The purest form of fishing for rainbow trout is considered using a dry fly on fly fishing gear. However, many state fisheries agencies manage rainbows as a “put-and-take” fishery, meaning they are stocked by the thousands periodically on certain streams and rivers.
Based on their abundance under this management approach, rainbow trout provide an excellent new fishing opportunity for novice anglers wanting an introduction to cold-water angling without the confusion associated with fly fishing for the species.
A simple spinning outfit and assortment of in-line spinners or prepared bait rigged on a small hook weighted with split shot will get you started. Then, you can advance to the more challenging and perhaps rewarding world of fly fishing for rainbows.
Call Ahead For Tail Water Rainbows
Managed rainbow trout fisheries are popular below hydroelectric dams because of their relatively constant current. It is wise to call ahead to check generation times to avoid being left high and dry, or with little water at all, on a trip to these fluctuating fisheries. Most dam operators such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintain automated phone systems with scheduled times and flow rates of their projects.
Use Low Impact Dressings
Generally speaking, “low impact” dressings, such as the variants and spider-type, or sparsely dressed winged patterns which drop to the surface without creating a disturbance are most effective for wary brown trout.
Brown trout are acknowledged as the most difficult trout to take on a fly. It is pre-eminently a quarry of the experienced angler who seeks the species with dry flies. Owing to the fact that brown trout commonly feed in the relatively quiet pools and runs of clear rivers and are inherently cautious, the fly angler must be skilful and gain an understanding of the trout before he can catch the brown with any consistency.
On visible rises, the dry fly is presented to the fish, which may of course take fright at once and rush off to its shelter; short of this the trout may drop slowly downstream to inspect a drifting fly before quietly going away. Or it may just sink to the bottom and cease feeding. However, if the trout ignores the fly and makes no movement away from it, or makes some movement toward it, the fish is a worthwhile target. Sometimes a change of pattern but more often a change of size will encourage the brown to take the floater in a confident rise.
Splice On a Shock Leader for Speckled Trout
A speck has two or three “fangs” in the roof of A its mouth. Those sharp teeth can cut through light line if the hook or lure is taken deeply. If you spool on light line-say, 8-pound-test-to make the fishing more challenging, use a foot long “shock leader.” With a barrel knot or swivel, splice a leader of 30-pound-test line to the light line. Don’t worry about the heavy line spooking the fish; speckled trout aren’t leader shy.
Fish Deep Holes for Cold-Weather Specks
Normally denizens of shallow flats, speckled trout (spotted sea trout) head for deeper water when the weather turns cold. Drop bait in still, deep water that is out of the wind–channels, sloughs, dredge cuts, boat basins, and depressions in bay bottoms. Locate such holes on a depth contour map, or ask directions from locals.
Speck fishing is particularly good in deep holes during a prolonged cold spell. Then, the ganged-up trout grow progressively hungrier, and food competition among the fish is fierce. Use medium-size live shrimp, fine line, thin shanked hooks, and a small sinker.