fish much quicker. Most depth finders today also have a water surface temperature reading capabilities. When a temperature reading is given on a gauge or a fishing report (DNR, Game & Fish, newspaper, etc.), it is referring to the temperature at or near the water surface. With those temps listed, you can figure on the deeper water being a few degrees cooler. Also the temperatures of the creeks and protected bays could be higher or lower by several degrees, depending on inflowing water in creeks, water clarity and sunshine/cloud cover.

LOCATION GUIDELINES

Crappie generally start their movement out of their deep water winter haunts when the water temperatures start warming towards the 45-50 degree range. They will congregate around the entrances of creek channels until the water temps reaches around the 50-55 degree range. Then you can expect them to begin migrating towards the shallower secondary creeks and bays, using the channels as “highways”. At this point, try trolling minnows or casting a CULPRIT Tassel Tail or Curl Tail grub to isolated stumps, brush and small pockets, and retrieving them back very slowly. When water reaches in the 55-60 degree range, the males should be in shallow water looking and fanning out spawning beds, while the females stage out in the closest deeper water structures. Crappie feed more aggressively and baitfish are more active as spawning nears. Try dropping a minnow under a cork into the spawning beds for males. Use a cast and slow retrieve with a CULPRIT Paddle Tail grub for the deeper females.
As a general rule, surface temperatures in the 62-65 degree range are almost perfect for shallow, spawning crappie. The females will then move in and around brushy cover. Your best bet now is to drop live minnows under a cork. Any bad weather or cold fronts can set the whole process back a few days to a few weeks. This will be explained in more detail later.
When water warms to the 70-75 degree range, the females will leave their nest and move to nearby deep structures where they staged before the spawning. The males stay behind to guard the nests. Use a cast/retrieve slowly with the CULPRIT Paddle tail grub. By the time water reaches 75 degrees, the males will be joining the females and migrate through the channels the same way they came in back out to the deep cooler water for the summer.
When the water starts to cool in the fall, they will again move back into the creek channels to feed heavily for the upcoming winter months. Most crappies will stage halfway up the tributaries near to the pre-spawn locations. Casting the CULPRIT Crappie Baits such as the Tassel Tail, Paddle Tail and Curl Tail jigs is an effective and fun way to catch crappies now. When water temps fall in the mid-40’s range, they will migrate back to deep water in the main lake.
Keep in mind that these water temperature ranges are arbitrary, depending on the locations of the water you fish. For example, crappies spawn when water is in the 62-65 degree range, which can be as early as January in the Deep South or as late as June in the North.

COLD FRONTS AND FALLING WATER TEMPERATURES

There’s another factor that seem to be even more important than just a specific temperature. Let’s say you found great fishing for a couple days at the 65 degree mark. Then a relatively mild front comes in and drops the surface temperature down to 62 degrees. Even though the water temperature is still in the “ideal” range, you may find that fishing is off considerably. Fish are not completely without the ability to regulate their body temperature. They have the instinctive ability to behaviorally thermo regulate. This means they seek out areas of preferred temperature in an environment that is not at uniform temperature.
Especially in the Spring, crappie are super-sensitive to temperature variation. A sudden drop when the temperature is in the 50’s is more dramatic to fish behavior than a similar drop from the 60’s.
You may have to alter your tactics and try deeper water or heavier cover to counter the effects of the sinking temperatures. Also, concentrate on those northern shorelines or coves protected from northerly cold fronts and exposed to the longest period of southerly sunlight.

Keeping a close watch on water temperatures can make a weighty difference in your stringers of crappies throughout the year.

