It is no secret that trout fishing has been challenging this year. It probably will be for a while longer since we are still dealing with cold water, and if it rains as much as forecasts suggest it might, we may be dealing with more high flows. This really is more of a problem than cold water since hatchery trout are not accustomed to fighting strong current.
The most basic of all trout fishing tactics has been almost lost in the never ending waves of new fishing tools and repackaged fishing tactics that are intended, more than for any other reason, to make money for fishing tackle manufacturers. Nothing wrong with that, it is just the way business survives. Regardless of anything to the contrary you may have heard or read, the number one bait fishing tactic for trout in streams remains drifting a red worm into the pools and pockets that hold trout.
Use a hook small enough to be mostly hidden by the worm. Then hook the worm by threading it through the mid-section, leaving both ends wiggling. Wiggling ends of a freshly hooked worm are a mighty temptation for trout. Even when the worm becomes limp, the ends will still waver tantalizingly in the current.
The Kastmaster, as one would expect, casts farther than most lures, even longer than most casting spoons. Yet it does not run deep when properly retrieved. Because of its shape it rises toward the surface when retrieved rather slowly. This is a combination few other lures can duplicate.
Use the Kastmaster for casting at Chapman Dam or in any of our stocked trout lakes where most other heavy casting spoons would snag on bottom, like at the boat launch and mooring area of Chapman Dam. Plain gold may be the most popular color.
Another excellent fishing tactic at Chapman Dam and other stocked trout lakes is aggressive slip bobber fishing. A slip bobber is used because it can be set at any depth, and because it casts well. Once the bait has dropped to the set depth, which is indicated when the bobber stands upright, reel it in slowly enough so the line does not slide back up through the slip bobber.
Covering a lot of water is the objective. Fan cast, them move and fan cast again, repeating this process as much as is practical.
Boat trolling is another excellent tactic in trout lakes. As with aggressive slip bobber fishing, the advantage is covering a lot of water. It might not be practical in crowded lakes, but by now there should be plenty of room to troll without bothering other anglers.
If you prefer fishing with bait, wind-drifting is a very good boat fishing method. Moving means constantly covering fresh water, going to the trout rather than waiting for them to come to you. Use a small drift sock, or something that works to the same effect, so the boat drifts perpendicular to wind direction. This way, even in a 12-foot boat two anglers should be able to drift with two rigs each.
At larger creeks where depth may be roughly consistent through a long drift, use a bobber to suspend the bait just above bottom, avoiding most snags. Other advantages to this tactic are visible sensitivity, and drift control. By watching the bobber you know what is happening at the business end of the line. You know where the bait is.
Stringing minnows tends to be very effective in cold water, especially for brook trout and brown trout. This can be done with either live minnows or salted minnows. The advantage is that the hook is positioned toward the back of the minnow so you do not have to wait for the trout to get the hook in its mouth before setting the hook. This results in more of the trout you catch being hooked in the lips, which hopefully does minimal damage to the fish should you want to release your catch.
One way to string minnows is to use a bait needle. Or, rigs which employ small wires are available. The wire is threaded through the minnow just as is done with a bait needle, then the hook is attached to the wire.
Good fishing days are coming. When fishing is really hot you do not want to catch your limit in a few minutes then go home. You want to keep fishing. But being a good sportsman you do not want to injure too many fish, which certainly would result from hooking too many with barbed hooks. The solution is barbless hooks. If you do not have barbless hooks, then simply pinch down the barbs of the hooks you are already using with needlenose pliers.