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Trout Fishing In The West - A Natives Inside Scoop-Part 4
Lures, Baits, and Rigs
This is part 4 of my western trout fishing series. In this article I plan to discuss baits and rigs I have either used or have seen used. I always recommend the old stand by's but, I also urge creative ideas as long as they fit into the fishing regulations. My personal approach to bait and rig is traditional for the most part and semi-purist but, I don't look down on fishermen that use engineered baits....well not too harshly anyway. I will also throw in a couple of stories that are related, I hope you enjoy.
I want to go into lures and baits in this segment and really hope people comment about some special baits they use. When I kicked off my fishing life at the ripe old age of four it was all about the worm, oh and an early bird but, I have never hooked up an early bird and caught anything. Worms have a lot of appeal and they work, but I also have had days where the ole worm let me down. Worms are definitely a natural food for the fish, but I think they are instinctual about when they are really interested in worms.
I always buy a tub of worms or dig some up right after a rain storm and generally have pretty good luck. I just thought about it after a poor fishing day where I could not get the fish to hit on worms at all, but I was able to get some action on lures so I knew they were there. I figured that rain draws the worms out and the run off washes a lot into the water, so I really only work worms in the river after a rain but I will use them in a lake at anytime.
I am a semi-purist about fishing and do not use engineered scented baits but, that's just me. For me, if you are trying to catch your limit to feed your family then you should definitely be using something like Powerbaits. If you are in it for sport and maybe some food, I think you should at least fish lures, flies, or worms for the bulk of the day and save the power bait to get you some quick fish at the end. I mean a fish can't resist a concentrated scent in the water and it amounts to chumming to me, I don't see any sport in that. I hear that the powerbait eggs really work well and that is about all I can recommend. My first recommendation is to catch a trout on an artificial lure or fly and see if you are more satisfied with your catch.
Artificial lures are really anything that you can use to catch a fish that is not actually food. I have heard a lot of stories about lures and homemade items that people have had luck with like can tops, sticks tied into a shape, pieces of tape, and rocks. The only one of those I have actually seen was the can pop tab, but it didn't work very well.
I had a fishing day with my youngest daughter years ago when she was my tomboy, before she became a teen and turned girlie girl. I had been beating the water all day and she was shadowing me along the shore. I would look to keep an eye on her and she looked like a spider climbing over all the big rocks with an occasional tarzan or jane jump into the slow pools, just having a ball. I had been through every lure in my tackle twice and the bite just wasn't there so I decided to head to shore and eat lunch with my daughter. We kicked back on some rocks close to the shore and she ate a bit and went back to playing around with nature, I kept working on my sandwhich.
She went back to wading and looking for little creatures to check out and I kept my eye on her. She was gathering some leaves and then started sorting through them with a neutral but cheery smile on her face. I became curious when she chose one specific leaf like it was the perfect one for some purpose. At this moment she is looking around for something while holding this leaf like a spoon for scooping something. She zeros in on something and she starts to gently coax some insect onto her spoon.
I start to lose interest as she is only playing with a bug, but as I am about to look away she advances toward the water ever so gently and steadily. I refocused on what will happen next as I watched her set this leaf with it's ant for the single shipboard crew gently on to the water and release it. About the time I was thinking it must be nice to be young a big fat trout gulped the ant leaf and all. With my mouth agape I looked at my daughter who was slip slapping the dirt from her hands like she had just completed a hard days work. She looked right at me and laughed right in my face!
For metal lures I really am open to most all of them and believe a lot of the success with metal lures has to do with presentation, how you play them, and where you use them. I am a little partial to panther martins and have had some decent success with them. I have the best luck with metal lures in rough water and not so much in slower clear water. I really expect to catch a trout when I throw a shiny lure in the white water and I really don't care which lure it is. Something flashing and bouncing through the white water will trigger a flash bite reflex in trout. I have nailed plenty of nice trout this way.
