How to Catch Trout

How to Catch Trout

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  1. A trout’s brain is roughly the size of a fingernail; not the nail of some dragon lady who grows them five inches long just to scare children (have you noticed that such women are usually secretaries or receptionists, which begs the question: How do they type with stiletto blades protruding from all of their fingers?), but your average fingernail on the hand of a nervous-Nelly who fretfully bites them to little nubs. So if trout have such puny brains, why are they so hard to catch?

    I have it on hot authority that pollywogs and minnows tip off the trout in the hopes that they won’t be eaten, but that might have been a rumor. The guy who told me that had an anxious twitch and winced every time I used the word, “regurgitate”, which I did often as I had had some bad shrimp for dinner the night before.

    Some fishermen who use casting reels swear by spoons, jigs and other lures with which they have had some success; others who prefer fly rods swear by furry little wannabe bugs, and yet others who use spinning reels swear by worms, grubs and salmon roe. Whenever I try any of these methods, I certainly do a lot of swearing, but at my bait of choice.


     Before I move on, let me expound a bit on my least-liked anglers: fly fishermen. Devotees of fly-fishing remind me of waiters in French restaurants: they think they know everything, they look down their noses at those who disagree with them and they smell like cheese. Okay, I made up the cheese part; that applies more to my style of fishing, but I still can’t stand dedicated fly-fishermen who think that angling is an art rather than a way of putting dinner on the table. You see them everywhere these days; taking up twenty times more space than other fisherman do because if you stand too close you’re apt to wind up with an imitation fly hooked into your neck, which is one of my least favorite fashion statements. They tolerate bate-casters who jig lures, but they have utter contempt for those who cast-and-wait. More than once, one of these snobs has sneered at me and called me lazy. They were right, of course, but I still didn’t like hearing it from someone who valued style and form more than results. My reward on those occasions was that they left empty-handed while I went home with at least one nice fat trout for dinner.


     What’s my secret? In a word: Power Bait. Okay, those are two words, but why argue semantics when it’s results that matter?

    Power Bait comes in a variety of colors, but I’ve had the best results while fishing in lakes with the red bait. It’s simple, easy and effective.


     First, thread a #10 gold hook onto your line and then wrap it in enough Power Bait to conceal the hook. I prefer to use my ultra-light Ugly Stick rod with two-pound test, because when I hook into an eight-inch trout it feels like I’m fighting a whale. Use a flexible rod with good action.


     Add a clip-on lead sinker or Split Shot about two feet up the line and cast it out. Power Bait floats, so as long as you have enough weight on your sinker—and it doesn’t take much—it will hover two feet above the bottom of the lake. Set your drag properly, prop your pole on a stick, and reel in the slack until your line is taut. Let the bait sit for at least fifteen minutes before reeling it in to check its status, and keep an eye on the tip of your pole. You’ll see the tip dip sharply when you get a strike. When you do, pick up your rod—but do not pull on it and move your bait!  Wait for the second or third strike, and when you feel a continuous tug on the line, give the rod an upward jerk to set the hook (not too hard; you don’t want to rip the hook out of the trout’s mouth; the drag should release some line when you set the hook). Tighten your drag a bit if necessary and reel in your prize.

    If you don’t get any strikes, adjust the depth of your bait; more line between the sinker and the bait will make it float closer to the surface. Trout feed at varying depths throughout the day. In the summertime, they tend to stay deep, in the cooler water; all year around, they will come up shallow only when the water is cool at the surface, especially mornings and in the evening, when they gorge on insects stupid enough to try landing on the lake.

    Once you’ve caught all the trout you need, be sure to walk past as many fly fishermen as you can find dangling your catch and tell them how you caught them. If you’re like me, the bitter, disdainful yet envious expressions you’ll see will be more rewarding than the fish you caught.

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