Trout Tips from Spring Creek Treasure -Temperature and Season

Trout Tips from Spring Creek Treasure

Water temperature dictates when trout will feed and it should dictate when the angler will fish.
Water has its greatest density at 38 to 39 degrees and trout seldom hit when the water temperature is below 40 degrees.
Frequently taking the water temperature tells you if it’s rising or falling one degree.  Thus I take the water temperature at least once every hour.  If the temperature is slowly rising up to 63 degrees you will want to keep fishing.  However, if the water temperature drops one degree the trout usually quit feeding.  As you read further in the book you will understand the importance of this information.
Having kept thirty-four years of water temperature data I have concluded there are three significant water temperatures at which trout seem to feed best.  And, without fail the trout stream temperature will frequently range between those three significant temperatures during March, in Southwestern Wisconsin.  I have identified the three significant feeding periods as the 40 degree rise, the 45 degree rise, and the 49 degree rise.  What was most difficult was identifying why the feeding usually picked up at 40, 45, and 49 degrees.  It took more research and the application of science to figure that out.
108.  At 67 degrees trout quit feeding, therefore, you should move upstream to cooler water or quit fishing.
129.  The grasshopper is an excellent free bait for August and September fishing.  The fly angler should try a weighted Joe’s Hopper.
134.  During the last two months of the season fish the upper third of the trout stream.
135.  Use a nymph fly tied by John Bethke, the Pink Squirrel, in spring creeks.
141.  After the first leaves turn in late August brown trout become territorial and they will smash your lure even when not hungry.
143.  In late August the time of day to fish can change from early to late morning.  And in September it can change to the middle of the day.
46.  The sun is highest in the sky from April 21 to August 21, and that is when you should fish early morning or when the sky is overcast.
48.  When approaching a pool with cover, where a big trout might be located, wade quietly like a deer on the shallow side of the stream.
49.  Fish the shadow areas of the stream when the sun hits the water.
57.  When the water temperature rises above 63 degrees trout start to shut down; and at 67 degrees they are usually dormant and refuse to hit an artificial.
62.  As the cold front approaches, when clouds appear and the air temperature is stable or rising, you can have excellent fishing.

An Introduction to Fly Fishing

An Introduction to Fly Fishing

Anglers fly fish for the same reason some deer hunters use
longbows and arrows. By reducing automation, they make the sport more
personal, more intimate and more satisfying. And, like an archer who
makes his own arrows, a fly fishermen can create his own flies or build
his own rods. The fun in that recipe can add 10 happy years to anyone’s
life.

Fly fishing is different from other kinds of fishing in a couple of
ways. Most basically, the weight of the line propels the cast, not the
weight of the bait or lure. A tiny fly is very light, but it is possible
to present it to a fish 40 feet away by using a fly line.

Most anglers come to fly fishing after a long apprenticeship in other
kinds of fishing, be it with live bait, bass lures or deep sea tackle. I
spent many hours plastered to the seat of a boat dangling minnows over
the side or sitting on a mud-slick creek bank trying to outwit catfish
before ever holding a fly rod.

When I first started fly fishing, I spent a lot of time on streams
full of greedy sunfish and small, naive bass. Casting colorful woolly
worms and little popping bugs, I waded in cool waters for hours on end
catching lots of small, feisty fish while learning to keep a fly line
airborne.

 

Fly Rod

Missouri anglers can start with one fly rod that will maximize the
fun in catching sunfish, small stream bass and trout. Most fly rods
today are made from graphite and, sometimes, a combination of other
materials, such as fiberglass. This is good, resilient stuff that can be
turned into a light, sweet-casting rod. The least expensive rods will
probably contain less graphite and more fiberglass.

Experienced fly anglers select a rod based on the “line weight” the
rod is rated for, the rod action and the length of the rod. Rod
“actions” are rated fully-flexing, medium, medium-fast and fast. As rods
progress from the most flexible to the fastest, they become stiffer.

Short, light fly rods suitable for sunfish use feather-weight lines,
while longer, more muscular rods used for bass fishing require heavier
lines to tease the leverage out of them. A new fly caster should look
for a rod in the medium range. It will “load” (flex the rod) with its
matched line at short to medium ranges, making casting easier at the
distances most people actually fish.

Another consideration might be how many pieces the rod comprises. If
you carry your rod in a small car, you might like the convenience of a
short tube that holds a multi-piece rod.

For your first fly rod, consider one between 8-9 feet long. A rod
designated for a 4- or 5-weight line is a good starting place. There are
two ways to dive in. One is to buy a rod, reel and fly line separately.
The other is to buy a package that includes these items, plus a
protective tube for the rod and a leader to go with the line. You can
get a good quality, entry-level kit for about $180.

Whichever you buy, I suggest you do so at a full-service fly tackle
shop where knowledgeable people can help you. You can take a step up in a
fly rod by considering a rod alone that costs in the range of $250.
This might get you a better grade of graphite and nicer trim.

