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Catching Trout: Lake Fishing Strategies

The spring weather starts to heat up for trout fishing in most lakes. The water starts to get warmer, and more marine life starts to move along the shorelines. Most lakes around the cities are stocked with trout, and this article will take a look at different ways and techniques to help get more trout hookups with spin casting gear from the shoreline and fishing docks.

First, you need to have a trout fishing rod setup. Any 7′ medium power, medium action rod with a spinning reel loaded with 15-lb braided or 10-lb mono line is fine; that’s a very versatile rod setup for many types of fishing, including river fishing for coho and pink salmon. Have some 8-lb mono line for leader, some thread-through and split- shot weights, some small floats (from stick floats to 20g floats), and different sized egg/worm-style hooks (from size 4 to 10).

Image Credit: © Island Fisherman Magazine

Spin Casting For Trout

Spin casting lures is an active way to look for and catch trout. Spinners, spoons, plugs, and twisty grub tails are the typical lures of choice. When spin casting lures, you are trying to search for fish and entice them to strike out of curiosity, aggression, or the need to feed. You want to cover as much shoreline as possible when spin casting—you are basically hunting for trout. Look for underwater structures and tree cover areas with drop offs close to the shoreline. Cast your lure out as far as possible and let it sink for a bit. Then reel it in using a variety of techniques. You can reel it in slow and pause, or just reel it in slow and steady for spoons. You want to feel the spoon wobble its way back to you.

Deadly Dick

Quite often, the trout will strike on the pause. You can reel it in at a medium speed with spinners, twisty grub tails, and plugs. It is hard to cast some small spinners, twisty grub tails, or plugs, so the best way to fish these is with some weight attached to your mainline. An effective setup is to use a 1⁄4-oz to 1⁄2-oz weight (thread-through or split shots) then a swivel to 3 feet of 8-lb leader to your lure. Cast the lure as far as possible, and let it sink for a bit. Reel it in fast enough that you feel the spinner blade start to give you some resistance. With a plug, reel it in fast enough you feel it wobble erratically. That will be the same speed for the twisty grub tail on a size 8 hook. Pause the retrieve once in a while, and feel that strike!

April Davidson’s cutthroat trout from Great Central Lake 2020

Float Fishing For Trout

You can also float fish with bait or flies, and common baits include shrimp, ghost shrimp, cured single eggs, corn, live worm, live leech, and soft plastic eggs. The typical setup will be a 10g to 20g float, thread-through weight to balance the float, swivel, 3 feet of 8-lb leader, and size 4 to 10 hook. Adjust the float to have the hook 5′ off the bottom or
7′ below the surface of the water. Bait the hook so that just the hook point is sticking out. Trout normally nibble at the bait before they grab it and run. Wait for that float to just barely dip down, and set that hook fast. When fishing with live worm and leech, you want to use a worm hook or an O’Shaughnessy hook, which will allow you get more of that worm or leech on to the hook, then leave a bit of the tail to wiggle. That wiggling triggers an aggressive bite. Your float will sink very fast, and they won’t nibble on your bait.

Flies For Trout

You can fish with flies by using the same setup as you would for fishing with bait. Common flies for fishing trout in lakes include chironomids, nymphs, and worms. Choose a chironomid color that matches the bottom of the lake or the shoreline, and select a size between 10 and 18. Start small and work your way up until you find the size that attracts the fish. My go-to flies are pheasant tail and prince nymphs, number 8 to 14. Worms can be any kind that matches the surrounding of the lake, and you should use the same size hooks as for nymphs. When in doubt, use a pink worm—they always seem to work. Fish these flies above structures or just couple feet off the bottom of the lake. It will be a fast takedown on the float, so be fast on the hook set.

Rachel Eyre’s brown trout on the Cowichan

Bottom Fishing For Trout

You can also bottom fish for trout. Use the same setup as float fishing, but without the float. The thread-through weight is the key to help catch more trout. If the trout feels resistance while nibbling the bait, they will let go of the bait and leave. With a bottom fishing setup, you want to use bait that floats off the bottom, like PowerBait dough, eggs, small marshmallows, or worms/leeches. Cover the egg-style hook with enough PowerBait dough or eggs that the hook will float in the water. Use a single small marshmallow on the hook and leave the hook point slightly exposed. Bait your hook with a worm and inject air into the worm to make it float or use a small marshmallow then add a worm/leech on the hook. Cast your bait out as far as possible. Let the weight sink it to the bottom, then slowly reel up the slack line until you feel a little bit of tension on the line. Set your rod on a rod stand, or hold the rod and wait for the bite. Typically the trout will nibble first before it grabs and runs. Wait for that solid tug before setting the hook.

This article appeared in Island Fisherman magazine. Never miss an issue—subscribe today!


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