How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait will give you the best chance at getting that fish to bite. (File photo)

The odds of catching trout improve as fishermen learn more about the trout they seek, what they eat and where they live.

Learn all you can about trout while fishing to improve your success.


No question: Being outdoors is important; but being on the water is more fun when you're catching fish.

The odds of catching trout improve as fishermen learn more about the trout they seek, what the trout eat and where they live.

The more you know, the more you'll enjoy a day outdoors while catching trout.


TROUT BEHAVIOR

Sometimes, the best way to catch trout requires the fisherman to put down the rod and put on polarized sunglasses to get a closer look at what's happening beneath the water's surface. Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait will give you the best chance at getting that fish to bite:

  • Water temperature provides a clue about the amount of dissolved oxygen in the stream. Cold water contains more dissolved oxygen, invigorating the trout into feeding.
  • The current speed, combined with the water depth, reveals how far to cast upstream, so the offering sinks to the correct depth without hanging up before it gets to the feeding zone.
  • Knowing the substrate provides insight into the food items being eaten. Weeds can mean scuds. Gravel may indicate stoneflies or sculpins. Sand and mayflies go together. Fine gravel and decaying vegetation are home to caddis.

WHERE THEY LIVE

Every high-water event washes out streamside trees that, once wedged into position in the stream bed, create new hiding places for the biggest trout in the neighborhood. Anglers who approach these "lies" with a plan more often enjoy the results than a haphazard fisherman.

They take a couple of moments for observation.


  • Is the snag midstream?
  • Is it perpendicular to the current, still attached to the shore by the roots?
  • Has the current eroded the substrate around the snag, creating deep fish-holding buckets?

Solve the first problem -- casting to the lie -- by wading (or floating) into proper position. The first cast -- the most effective cast -- goes upstream, providing a downstream, tumbling route that leads your offering into the mouth of trout finning in front of the snag. Now move downstream, even with the snag, to make precise casts into the "buckets" scoured out around the snag by the current.

THE BIGGEST TROUT IN THE STREAM

It's simple: Some anglers catch more big trout because they fish where big trout live.

Fish have simple needs:

  1. a secure place to call home -- even better, if home also provides a reliable food source.
  2. protection from overhead and waterborne predators.

Overhead cover can be a thick blanket of foam, a root wad jutting from the shore, an in-stream snag, an undercut bank, an overhanging thatch of grass.

A "bucket" or a fast, deep run provides cover by refracting light. Any object that provides shade -- be it a tree, a rock or a deep canyon -- provides overhead cover. Focus on where current drives food toward or into protected lies.

For example, the current always runs fastest on an outside bend of a stream or river, acting like a conveyor belt full of food to fish hiding in the resulting undercut bank or deep trough.

All these factors are the major influences upon fishing success, but innovative trout tackle manufacturers produce new gear every year, aimed at making your ability to present the next best lure or fly easier and more practical in hopes you will find trout fishing more fulfilling day after day, year after year.

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