The tip of a fly rod is delicate. That’s why some rods now come with
lifetime guarantees. It doesn’t matter if the fish of your dreams breaks
the rod or you slam it in a cabin screen door, the manufacturer repairs
or replaces it at no cost to you.

 

Reel

A fly reel should serve a purpose beyond merely storing line. Use it
to play fish, once they are hooked. Many fly reels have drags to reduce
the stress on the line.

A basic die-cast aluminum reel with a simple drag system costs about
$40 and will suffice for most Missouri angling. By tightening or
increasing the drag, you control how much pressure a fish has to apply
to peel line off the reel. Double the price for a basic reel and you can
get a die-cast version with a more efficient disc-drag.

If you are of the Swiss watch persuasion, you may prefer a reel
machined from aluminum bar stock. These reels are mechanical marvels,
but there is something to be said for starting out with a reel that you
don’t have to worry about dropping on a gravel bar, or denting or
scratching in any other way. If someday you move up the fly reel ladder,
your initial reel can still serve as a reliable backup.

 

Lines

The line is what makes a fly rod work, and while fishing you will
usually be holding your rod with one hand and the line in your other.
You actually manipulate the line with your hand rather than with the
reel.

A leader, made of the same type of monofilament material used in spin
fishing lines, connects fly line to fly. Fly anglers generally use
tapered leaders 9-12 feet long. Tapered fly leaders generally cost $3 to
$4. Their packaging specifies the type of fly fishing for which they
are best suited.

Tackle makers use an effective system to size fly lines, making it
easy to match a given line to a given rod. The weight, in grains, of the
first 30 feet of a fly line designates its size. (A grain is the
smallest unit of measure in the U.S. One pound avoirdupois equals 7,000
grains.) Many anglers find a 5-weight fly line (and matched rod) ideal
for Missouri trout fishing. The first 30-feet of this line weighs 140
grains, plus or minus 6 grains.

Fly lines range in length from about 60-90 feet. Consider purchasing a
double-taper or weight-forward fly line. A double-taper fly line is fat
in the middle and tapered to a finer point at both ends. The belly of
the line provides the weight to cast, while the tapered end presents the
fly in a delicate manner, making it ideal for fishing a floating fly.
Double-taper lines also are economical. When one end becomes worn, you
can thread it the opposite way on the reel and have a fresh end to use.

A “weight-forward” fly line works well for medium- and long-range
casting. One contemporary weight-forward line has a tip of about 7 feet,
a belly of 27 feet, a rear taper of 6 feet and 50 feet of thin running
line. The weight that loads the rod and drives the line forward is up
front, while the running portion trails behind. A weight-forward line
really shoots for distance and does well in windy conditions or when
casting bulky flies.

 

Casting

Fly casting at moderate distances is not difficult. The good news is that you can catch fish while you are learning to do it.

The two best ways to grip a fly rod are with your thumb along the top
of the grip, or with your forefinger along the top. To learn the basic
cast, imagine you are standing next to a large clock. Straight ahead is 9
o’clock, and straight behind is 3 o’clock. The motion you will use in
just about all fly casting limits the movement of the rod between the
positions of 10 o’clock (in front) and 2 o’clock (behind).

Start with about 15 feet of fly line off of your reel in a pile at
your feet and about 6-8 feet of fly line beyond the tip of the rod. You
are going to work the line in the pile out by making a casting motion
back and forth, or false casting. Begin with the rod in front of you
with your wrist tilted down slightly. Lift with your arm, then snap your
wrist while briskly moving the rod back to 1 o’clock. At the same time,
pull downward with the hand holding the line. The pull accelerates the
speed of the airborne line.

An all-important pause takes place at this point in the cast. The
pause allows the fly line time to straighten out behind you. Then, bring
the rod “smartly” forward, snapping your wrist down a bit when the rod
hits 10 o’clock. Release the line in your hand; some of it will shoot
forward. Continue false casting until you have the amount of line that
you need airborne, and then release the line, shooting it forward for
the actual delivery to your target.

The most common errors in fly casting are failing to pause on the
back cast, and not applying power on the forward cast. If you do not
pause, your line is going to meet itself coming and going, and it may
actually snag on itself or snag your rod. If you fail to apply power on
the forward cast, the line may simply fall in a puddle at your feet
rather than delivering your fly to its target. A third problem is
waiting too long on the back cast, which can cause the line to make a
cracking sound, like a whip.

