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Thread: Live Bait Fishing for Larger Trout

  1. #1

    Live Bait Fishing for Larger Trout

    I started fishing for stream trout with live bait. It was worms mostly. Those first trout were ten inch brookies from the stream a half mile from the house, and before that from the hatchery truck. I later learned that wild fish were somehow more satisfying, and that wild trout, both brook trout and brown trout, werenít so easy to catch with worms. I started fly fishing for stream trout in the mid 1960ís. Some fishermen describe fly fishing as an art form. I was more practical. I learned I could catch more fish, and often larger fish, with flies than I could with live bait. I became a fly fisherman.

    Iíve moved a few times to be close to a job. I always wanted to live within driving distance of a trout stream, and six years ago I moved to a house an hour from the job and within an hour of several trout streams.

    My new home stream is a small one, as trout streams go, but it has some pools deep enough for chest waders. The stream is variable in character, sometime meandering through silty beaver meadows and sometimes running free through the woods over stones, and sometime slowing into long shaded pools. Each kind of water fishes best with different flies. The trout are all wild. The brook trout run small, but I have caught them up to 14 inches. The brown trout average larger, and some of them are good sized fish for a small stream. The bigger browns are generally in the meadows or the long pools.

    Last September I caught, or almost caught, a brown trout on live bait.

    It was a warm summer day, partly cloudy with a light breeze. I thought I could catch some fish mid-morning in the shade of a maple and oak forest. I left the car at the side of the road and walked through the woods to the stream. I know each run and pool of this stretch well, and I had the right flies in my vest.

    The first fast water run is usually good for a couple brook trout and a brown or two, up to eleven inches. I tied on one of my favorite patterns, a Red Horse Fly, and picked up a few decent trout, and missed a few more. The shallows above this run have little shelter for fish, but I caught a couple of small ones among the rocks. Then it was time to fish the first long pool.

    I waded into the tail of the pool, standing on fine sand. There were fist sized and larger rocks on the bottom in the thigh deep water upstream and to the left, and I had caught nice trout in the past when they have come up from the rocks to hit a fly. I cast the Red Horse Fly toward the rocks, and began a hand twist retrieve. A creek chub came from near the bank and grabbed my fly. I was annoyed, feeling that playing the chub may alert any trout to my presence. I pulled the chub toward me and the little fish struggled against my pull. Then a large brown came off the bottom and slashed at the chub. I instinctively pulled back, and pulled the chub away from the trout. The trout turned in the water ten feet away, now fully visible over the sand. I let the chub swim away from me and the trout slashed again. He missed the chub, or I missed him, a second time. I gave the chub a slack line, it swam out again, the trout came up and seized it crossways in his mouth, and swam a dozen feet into the pool. I stripped line off my reel to give the trout as much slack as he needed. The trout sank to the bottom and began to work the chub around so it would be head first in his mouth.

    The trout was in water about three feet deep. I could see the tail of the chub sticking out of his mouth. He worked his jaws a couple of times. When the chub disappeared I tightened my line and began to play the trout.

    I supposed that my hook was caught in the mouth of the chub, and not in the trout. The trout put up a good effort to swim against the pull of my line, I got him close to my landing net, and then he gave up his breakfast. The chub came out the way it had gone in, I was playing the chub only, and the trout sank down among the rocks where I could see him on the bottom. I reeled in the chub, a four incher. It was still alive, though pretty scratched up by the troutís teeth. I unhooked the chub and dropped it in the water, and it swam weakly downstream.

    The trout still lay over the rocks ahead of me. I quickly clipped off my small trout fly and replaced it with a Vihree, a Finnish salmon fly pattern reduced to trout fishing size, and cast it ahead of the trout. The Vihree sank to the level of the fish, and I retrieved it past his nose. This has been a good pattern for me in the past, but this trout wasnít having it just then. After I had made several casts, the trout swam forward into deeper water, out of sight.

    The trout that had taken the live bait was a nice one, a deeply colored male of about seventeen inches. It would have been a good story to have caught him, but it didnít end that way.

    This September morning might have made me reconsider live bait fishing for larger trout, but I am still a fly fisherman. In May of this year, standing in the same spot, I caught that troutís big brother, or maybe it was his dad, on a two inch long Pass Lake Bucktail, and that is another, better story.

  2. #2 supporter and plankowner
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Lawrence, KS
    Nahhhh---this story is plenty good. I could easily see myself in the same boat because I have been there. Annoyed at the chub, annoyed at myself for missing out on the bigger fish attacking the chub but finally getting one more chance---and it almost worked. If you had waited longer you would have had to harvest that particular trout---which may have been your goal. For me, you played it perfectly and that is what makes it a great story.

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