HOW TO CATCH STOCKED TROUT
Catching stocked trout is a fun way to spend a morning and afternoon. Even better when you’re catching fish! This article will discuss little known facts about the habits of stocked trout. Understanding the habits of the fish you are trying to catch will help you catch them. Important highlights are what trout eat, what triggers them to strike a lure, at what depth they swim at, how they react when freshly planted and how they behave after some time has passed. Knowing these facts will help you catch stocked trout.
What do stocked trout eat?
Stocked trout are accustomed to eating brown food pellets. They don’t generally know to eat anything else. If you cut open the stomach of a stocked trout it is very likely that you will find things like brown leaves, parts of acorns, and bits of twigs. The one thing in common to all of these stomach contents is that they are brown and arrived in the water after having been blown into it. Quite likely the twig or bit of leaf floated in the wind and splashed down on the water. This matches the feeding pattern of stocked trout: they are accustomed to brown pellets splashing down over them. For trout, during the first couple weeks after having been planted in a lake, food is something brown that splashes into the water.
Trout identify food with patterns
This leads to an important point about how trout (and most fish) identify food. Fish identify food by matching patterns. A pattern can be the size of the bait or lure, the color of the bait or lure, the way the bait/lure was presented to them (for example, by a splashdown or a “fleeing” motion that triggers an instinctual chase response). These are all patterns. Understanding that trout identify food by their pattern will help you in your selection of lure and the way it is presented. Always keep this in mind: trout are looking for patterns.
An interesting pattern is their association of food with brown things thrown at them by humans. This is why freshly stocked trout do not shy away from humans the way wild trout do. This is also why sometimes freshly stocked trout can easily be caught by casting a dropshot plastic worm at a school of trout. The dropshot artificial worm gives the presentation the trout associate with food (a human casting food at them), combined with the instinctual trigger of a fleeing bait. Fish, like many other animals, have an instinctual trigger to chase down something that is fleeing. Casting a dropshotted three inch plastic worm can work insanely well for catching freshly stocked trout. I have even caught stocked trout by quickly jigging back a slip sinker rigged PowerBait worm.
Stocked brown trout & brook trout
Patterns can also work against you. For example, even though a worm is brown and is generally considered food, a freshly stocked rainbow trout will sometimes not recognize it as food, probably because it isn’t splashing down. It takes time for them to figure it out.
This isn’t true for stocked brown trout and brook trout. Brown trout & brook trout respond better to the instinctual trigger of a fleeing bait that is presented by an inline spinner, minow shaped lure or a casting spoon. Brown trout also more readily associate a worm with food than a stocked rainbow trout. A meal worm or a hook laden with squirming little worms will trigger an enthusiastic lunge from a brown trout or a brook trout. On the other hand, brown trout and brook trout aren’t easily caught with artificial worms or trout dough. If trout dough or artificial worms stop working, switch out to lures with a fleeing bait action, especially if all those around you that are using dough and artificial worms suddenly stop catching.
Freshly planted trout
Notice how I keep repeating the phrase, freshly planted? When you read that phrase, please take it to mean that what I’m writing doesn’t necessarily hold true for trout that have been planted a month or more previously. A rainbow trout that has been in the lake or river for a few weeks will respond to real food like a worm.
How stocked trout behave
Freshly stocked trout tend to swim in schools. If you are at a stocked reservoir, pond or river and see schools of trout swimming by, odds are that the lake has recently been recently stocked. Schooling is a behavior that comes from habit. Trout are raised in long oval shaped pools about two feet high. There is an artificial current in it and they tend to swim in circles, often counter clockwise. There is also netting above their pools to prevent birds of prey from swooping down on them.
The above is important information to know. It explains the behavior of trout after they’re planted. Stocked trout tend to keep close to shore, perhaps seeking the comfort of the edge they had been used to from being in the pool. They also tend to prefer swimming about eighteen inches from the surface or eighteen inches from the bottom. This means that if you are going to float a fishing fly or other bait under a bobber, rigging the lure about eighteen inches below the bobber is a good start. This is true when the temperature of the water is optimal. When it starts to get warmer or time passes, trout tend to hover about eighteen inches to two feet above the bottom of the lake, often just a short cast from shore. If you’re fishing a sliding slip sinker rig and are not sure at what depth the trout are holding at, start at twelve inches for one pole and eighteen inches for another pole. Then gradually increase the length up to about two feet.