 

Help

If you do not have a friend who can help you improve your fly
casting, your local parks and recreation department may offer a fly
fishing class. A Trout Unlimited or Federation of Fly Fishers club in
your area can show you how to cast and might introduce you to fly tying.

There is beauty in fly fishing. In an article appearing in the
magazine of a national fly fishing club, Michael Fong wrote, “What
separates fly fishing from other forms of fishing is the joy that comes
by feeling and watching as the fly is propelled through the air as the
cast is executed.”

There is something in the sight of an uncoiling fly line that I find incredibly soothing. I’ll bet you will, too.

 

Useful Items:

  • 9-foot fly fishing leader tapered to 6-pound test
  • One spool each of 3- and 2-pound-test leader tippet to add to above
  • One light-weight fly box
  • Clipper to trim leader ends
  • Hemostat to remove hooks from fish
  • Small landing net
  • Fishing vest (this is the fly fisher’s tackle box)
  • A card or book that illustrates fly fishing knots
  • A small selection of flies for the type of fish you pursue

Texas Rig Instructions

Texas Rig Instructions

The “Texas Rig” refers to a way of riging your bait. It is one of the most common rigs used while fishing with soft plastics. One of the reasons it’s so popular is because it’s almost completely weedless. This rig is great for fishing in and around weeds and heavy cover.

What you need

  1. Worm hook
  2. Plastic Worm
  3. Bullet Weight

How To rig it

Texas Rig Instructions

Power Bait Trout RIgs

PowerBait Trout Dough Bait

PowerBait Trout Dough Bait comes in a variety of colors and scents. Depending on your area, one color and/or scent may be preferred over others.
As a general rule, we use two in particular – Glitter Trout Dough Bait Rainbow with Garlic Scent and Glitter Trout Dough Bait Rainbow with Extra Scent.
We have discovered the extra scent and the different colors along with the glitter tend to trigger more strikes in the ponds we fish.
That said, we also bring a container of pink PowerBait Trout Dough Bait as a back up; pink is one color missing in the Rainbow offering.
To fish the PowerBait Trout Dough Bait, the Team uses four fishing rigs which are described in the sections below.
Do check them out and let us know if they work for you this Season!

PowerBait – Trout Dough Bait

PowerBait FW Natural Garlic Scent Glitter Trout Fishing Bait (Rainbow)

List Price: $5.99

Trout Fishing Rig Components
Trout Fishing Rig Components

Components for the Trout Fishing Rigs

The photo in the sidebar shows the components used for the four Trout Fishing Rigs used by the Field Team.
In addition, the following is a list of the components for your reference:

  1. Three 1/8oz Bullet Weights
  2. One 3/0 Split Shot
  3. One #6 Split Shot
  4. Three Beads
  5. Two Small Barrel Swivels (or Snap Swivels)
  6. Four Treble Hooks (size 14-20)

These are the basic components used to make the four Trout Fishing Rigs. However, the weight of the Bullet Weights and the size and/or number of Split Shot used can be modified based on the existing conditions such as wind, current flow, and casting distance.

4lbs Fishing Line
4lbs Fishing Line

Fishing Line

For ease of illustration, we are using a yellow Dacron line to make the Trout Fishing Rigs described in this article.
When fishing, we use 4-6 lbs test monofilament fishing line. More often, the brand is Stren or Trilene; whatever happens to be on sale at our local sporting goods store.
Trout Fishing Rig #1 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #1 Components
Threading the Bead
Threading the Bead
Completed Bead
Completed Bead
Trout Fishing Rig #1
Trout Fishing Rig #1

Trout Fishing Rig #1

The first of the four Trout Fishing Rigs described in this article uses a Bullet Weight, a Bead, and a Hook.
To make this rig, begin by threading the fishing line through the Bullet Weight, pointed end toward your reel.
Next, thread the fishing line through the Bead from one end.
And then, double the fishing line back, and thread it through the Bead a second time.
The fishing line should pass through the same end when threaded through the Bead the first time.

