Trout season is finally upon us

April 15, 2017

It seems the cold, blustery and mostly rainy days have gone and we are finally having some decent weather.

Along with that, trout season in Western Pennsylvania has begun.

Let’s hear a cheer!

Most local waters are a bit high and most trout brought to the net have fallen victim to the lowly worm.

I have never totally understood why the No. 1 bait for most fishing is a worm. Worms are not a natural food for any fish. This is because worms don’t live in the water.

Think about that. Earthworms are a creature that has no brain and lives under ground. They end up in streams only when the banks crumble a bit from high water.

Still, most fish, including trout, find them particularly enticing.

Cast a rig baited with a nice healthy worm upstream and allow it to drift naturally into a deep hole. If there is a trout present, there is a good chance it will strike the bait.

The difficult part is allowing the bait to pass close to the hiding spot of the fish. My late brother-in-law once told me to try drifting the worm in one spot. If you get no response, just move a few steps and offer the same bait and you might get a hit.

It seems those couple of steps create a different drift of the bait. Of course, he was right.

Much the same can be said about the speed of the drift. A fish living in a stream doesn’t survive if it spends more energy chasing food than the calories it gains when it catches up with it.

Speed of drift can be controlled by the amount of weight placed above the hook. One split shot placed correctly can make a big difference.

Many times, an angler will find the fish are line shy. This is particularly true when pressure has been high and the water is clear.

Also, the lighter line will cast better.

My favorite line weight for trout fishing is four pounds. Anything heavier is a bit much for a fish that is weighed in ounces.

I’ve also found that two-pound line weakens after a few hours of use. This is brought about by rough guides and bouncing off rocks in the stream bed.

If the angler decides to try two-pound line, it should be changed frequently. When conditions are such that light line is necessary, you also have to be careful not to be seen.

Remember, if you can see the fish it probably can see you. I don’t like to fish for trout in a clear stream wearing bright clothing. Fish are not color blind.

We all get locked into a certain bait or lure and a certain way of fishing. When you toss cast after cast to no avail, try something different.

Use a lure you have never tried or move to a different bait. Instead of an earthworm, try a maggot or wax worm.

I have never done well using a mealworm for bait but they are hardy and survive for many fishing trips.

Minnows can be a great bait, but when stream fishing, keeping them alive can be a pain.

PowerBait has replaced the use of salmon eggs and does work at times. But you should carry a variety of colors.

I am hardly the expert but there are a few other things that I find useful to have with me. Beside some No. 8 hooks and a small split shot, I carry hemostats to remove those small hooks from mouth of the fish. A leatherman tool is useful for many things and helps when attaching a split shot to the line.

Finger nail clippers make fine line cutters. Those inexpensive eye glasses, known as cheaters, that magnify are a help when retying a hook or a lure to the line. This is especially true when the person is older or the light is not good.

Polarized glasses help the angler see the fish and cut reflection from the water.

I am sure there are other things that make the fishing trip more enjoyable but those are a few I have with me when spending a day along a local stream.

Like the Boy Scouts say, be prepared.

George H. Block writes a Sunday Outdoors column for the Observer-Reporter.

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