The thing about trout swimming counter clockwise is also important, particularly to anglers who are trolling bait. If you want to trigger an instinctual chase response, try circling your boat or kayak in a counter clockwise direction, that way your lure will pass them from behind. If you are drifting bait with a current, particularly in a river, then the natural movement is casting upstream and allowing the bait to float and tumble downstream to where the stocked fish are holding.
How stocked trout behave after time has passed
After time has passed, rainbow trout begin to regain instinctual behavior such as shyness, staying close to the bottom, feeding on insects and relating to structure. Examples of structures that fish seek are steep drops from shallow to deep, boulders, underwater trees, underwater currents, breaks in currents that create an area of calm water, shade etc. After time has passed, a rainbow trout will be able to be caught with lures with lively action and live bait. Stocked brook trout and brown trout consistently respond to movement, the action of a lure, as well as to the size.
What flies to use when fishing for stocked trout
For fly fishing, flies such as the Cove Pheasant Tail, brown Wooly Bugger, natural colored Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear fly, AP (All Purpose) Emerger and other similar nymph type flies will take trout. I think it’s because, combined with the way they are presented in stillwater (i.e. lakes and ponds) they resemble the general profile of trout food. Both the Cove Pheasant Tail fishing fly and the AP Emerger are well regarded flies for stillwater, with the Cove having been created specifically for stocked trout in reservoirs. In my opinion it’s no coincidence they resemble in color, size and presentation the general profile of trout pellets splashing down, particularly when two or three flies are tied in tandem.
What stickbait lures to use to catch stocked trout
Minnow shaped lures from two inches to just over three inches work well for catching stocked brook trout, rainbow trout, and brown trout. Two to two and a half inches is the general sweet spot. Color is generally important insofar as a calling attention to itself. There are situations when bright colors might spook fish, such as in clear water, but in general colors such as firetiger, white, pink, transluscent pink, gold and transluscent gold will all work well. If I had to pick just two minnow shaped lures, a two and half inch lure in firetiger and transluscent pink would be my choice for stocked trout. But really it’s the action, the depth, and the speed that catches the fish. The lure color mostly serves just to catch the trouts attention. Rapala and Mirashads by Owner work well trolled in reservoir lakes. Rapala minnow shaped lures and DynamicLures HD Trout work well in rivers and brooks. These aren’t the only good brands. There are many. Those are just two of my favorites, one well known and the other better known in Colorado than elsewhere.
Spoons work great on stillwater
The Thomas Buoyant in gold is a popular color, particularly for brown trout. Kastmasters and Johnson Splinter spoons in the 1/4 ounce size work well too. Gold is a good color to use when the sun is out. Not so good when the skies are overcast because there is no sunshine to create a fish attracting flash. In overcast weather and less then crystal clear water switch to a brighter flourescent color such as Firetiger. The only reservation I have with the Kastmasters is that I (and many other anglers) have experienced lost fish due to fish shaking off. This happens often with Kastmasters and if you don’t believe me search your favorite fishing forum and see how many anglers complain about this problem. I prefer to switch the treble hooks out for something reliable like an Owner Stinger 36 treble hook (ST-36BC). There are many other high quality hooks, so don’t obsess about it. The important thing is to not get the extra strong type hooks because they are thicker and this could lead to a more difficult hook set. The thinner the diameter of the hook, the easier it cuts.
Inline spinners work well in moving water. They work in stillwater too. The way they work is through the vibrations sent out by the spinning blade. It’s felt by the fish’s lateral line, a line down the middle of their sides that they use to locate prey. Examples of inline spinners are the Panther Martin lures, Mepps, Blue Fox, and the Rooster Tail. The first three feature a kind of blade that spins nicely on slow retrieves, which will allow you to get down close to the bottom where the trout are often holding. The shape of the Rooster Tail blade makes it ideal for burning it back to shore, i.e. reeling it in quickly to work the top part of the water column, for fish that are holding eighteen inches from the top. In fact, the Rooster Tail blade doesn’t spin as well if you reel it in slowly. Don’t obsess on colors. Gold blade, nickel blade, copper blade, firetiger/fluourescent colored blades, and black blades all work well. The body can be pretty much anything. I know many anglers swear by certain colors and I agree that for different water conditions the color may be more visible. When I choose to use an inline spinner, I usually choose it by the blade color. That’s just me. But you’ll save a lot of money and spend more time fishing if you avoid obsessing over colors.
