50 Ways to Fool Spring Trout

Tips 18-33: Lakes & Ponds

Field & Stream Online Editors

**18. Fish the ice-out. **Some of the largest trout of the year are taken when there's still ice bobbing on the water. You'll find the big fish cruising the warming shallows in search of food.

19. Tow the lines. Don't leave home without an assortment of fly lines on easily changeable spools. You need a floating, weight-forward taper for fishing the surface to 5 feet; a sink tip for fishing 5- to 8-foot depths; and a full sink, high-density line for anything beyond that. On some ponds and clear backwaters where trout spook easily, a floating double-taper line will allow the most delicate presentations.

20. Catch a cruiser. In lakes and ponds, a great deal of a trout's time is spent on the move, searching for food. Always examine the water before moving in close. Think of hunting trout. Remain still, with as low a profile as possible, while you wait for fish to swim within casting range.

**21. Work the fly. **In still water, mayfly nymphs can be twitched along just beneath the surface or sunk more deeply and given a swimming, darting retrieve. Fish damselfly nymphs over submerged weeds and near the surface with erratic strips. Scuds move with a slow, jerky motion. Give leech patterns a quick, irregular action in the shallows and around weeds; but in deeper water use a slower, longer strip-and-pause retrieve near the bottom.

22. Double down. When you can't see visible, cruising fish, search prime water with tandem-fly rigs. Try a No. 14¿¿¿16 Woolly Worm trailed by a large, black Woolly Bugger or Marabou Leech. Or cast two streamers of different size and color. You can also twitch a pair of nymphs just under the surface or near the bottom. With skittish trout holding in weeds, hang a No. 16 Pheasant Tail nymph and a No. 18¿¿¿20 midge larva or scud pattern beneath a strike indicator and let it sit.

23. Soften Up. Trout love soft-plastic baits designed for crappies and bass. Black grub tails make tremendous leech imitations, especially when fished on a red or orange jighead (suggestive of a trout egg). Pearl-white tails and baitfish-mimicking bodies (in blue and white, trout colors, grey-black and white) are also deadly. Switch colors and sizes-don't be afraid to fish bass-size baits for big trout-and vary your retrieves: slow and steady, rise and fall, or "bumping" along the bottom.

** 24. Locate trout haunts.** Look for trout near springs, inlets (especially during and after a rainstorm), channels, points of land, shoals, and dropoffs.

** 25. Watch for foam lines.** These lines form in offshore slicks on gusty days. They serve as natural flypaper, trapping insects. Trout feed beneath the foam and along its edges.

26. Find submerged weedbeds. Weeds are essentially a food factory, where nymphs, larvae, scuds, and baitfish breed and feed, and where trout do most of their dining.

** 27. Lead the way. **A common mistake is casting a lure or fly directly to a rise ring, which often spooks the fish. Patient anglers will observe a still-water trout's moving and feeding pattern and then cast to where the fish is going.

28. Fish fine. As a general rule, spinfishermen will do best with the lightest tackle suitable for the size and weight of the lures they're using. Four- to 6-pound-test matches well with most jigs and with size 0¿¿¿3 spinners and spoons. Avoid unnecessary, bulky, or flashy-bright snaps and swivels. Tie jigs and small spinners directly to the line; use small, dark snap-swivels with spoons and larger lures.

29. Change patterns often. Unlike most stream situations, trout in still water have all the time they want to inspect and reject a fly, so don't persist with something that isn't working.

30. Fish at different depths. If you aren't seeing or enticing fish on or near the surfacce, go deeper. Use a weighted fly or add microshot with a floating line; or switch to a sink-tip or full-sink line. Use the countdown method for systematic depth control. When the fly begins sinking, start counting: one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. Note the number when you start your retrieve. On the next cast, let the fly sink for two or three seconds longer before retrieving. Work your way down to the bottom. If you tangle in weeds on a cast, simply count one or two seconds fewer on the subsequent cast, and you'll be just above the weeds, tangle-free and right in the fish zone.

31. Stay tight. On still waters, keep your rod tip low. This will help your line remain tight, which is important for detecting takes and for quick, effective strikes with both lures and flies.

32. Get greasy. When fishing nymphs close to the surface, grease all of the leader except the last few inches. This turns the whole leader into a strike indicator. If it jerks, flashes, or darts toward the fly, set the hook.

**33. Be aware. **If you notice fish turning away or flaring from a lure, chances are it's too bright and/or too large. Silver or bright gold blades will sometimes spook trout in clear water. Change to more muted blades and natural-bait colors.