When the fishing line is tightened, the Bead should look like the picture in the sidebar – “Completed Bead”.
Also, allow for 12-18 inches of fishing line on the tag end. If you need to increase the tag end, loosen the line through the bead and adjust to the desired length.

Finally, using an improved clinch knot, tie the hook to the tag end. Refer to the picture in the sidebar – “Trout Fishing Rig #1” to see the completed rig.
This is a quick rig to tie and allows for adjusting the tag end (leader) by loosening the loop through the Bead.
When used with an Ultralight Fishing Rod, it casts easily and makes for long cast when needed.
It also is sensitive to light strikes as the line slips through the weight minimizing drag, which will increase hook ups with finicky Trout.
The drawback… it is limited in strength because of the loop created by the Bead. It should only be used where small Rainbow Trout are stocked (9-13 inch Trout).
If larger Rainbow Trout are in the area, better to use Trout Fishing Rig #2 or Trout Fishing Rig #3.

Trout Fishing Rig #2 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #2 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #2
Trout Fishing Rig #2

Trout Fishing Rig #2

The second Trout Fishing Rig uses a Bullet Weight, Bead, a small Swivel, and a Hook.
To make this rig, begin by threading the fishing line through the Bullet Weight, pointed end toward your reel.
Next, thread the fishing line through the Bead, and then, using an improved clinch knot, tie the small Swivel to the fishing line.
Then, measure 12-18 inches of fishing line to make a leader; and then, cut and tie it to the other end of the small Swivel.
Finally, tie the tag end of the leader to the Hook. Refer to the picture in the sidebar – “Trout Fishing Rig #2” to see the completed rig.
This rig takes a little longer to tie compared to Trout Fishing Rig #1 and does not readily allow for ease of adjusting the leader’s length. However, it will handle larger Rainbow Trout!
It is sensitive to light strikes as the line slips through the weight minimizing drag like in Trout Fishing Rig #1.
It’s drawback is when fished in rivers with a strong current the rig may slip and result in missed hook sets. When this happens, use Trout Fishing Rig #3.
Trout Fishing Rig #3 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #3 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #3
Trout Fishing Rig #3

Trout Fishing Rig #3

The third Trout Fishing Rig uses a small #6 Split Shot, a Bullet Weight, a Bead, a small Swivel, and a Hook.
To make this rig, follow the same steps as Trout Fishing Rig #2.
Then, push the Bullet Weight and Bead against the small Swivel.
Finally, attach the small #6 Split Shot about two inches from the Bullet Weight. Refer to the picture in the sidebar – “Trout Fishing Rig #3” to see the completed rig.
By adding the small #6 Split Shot, the rig will handle stronger currents and lessen the likelihood of a slack line caused by the current.
Trout Fishing Rig #4 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #4 Components
Trout Fishing Rig #4
Trout Fishing Rig #4

Trout Fishing Rig #4

The fourth Trout Fishing Rig is the simplest to setup, using a 3/0 Split Shot and a Hook.
To make this rig, attach the hook to the fishing line with an improved clinch knot.
And then, measure 12-18 inches from the hook and attach the 3/0 Split Shot.
That’s it… refer to the picture in the sidebar – “Trout Fishing Rig #4” to see the completed rig.
This rig is the least sensitive of all the rigs described because the fishing line does not slip through the weight and the fish will feel drag against the weight.
However, it will handle larger Rainbow Trout. It uses a minimum of components (a hook and a split shot). More weight can be added as conditions require. And, it is quick to setup especially with cold fingers in freezing weather!

Baiting Trout

Offering tasty baits, whether manmade or natural, is the way to lure hungry trout released from the hatchery.

