As the weeks fly by racing toward the end of the year, it seems like I am trying to cram in too many projects and meet a lot of deadlines and obligations at a time when we all should be trying to relax a little. Such is life in the modern world.
I’ve been out on the water fairly consistently every week, but doing more fishing than actual catching. The changes in the weather and the cool-down on the water can have different effects on the bite, sometimes good, sometimes not so good.
Trout are probably the main target in the foothills right now. Although the quantity of catches may be down, the quality has been very good, with a lot of fish in the 3-pound range. As the water temps get down into the low 60s or high 50s, the fish will be fairly active and up on the surface chasing lures.
Once the water temperature drops into the low 50s, the fish will get more lethargic and it’s time to slow down the presentation. Recent rains have also stained the water on some lakes, meaning action is probably more important than flashy colors.
Take all these conditions into consideration when heading out and have a lot of different offerings onboard. It’s important to switch things up if there has been no action after a couple of passes.
A fish finder is pretty useless at spotting fish on the surface, so keep an eye out for them busting up on the surface. Often, there will be a two-hour bite window where the action will turn on and seeing fish feeding on the surface can be a good indication of an active bite.
For me, the best weapons on the business end of the line for fast trolling have always been Rapalas or other minnow-type lures, such as Cultivas or Daiwa DR minnows. Be sure to check the hooks regularly for bends or breakage; some of the stock hooks these companies use are weak.
Spoons such as Humdingers, Needlefish, Speedy Shiners, etc, are also effective when trolled at higher speeds, up to 3 mph. Slow trolling requires something to create more action, such as a hootchie paired with a sling blade dodger.
A Berkeley grub on a thin wire hook is very good on some lakes around here, such as Camanche. Of course, there is the old standby; a threaded nightcrawler behind a dodger at 1.5 mph. In all cases of trolling, make sure to have a swivel on the line to avoid line twist.
Another consideration is the amount of fishing pressure on the lake. If trout have been getting hammered by boaters pulling everything imaginable past them, they may tend to get spooked. On a recent trip at Collins Lake I counted 10 boats in a very small area, some bassing and others trolling.
This will really make for a tough day. Back off and try somewhere else.
In the early morning, the fish are close to shore looking for food so don’t be afraid to get right up in the shallows. Later in the day they will move out to open water.