Good advice on trout fishing is available if you know how to find it?
Nice brook trout.
Fishing advice? Everybody’s got some. But before the April 18 trout opener, you’ve got to figure out which advice is spot on and which is, well, not so much.
That’s not always easy. If you’re new to trout fishing, all advice can sound equally plausible and daunting. If you’re a veteran trout angler, it can be hard to value tips that run counter to what you’ve been doing for most of your life.
“How do you know who to trust?” said Ed Vaccari, who’s been sharing advice for 52 years at Tackle Unlimited in Jefferson Hills. “If you haven’t known the guy for a long time, it’s easy to go wrong, especially with fishing tips.”
Brand names can matter; good equipment is expensive for a reason. But when a salesperson seems to be pushing a pricey brand, or you feel pressured to spend more, walk away -- you’re not getting good advice. Whenever the “mentor” says you need to take a giant leap in skill level, say goodbye. Whatever your price range, whatever your skill level, the best advice is to start with what you know and take small steps toward becoming a better angler.
Of course, tips only work when you do them right. If someone recommends that you fish deeper in the water column, don’t tie on a half-ounce casting sinker and plunk it straight to the bottom -- pinch on heavier split shot and slow your retrieve. When someone suggests you’ll have better line control by false casting vertically instead of that sloppy limp-wrist whip thing you’ve been doing since you were a kid, don’t scoff -- go out in the backyard and experiment. If somebody tells you to pitch your Walmart Ugly Stick and invest in an $800 Sage Circa fly rod, tell him you’ll get there on your own ... eventually.
Fortunately, there are a lot of talented trout anglers around offering good advice. Just about anyone who cares enough about fishing to join a fishing club is almost certainly doing something right -- stop in at a meeting. Decades of practical angling experience can be found behind the counter at bait stores and fly shops. Many outdoors outfitters carry multiple brands of just about everything in a range of prices, and some put experienced, helpful anglers on the sales floor. Solid fishing tips can come from expert speakers at club meetings as well as in-store clinics and demonstrations.
As you begin sorting through your opening day check list, here’s some trout fishing advice worth taking.
“One of the biggest mistakes I see bait fishermen make is using too big hooks and too big weights,” said Jason Sweeney of the Field & Stream sporting shops. “That’s a very crucial mistake.”
Today, Field & Stream stores in Cranberry and Washington will hold a Fishing Kickoff Event including conservation groups, a bait casting clinic, reel maintenance class, fly fishing instruction, lure selection and trout tips and techniques.
“It isn’t like bass fishing where a bigger fish will take bigger bait. These are mostly stocked trout. They put in some big trophy fish, but using bigger hooks won’t help you to catch them,” Sweeney said. “With trout, medium and small hooks and weights are your best bet. The best advice I can give to a beginner: with trout, less is more.”
Right place, right time and you set the hook just right. Too bad you tied the knot wrong.
“Too often, they don’t lubricate the knot,” said L.L. Bean fishing instructor Bill Nagle. “It weakens the line.”
Nagle will be at North Park Lake 12:30-3:30 p.m. April 12 and April 26 teaching an Introduction to Fly Casting class ($69, details and registration at 888-552-3261). Includes the overhead cast, false cast and roll cast, stripping and shooting line, and tying basic knots.
“It’s a simple thing, but people forget. If you don’t lubricate the monofilament with saliva or water, when you cinch up the line it creates a great deal of friction heat. If you’re tying a 6X tippet onto a hook and don’t lubricate it right, it could drive the line strength down to 7X.”
Did the line break because the fish was a monster or you botched the knot?
“If the end of the line is like a pig’s tail, curly looking,” said Nagle, “that’s an indication that you didn’t tie the knot right.“
In the hatchery, trout are fed food pellets a little smaller than a dime. Not long after they’re stocked they begin eating natural foods. Masters of energy conservation, trout feed mostly on bottom nymphs. But what’s the most popular trout bait?
”Every [bait fisherman] carries worms whether they use them or not,“ said Ed Vaccari at Tackle Unlimited. ”But the best bait is for trout in my experience is butter worms.“
The larval stage of a South American moth, butter worms don’t like water. They twist and turn when submerged.
”Also, it's a real hardy bait,“ said Vaccari. ”You can catch two or three trout off one bait without it coming off.“