What color PowerBait Dough?
There are many colors to choose from. Just keep in mind that White is a color that can be seen regardless of depth, regardless of how sunny or overcast the weather and without regard to whether the water is clear or murky. if you can only choose one color, white is the best color to choose because of how visible it is- and getting your bait noticed is one of the important keys to catching fish with dough since dough does not have fish attracting action. Other colors can be useful too, such as fluorescents for overcast days and pretty much anything for clear water. Perhaps just as important as color is how light your hook is (will it float when smeared in trout dough?), making sure your bait ball isn’t too big, floating it at the right depth and casting it not too far from shore (although sometimes a long cast is necessary). These are rigged using a slip sinker rig.
PowerBait Mice Tails
These are worm shaped rubbery lures that have a round “head” in a contrasting color. White, pink, and orange are top fish catching colors for me. Haven’t had the need to experiment with brown but that might be a good color, ha! Feel free to experiment finding your own best colors. These are also fished using a slip sinker rig. That said, anything fished with a slip sinker rig can also be rigged without a leader line and simply crimping on a split shot so that you can quickly change fishing depth. The downside of the split shot is line twist which can end up causing birds nests at your spinning reel, as well as the theoretical creation of a weak spot where the split shot is crimped, although that has not been a problem for me.
If you have any questions please email them to me or write them in the comments. I would be more than happy to write a post anwering your questions!
Have a great time catching fish!
BRIM REAPER FISHING TIPS
One of the benefits of selling the Brim Reaper is all the feedback I get from fishermen. Here are some tips that I have found and some that I have been told.
WHEN THE BREAM ARE NOT COOPERATIVE, TRY THE FOLLOWING:
- I was down at Reelfoot Lake, TN in May and fishing was slow. I could see down about 4 feet. It really helped when I added a wax worm and cast 50 feet from the boat. Obviously in clear water light line works.
Sometimes it helps to shorten the legs. I am not sure why, but sometimes they want them short.
One fellow reported that he was using the reaper and his brother was using a cricket and neither were doing much until he added a cricket to the Brim Reaper. Then the Brim Reaper with a cricket on it out caught the plain cricket two to one.
One day the fish were hitting slowly. Just nipping the bait and would not hold on. I made 6 casts into one stob and had 6 snibs. No fish so I shortened the legs and dunked it in fish formula (Crappie flavored) I then made 9 straight casts at the same stob and had 9 consecutive bream.
Another fisherman reported the same problem, which he solved by putting on a red lead-head.
Try casting the Reaper with a # 00 L-Shaped spinner in either gold or silver. This can be Deadly. Add a split shot when needed, I do. I tend to use this more often in very clear water.
The Reaper might last even longer if it does not get hot. Take it into the house when you are through rather than leave it in the car. Keep it out of the sunlight, it will last longer.
I have even used the Brim Reaper with a touch of trout dough bait and caught bluegill, crappie, and trout.
CRAPPIE AND THE BRIM REAPER
- BIG Crappie!!!! More and more fishermen are finding out every day that this bait can be Deadly on Big Slab Crappie. This summer when it was hot, the good Crappie sometimes moved into real shallow water in heavy cover in the river sloughs. Try the Brim Reaper, some people prefer to change the lead-head to one with a # 6 hook instead of the standard #8. Some people prefer a plain lead-head or painted. Depending on the water, you might want to us the Reaper with the chartreuse legs. I went out one day and did better with the chartreuse legs on both Brim and Crappie. The water was pretty dingy.
IF YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO PASS ALONG, JUST SEND THEM AND I WILL DO IT.
Remember how awesome the fishing was last month? Crappies were spawning, bunched in the shallows thicker than fleas on a hound. You were catching slabs off stake beds and brushpiles in every bay, cove, and flat. Then suddenly, just like somebody pulled the plug, it was over. Now you’re figuring it’s time to stash the crappie tackle until next spring.
Hold on. Even though the spawning bonanza has passed, there’s still plenty of great crappie action out there if you change your tactics. After the spawn, crappies follow submerged creek channels out of reservoir tributary arms toward the main body of the lake. Although they’re unlikely to be packed together now as they were during the spawn, they’re still in predictable places and respond eagerly to live bait and lure presentations. Here’s how to find these summer hangouts.
