Variety the spice of life, and of trout fishing, too
Rare – like Bigfoot rare -- is the angler who has just one type of lure or one size hook in his tackle box.
They probably don’t exist.
Variety, that’s what every fisherman or woman wants.
So why not with our trout, too?
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks four types of trout each spring. They’re browns, rainbows, brooks and goldens, commonly called palominos.
A special season is one in which you catch at least one of each species.
It’s possible. But you’ve got to plan your fishing for a chance to make it happen.
The Fish and Boat Commission will stock 3.2 million trout overall. Just 8,500 or so – one quarter of 1 percent – will be goldens.
All will be released prior to opening day.
So if your goal is to reel in one of these highly visible fish – “tracer rounds,” one angler has called them – make that priority 1 and get out early. The longer you wait to hit the water, the fewer goldens will be around.
Priority two should be to get a brook trout.
They’re stocked in bigger numbers than are goldens. But the commission doesn’t release as many of them as rainbows or browns, which, in that order, account for most of the fish released.
Brookies are the most eager biters, too, so they tend not to last.
The Fish and Boat Commission lists not only the water it stocks, but the type of trout released into each water.
At least when it comes to brooks, browns and rainbows.
Brookies tend to go in smaller streams and rainbows into lakes. Browns get mixed in almost everywhere.
Paying attention to the list can put you on the right track for the type of trout you’re pursuing.
A few goldens go into most waters, so that’s more of a crapshoot. But calling the commission office closest to where you’ll be fishing can offer some clues as to which are best bets.
Run silent, run deep. Or, well, at least deep.
In general, especially when stream fishing, it pays to get your bait or lure down near the bottom. That’s where most trout are hanging out, especially hatchery trout that were, just days or weeks earlier, in a concrete raceway.
Beyond that, think about what kind of trout you’re after.
Two or three maggots or a couple of wax worms on a size 10 or 12 hook attached for 4-pound test line works well for all trout.
Rainbows often hit best on Powerbait and salmon eggs, though.
For brown trout, think minnows or other live bait or slow-moving lures, like a rooster tail or Joe’s fly. Browns are notoriously finicky, so a bait that takes its time going past their nose is often key to tempting a strike.
Brookies, especially in small streams, like minnows presented on light line and smaller hooks.
And if you’re a fly angler, muddler minnows and wooly buggers in sizes 8 and 10 and hare's ear and pheasant tails nymphs in sizes 12, 14 and 16 are consistent all-around producers. Stoneflies can be good on sunny days in sizes 10 and 12.