Fly-fishing and trout go together like hotdogs and baseball, yet during the early season, conditions may not be favorable for any form of artificial offering. Granted, it’s a lot of fun watching a wily trout rise beneath a dry fly, and the anticipation of awaiting the strike is almost beyond description. Conversely, it is equally frustrating to watch a trophy trout cruise within range of a perfectly presented nymph then completely ignore your offering.
There’s one thing, however, that’s rarely ignored: bait. Most trout, especially those fresh from the hatchery, rarely forego the opportunity to dine on an easy meal.
SALMON EGGS
Salmon eggs are a highly productive trout bait, especially on opening day. They’re the right size and shape, and in many instances, they are saturated with flavored oils for added enticement. Cheese-flavored eggs seem to be the most popular.
Salmon eggs come in a variety of colors. While red and yellow seem to top the list with fishermen, many anglers have switched to the new fluorescent colors, claiming that they’re more productive during the season’s first few days. And, for some unexplained reason, trout tend to be more attracted to various shades of red over many of the brighter colors.
The popularity of salmon eggs has always been quite high among early-season trout anglers, so high that hook manufacturers went to the trouble to design hooks specifically for use with salmon eggs. They are available in various sizes ranging from No. 8 to No. 14. These hooks have extremely short shanks and come in both turned-up and turned-down eye styles. When properly rigged, the hook can easily be concealed entirely within a single salmon egg. Consequently, the only thing the rainbow, brookie or brown actually sees, even in clear water, is the egg itself.





CHEESE
What do you do when your local tackle shop is sold out of salmon eggs? Make a quick stop at the corner convenience store. Most are open 24 hours a day, and they all sell cheese.
Most soft cheese products make great trout baits, particularly when you’re targeting trout that are fresh from the hatchery. Cheese oils rapidly disperse with the currents, often luring hungry trout from incredible distances. Additionally, soft cheese can readily be formed around a salmon egg hook and molded into pellet-shaped morsels. When all other forms of bait fail, a small glob of cheese may save the day.
MARSHMALLOWS
The first person to use marshmallows for bait was either very creative or totally frustrated. Whatever the case may have been, it worked. Yes, those tiny cocktail marshmallows have saved the day for many trout anglers, especially during the season’s first few days. While marshmallows don’t resemble any form of trout food, hatchery or natural, they do emit sufficient odor to attract various species of fish. In fact, some anglers complain that they are too effective.
Marshmallows can be cut or torn into smaller pieces, then easily formed to cover a salmon egg hook. However, because they have a relatively high air content, marshmallows have the tendency to float. Therefore, a small piece of split shot, preferably BB size must be added to the line about 12 to 18 inches above the hook. This will place the bait close to the bottom. Be sure not to add more weight than necessary to hold bottom, while still allowing the bait to drift naturally. Add too much weight and you’ll spend most of your time trying to dislodge the split shot from snags.
CORN
While fresh corn, yellow or white, doesn’t seem to work well at all, canned, whole-kernel, yellow corn makes a great trout bait. Some believe this is because fine-ground grains are one of the main components in fish pellets, one of which may be corn. The list of ingredients on the side of the fish pellet can does not specify which types of grains are used, but corn seems to top the list of most commercially prepared fish and animal foods. If this is indeed the case, there’s a good argument for the use of corn for trout bait, particularly during the early days of the season.
Again, the bait should completely cover the hook. Depending on the hook’s size, this may require two or possibly three kernels. Fortunately, corn has a slight negative buoyancy, therefore, only one or two split shot may be required to maintain the proper depth. If the stream or river currents are somewhat fast, more weight may be required to maintain the correct depth.
NATURAL BAITS
Worms
While some designated trout streams mandate the use of artificial lures or flies only, many stocked streams permit the use of various forms of natural bait. Obviously, before fishing any body of water, it is a good idea to carefully scrutinize the regulations pertaining to that location. If it is permissible to use live bait, then the selection is almost endless. After feeding on fish pellets for nearly a year, newly stocked trout have two options: switch to natural foods or starve to death. A week or two after stocking, most trout will eat just about anything that comes along, especially if it looks perfectly natural.
Nothing is more appealing to a hungry trout than a fat, pink, juicy garden worm floating with the currents. Even when the weather has been too cold for the worms to occur naturally, trout will instinctively pounce on a properly presented worm. The key to success is proper presentation. As with all forms of bait, the hook should be well hidden. Additionally, if a piece of split-shot is required in order to reach bottom, use just enough weight to maintain the correct depth, while still allowing the bait to drift naturally with the currents.
The worm should be cast upstream at a 45-degree angle, preferably well above the head of the pool. Just as soon as the bait hits the water, close the reel’s bail and begin a slow, deliberate retrieve. Keep sufficient tension on the line to detect the slightest strike and also to gently lift the bait over the snags.
Minnows
A few weeks into the season, trout will actively feed on minnows. While many states do not permit the use of native minnows, tiny fathead minnows are a good substitute, particularly when they measure no longer than 2 inches. The minnows can be either lip-hooked or impaled just beneath the dorsal fin, thereby keeping them alive and active as they drift through deep pools. Some anglers find that attaching a small, clear plastic float aids them in casting the minnow to the most productive locations, such as close to submerged boulders or close to an undercut segment of shoreline.
Crayfish
Small crayfish, those measuring just 1 to 2 inches in length, are great trout baits, especially as the season progresses and water temperatures begin to rise. They can be hooked through the tail and scooted across the bottom, or hooked carefully through the nose and walked over the bottom. Both techniques seem to be equally effective. Keep in mind, however, that crayfish reside and often hide beneath flat rocks; therefore, unless you keep constant tension on the line, they will quickly scurry under any suitable rock.
Hellgrammites
Hellgrammites, the larvae of dobson flies, are likely among the ugliest creatures that nature could have ever dreamed of. They have a prehensile tail, a soft black body with lots of legs and head that resembles that of a gigantic ant. Unlike a butterfly that becomes a beautiful, winged creature after metamorphosis, the dobson fly just grows wings and remains ugly. You can find them residing on the back side of partly submerged, flat rocks in most free-flowing streams. They’re not pretty, but they’re irresistible to any trout.
Hellgrammites have a hard-shell collar that is located directly behind the nasty-looking head and powerful pincers. The collar is a good place not only to hold them, but additionally, it’s a great place to insert your hook. In this particular instance, the hook will be exposed, therefore, a small No. 10, short-shanked, bronze hook will be your best bet. The hook’s color closely resembles that of the hellgrammite. The only problem trout anglers complain about when using hellgrammites is that everything in the stream seems to enjoy eating them.
As the season progresses, other forms of natural baits will become highly productive. Don’t overlook such crickets, grasshoppers, moths and various forms of insect larvae. As each of these becomes available naturally, they also become an integral part of a trout’s diet.

