"Powerful" Trout Bait
By: Frank Ross
Fly-fishing has its appeal, although it's not for everyone, and for some -not all the time. While there are individuals that would think it a sacrilege to catch a trout in any other fashion, I am not one of them.
A lot can be said of fly-fishing for trout, or any other species for that matter. Writers contemplating the majestic dance of the line, tended by nurturing hands that tug and weave it in rhythmic arcs over waiting waters, have written voluminous books about it. Even Hollywood has added its own interpretation of the "art form" in "A River Runs Through It" that brought a dramatic surge in popularity to this angling tradition.
Fly-fishing has its appeal, although it's not for everyone, and for some -not all the time. While there are individuals that would think it a sacrilege to catch a trout in any other fashion, I am not one of them. I have been known to flail the air with fly and foil, but when it comes to serenity, I like to sit with one or both of my two sons, relaxing while a bobber drifts with the current until it sinks under the tug of a scrappy trout.
It's a joy that's hard to compare, seeing a youngster struggling with a light weight spinning rig, sporting a grin as big as the bend in their rod. Certainly, there are few lyrical passages that could add to the excitement of "Dad, I've got one, and it's a big one, I think." Recently, I took my second son Jordan on an expedition, and it didn't take him long to come running with a nice 15" trout.
One of the best aspects of this serene pastime is its simplicity. You don't need a lot of fancy gear. A light weight spinning rig is ideal, but a cane pole, bobber, small hook and bait are all you really need. Actually, you don't even need the bobber. You can lay the bait on the bottom, using a small split shot. The smaller the better, so that the trout doesn't feel the weight until it's too late.
I like to use a slip bobber, because I don't like to get up from my appointed resting spot to untangle or retie lines that become snagged. Once you figure out the depth, adjust the slip bobber so that the bait is suspended an inch or two from the bottom. Now comes the hard part. Relax and enjoy the moment until the bobber drops below the surface, under the weight of a tasty dinner.
Bait is easy also. Your basic, garden variety of worms work well, but Powerbait is a powerful trout tantalizer. Berkley makes several different colors and scents that are easy to ball up and put onto a hook, for even the youngest angler. Their new line of Select Trout Bait has glitter as an added attractant, but Sparkle Nuggets makes it even easier. This biodegradable bait is pre-formed into just the right size, scented and glitter coated to add additional appeal.
The glitter is designed to be the size of baitfish scales, and falls off gradually to increase the distance that it will be seen. Select comes in eight different colors including Captain America, and Sparkle Nuggets is offered in platinum, gold rush, wild fire, and neon chartreuse. Not that I can't identify with the Captain America concept, but I prefer the original -mostly because I can easily vary the size of the glob that I roll and set to hook. Shrinks would probably say it's a control thing.
I've tried all of the colors and find that in certain situations one will seem to work better than the next, so I carry several. Fluorescent Orange and Rainbow are my "go to" colors. If you have a daughter that likes to fish, she'll much prefer glitter on her fingers to worm guts, but there's another advantage to Powerbait.
Unlike worms that die and add a special aroma when forgotten in a trunk, this stuff doesn't have a heartbeat. It will keep for quite a while, as long as you tighten the lid properly. The jars are small, so they don't take up much room in your tackle box, and they can easily fit into a kid's pocket to provide independent mobility up and down the bank. Youngsters like to pick their own spots, and that's part of the learning process as well.
You can tell them what conditions trout prefer, but kids will make up their own mind about where to cast based upon various whimsical influences. Telling them where to fish won't make them as happy as finding their own spot and catching "their fish," so give them some latitude. Remember, you're not there to fill a quota. Let them experiment. This often presents more "teachable moments" than setting limitations on how or where they can fish. Once you start catching fish, if they're not fairing as well, I can guarantee they'll be casting into your honey hole before you can bait your hook.
If you're not living in a state with a viable wild trout fishery, most states have stocking programs that are basically put and take, since most will not survive the warm waters in summer. Although some will survive both fishermen and the summer heat, and grow into really nice fish, they're intended to be caught and eaten. Spring is when the stocking programs kick off. Check with your local Game and Fish office for a list of stocked waters with public access. We have a handy reference that will get you started, in our State by State index.
Moving water is a key area to look for. Small streams, or water coming out of a dam's spillway are great places to start prospecting. Also, streams entering into a larger body of water create areas where trout lie in wait for bugs and other creatures to prey upon. A colorful, scented ball of Powerbait draws them like a magnet.
Use only enough to cover the barb of a small, number 10 or 12 hook, and watch for the slightest movement. If you are fishing on the bottom, without a bobber, watch your line as it lies on surface of the water. Better yet, keep the line tight and watch the tip of your rod or pole. Trout are generally delicate biters and can strip off a hook faster than you can say, "I've got a bite, he took my bait."
Some will just suck it down, and if you're not quick on the draw, you'll have a fish that is deeply hooked. A hook extractor will minimize damage, but trout are pretty delicate fish. While catch and release is an admirable ambition, if you've injured a fish and it's bleeding, put it on ice. Trout, butter and almonds make a wonderful combination, when united with just the right amount of heat. Together they make a powerfully good dinner. Hopefully, your youngster will catch enough for two.