TROLL CRANKBAITS When lake temperatures reach about 75 degrees, postspawn crappies will be scattered along the first dropoff they encounter adjacent to their bedding areas—12 to 18 feet deep is typical. These fish will be suspending now rather than holding tight to the bottom, so your best approach is to cover a lot of water by slow-trolling small crankbaits like the Bandit 100 and Bomber Model A. Target the deep ends of gravel flats, major points at tributary mouths, and creek-channel drops [figure 1]. First scan these areas with your sonar and put marker buoys along channels and ditches to chart your route. Using soft-action baitcasting rods and 8-pound abrasion-resistant line, troll between 1.5 and 2.5 mph in a lazy S pattern, alternately sweeping the open water over the channel and banging bottom on top of the drop with your lures. When a fish strikes, don’t grab the rod and set the hook—crappies aren’t called “paper-mouths” for nothing, and a hard hookset may rip out the hook. Instead, pick up the rod and just start reeling. The strike is usually sufficient to bury the hook. Don’t forget to take along a plug knocker to retrieve crankbaits that hang up in brushy cover.
PROBE CHANNEL COVER With the lake now topping 80 degrees, crappies will most often be hanging around deep creek and river channels. Look for them to be suspending near, or holding tight to, stumps, brushpiles, and flooded standing timber adjacent to channels in 20 to 30 feet of water. Mark channel drops with buoys, then probe for crappies using a Kentucky rig [figure 2]. Use cheap 30-pound mono as leaders off of the main line. The stiff, springy leaders will keep the two lures from tangling. A bow-mounted sonar with the transducer attached to the trolling motor will help you stay on target. Lower the sinker straight down into bottom cover and s-l-o-w-l-y reel it up, repeating as you progress along the channel [figure 3]. July crappies often suspend in a tower formation, and this presentation will catch fish from 30 to 10 feet deep.
DRAG OFFSHORE HUMPS Even though the lake temperature may exceed 90 degrees now, you can still catch crappies by keying on offshore humps (submerged islands). Target those no shallower than 15 feet on top, especially if they rise out of deep water near a flowing channel. Crappies gravitate to the peak of the hump to feed on baitfish when current is being generated from the upstream dam, then drop back to suspend off its deep sides once the turbines shut down.
Idle over the structure, marking it with buoys. Move to open water, let out about 40 feet of line with a Kentucky rig on the business end, and head back to the spot with your trolling motor, dragging the rig behind your boat. When you move across the hump and feel the sinker hit bottom, speed up slightly; if you haven’t felt the sinker drag for several seconds, slow down until you do.
Crappies suspending in hot water can be maddeningly slow to bite. When you spot a school on your sonar, you may have to approach it from several different directions to entice a strike. A sudden change of speed can also trigger a bite. As the rig passes near the school, either speed up your trolling motor to quicken the presentation, or kill it so the rig sinks. Find the right combination, and you can get two hookups at once.
Follow the Forecast:
Minnows fade quickly in the heat, so switch to tube baits. Look for towers of suspending fish at dropoffs down to 30 feet and probe them vertically with a Kentucky rig.
Wave action creates cloudy water perfect for ambushes, and crappies emerge from channels to prey on bait feeding on windblown plankton. Head to banks with nearby dropoffs and slowly swim a small white or chartreuse twister jig.
Under clear skies, crappies retreat from piercing UV light in brushy cover near channel drops. Fish straight down into the thick stuff with a Kentucky rig.
Before a storm, crappies school up to bird-dog wandering baitfish. Make multiple passes over channel drops until you find them on your graph, then troll crankbaits or slow- drift jigs through the school. —DON WIRTH
Drift Fishing for Crappie
Drift Fishing For Crappie: A Productive Way To Catch Some Big Crappie
Pre Spawn Crappie
|“In early spring when the water temperature reaches the mid 50s, the crappie will go into their pre spawn mode. To find crappies this time of year look for the warmest sections of the lake. Generally shallow areas on the north side of the lake in the backs of protected coves.”|
Crappie Fishing Tips
Welcome 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.
Crappie (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.
Crappie 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.
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!
John 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.)
Fred Bright caught a white crappie at Enid Dam in Mississippi, USA on July 31st 1957 that weighted 2.35 kg (5 lbs, 3 oz.)
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
Crappies by Degrees
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.
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.