Speckled Trout Report

We just spent a week in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed our time with the kids.  We spent our days lounging near the pool or the beach.  My highlight was my guided trip for Speckled Trout.

There are several ways to fish for Spec’s, but we focused on Drift Fishing over oyster beds and near gas rigs.  Drift fishing is often done over oyster beds, sand flats, rocky bottoms, or near structures.  Some of the favorite lures are the artificial cocahoe minnow, split tail beetle, but we had our best luck with Baby Bass colored Zoom flukes.   According to the guide it is the closest in color and size to the natural bait fish of the area.
In order to locate specks, we began fishing the top and worked our way to the bottom. In many cases the fish will be near the surface or at mid level depths.  If the water is very rough they may head to the bottom.

We had our best luck using a slow retrieve with a twitch in 10-15 feet. In several cases we caught fish while just letting it drift with the current.  This pattern was found by accident as on of the guys was fixing his line.  After the third fish caught during his tangle time, we all decided to try it. It turned out the fish were hanging out near the middle and the bottom and they wanted it very slow.

Bottom/Bait Fishing
Although we didn’t use bait this time, it is often times the best way to catch trophy Specks.   The best bait to use is baitfish such as croakers, pogies, or menhaden, live shrimp and live cocahoe minnows. A number 5 or 6 kale hook works well for the larger trout.  Hook the bait fish through the lips or the dorsal fin.  Do not use weights.  This allows them so swim freely.  If you are fishing deeper water or if the current is strong, use a carolina rig.

Read the Water –  Locate the Game Fish
Feeding Seagulls are a sure sign.  Another sign to look for is called a Slick.  These oil slicks are from the the game fish eating bait fish. Fish near or under these slicks to locate Specks.

Stealthy
Be sure to use your trolling motor instead of your large motor once you are close. Do not spook these fish!  Longer casts get allow you to sneak up on the big fish before they know you are there.

Night Fishing
Many of the larger Specks feed at night when there is less traffic.  Give it a try near lighted boat docks.

Other Lures that worked well for Specks –
MirrOLures, Spoons, Zara Spooks, Riplin Redfins, plastic cocahoe minnows, and 52-M18 MirrOLures.

Gulf Shores Guide
My guide did a great job.  His contact info- Tidewaterfishing@live.com  (251) 279-1224