When I fish clear and moderate current water I tend to use spinners and have had very good luck with small gold panthers. I think they may represent a bee to the fish, I guess, but they work sometimes. I tend to throw them upstream and crank them very fast in an effort to get that quick reaction bite and not give the fish much time to examine the bait. I will throw a spinner above a rock and drag it to a position so that it will ride the current to the lower side of the rock and then start cranking it fast, this method draws out fish.
I really don't fish very well with worms and generally hook them on and throw them in, not my favorite way to fish at all. I was taught some techniques that I should use but don't, like inflating the worm. Fishermen that are good with worms will use a worm inflator (syringe) to inject just the right amount of air to get the worm rest at a specific depth in the water column. Floating a worm on the top water is also very effective when coupled with gentle twitching of the rod tip to simulate swimming or movement. I am sure there are a lot more ways to fish a worm than I know about. I break the worm in half and let the worm juice work it's magic.
Rubber and plastic bates really haven't produced fish for me at all. I have used rubber minnows and caught bass but never trout. A friend of mine uses rubber minnows all the time and has very good luck with them catching a variety of fish including trout. It comes down to how you play lures most of the time and he has it and I don't. I have watched him and tried to emulate his lure action, but I haven't got it yet. I personally have never caught a fish on a rubber worm and don't know anyone else that has either. I would be interested to hear from anyone who has regular luck on trout with rubber baits, non scented rubber baits.
I have maybe used a bobber for fishing four times in my whole life and would have no real helpful input here. They are pretty self explanatory and dangle whatever bait you're using in the water column and give you some warning when there is a strike. This kind of fishing is about as boring as watching grass grow and I do not have much patience for it, weird since patience is a prerequisite to being a fisherman.
My best friend has never been known for his patience, but he is just fine for a whole day of spin casting or fly fishing. He went out on a lake with a mutual friend for a day of trout fishing. The lake they were on is a promising trout lake and usually yields at least a couple decent trout to a fisherman per day. The plan was to troll and get some trout in the boat, but those fickle trout just were not cooperating. The boat captain wanted to go "bobber fish" closer to the shore line in an effort to get some action on the line.
This captain had not gotten the hints about my friend from the time he has known him or from some of the clues while they were trolling. The trolling portion lasted for a bit before my friends patience expired and he began getting restless. He needed some excitement out there and if you knew my friend you wouldn't be surprised when he started going goofy. Nothing bad just a little off the wall and hilarious, followed by a decision to go into slow motion and bobber fish. This decision was a poor one and my friend was able to relax for about a minute before the look of that dead drifting bobber sent him over the edge. The exact happenings on that fateful day are a bit hazy and now part of an unwritten law handed down by a small boat lake captain. He stated "I will never take your crazy @%& out on my boat ever again", this turned into a long night of joking, storytelling, and beer drinking. If only he had asked me I could have save that poor captain from the severe seafaring shock he no doubt received.
Trial And Error
Back to lures, do not be afraid to try things with lure configurations. If you think there is a chance that mixing a couple of lures together in some configuration will work, you should try it. You never know if you will come up with something really good until you try. The same friend with amazing patience was fishing with me on one occasion which made that fishing day all that much better as he has been my best friend since the crib. We were spin casting witch keeps you busy and the area we were in can yield some nice trout at anytime, much better for his psyche.
I had a pile of old beat up lures that I decided to repaint the day before and was now in the process of trying. As I worked through these oddly painted lures I hit upon one the just started working and working well. My friend worked his way over to see a nice trout that i had caught and proceeded to tell me that my lure creation was the ugliest damn thing he had ever seen and promptly named it the wombat. I can not tell you the paint configuration nor the lure specifics as it is a closely guarded secret.....well that and...... I lost it to a snag and have never been able to reproduce the amazingly ugly wombat.
I will save flies and fly fishing for another segment as there will be a lot to talk about. I hope you enjoy my fish blather at least a little and I hope you get the itch to fish, just not in my fishin hole.
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