Fishing for Trout: Finding and Catching

Fall is finally here, and I've been trying to enjoy this season as much as I can! Winter is, after all, the hibernation season for most fishes...and guys - it's coming soon! 
Let's talk a little bit about Trout. As you all know (or should know), Fall stocking happened just recently around Philadelphia and NJ. For more information, you can click on the links below:
Please, let me remind everyone that A TROUT STAMP is needed in order to fish for stocked Trout! If you are caught by the PA Fish and Boat Commission fishing for Trout without a Trout License, you can be in big trouble with the law! If you have one, enjoy the Fall season! If not, you can still purchase one here (online), or seriously think about purchasing one for the next year!
Also, note that the Fall Trout limit is not 5, but 3 Trout per day per person. Important Note:
"Persons accused of violating the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Code or rules and regulations may be issued a citation and have a right to a hearing before a district justice. Law enforcement personnel have the authority to confiscate or seize as evidence fish and fishing equipment that are illegal or used to violate fishing laws or regulations. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission may, upon proper notice, suspend or revoke the fishing privileges, boating privileges or other permits of any person convicted (or acknowledging guilt) of a violation of the Fish and Boat Code or Fish & Boat Commission regulations.

If you have been convicted of or plead guilty to a second or subsequent violation within a 12-month period, you may be assessed an additional fine of $200 for those offenses classified as summary offenses."

There will be a full "Trouting 101" post coming up soon, as well as a Trout report from Rob; however, I'll give out two useful hints right now because I've received a considerate amount of e-mails concerning how Trout are difficult to catch. It seems that people have been getting frustrated when it comes to Trout fishing. Note that these hints are not totally developed, as they will be totally worked out on next week's topic.
----------- Fishing for Trout: Find and Catch -----------
The name of the title actually gives everything away: the two useful hints are (1) to find the Trout and (2) to catch the Trout.
Therefore, let's start with number 1: Finding the Trout.
One of the worst possible ways of fishing for Trout is to stay in a fixed position and "wait" for the fish to bite. Different from the regular bottom feeder set up, an angler that fishes for Trout should be more active - move along the respective body of water searching for the fish.   
Therefore, the first 50% of Trout fishing is actually FINDING THE FISH. That's even before putting your line in the water! This portion of the sport is all about looking at the environment, analyzing the body of water in terms of hydrology, etc. It's, in other words, all about reading the water.
In next week's post, I'll cover the 3 basic needs that Trout take in consideration while picking a spot to stay at; what people usually call "Trout Lies." For now, I'll just list where Trout MAY BE, and where Trout will DEFINITELY NOT BE AT:
Good holding lies (where Trout stay at):
- Deep holes
- Eddies
- Upwelling springs
Good feeding lies (where Trout feeds):
- Pocket water (8 inches+)
- Current seams
- Weed Patches
- Riffles
- Overhanging brushes
- Tailouts
Prime lies (the best spots for Trout, but also the least common spots):
- Undercut banks
- Boulders
- Deep runs
- Brush piles
- Plunge pools
- Root-wads
And, finally, places that Trout WILL NOT BE AT; in other words, Empty Water:
- Shallow riffles (Less than 4 inches)
- Featureless flats
- Stagnant pools
Note that I'll give all necessary data to support these locations on the post next week. Therefore, I'll write down all the science behind it in a clear and understandable way. you know that you shouldn't stay in an empty water spot, and the best way to increase your success in catching Trout and avoid empty waters is to move around until you find good/prime lies. Once you think you found a good place, you are 50% there! This is where the other 50% comes in: catching the Trout.
2. Catching the Trout
Okay! So, you put in your efforts and finally "found" the Trout. You tried a couple different things, but they don't really seem to bite. They are swimming right in front of you, but you just fail to entice them to bite. Now what?
Trout are known for their utmost wariness! They are not just finicky fish, but also instinctively smart: they know when something around them is not right. When that happens, for example, they will often turn away from your bait at the last second, or, they will hide under structure and disappear from your sight. When this happens to you, it's a good sign that you are doing something extremely wrong. One way or another, the angler wants to "be ninja." In other words, be nimble and careful.
Here are some hints and facts that will help you catch some Trout. Note that I'm just throwing them out for you - the reader - to think about. You should be able to think about a possible solution after reading these; in other words, a better way of fishing for them.
- Large Trout hooked in small streams are very difficult to land. Despite what most people think, they are very fast - powerful swimmers! Just like Smallmouth Bass, big Trouts instinctively dash for cover once hooked, often breaking loose after snagging the line.
- "We need bigger hooks for bigger fish." That's a fallacy, fellas. Trout have the wariness of Common Carp - they can see your equipment very very clearly. If your hook is exposed, chances are that even the smallest Trout will not bite your bait. Think about it: what happens when your line is too thick, or you have a swivel or sinker on? Hmm...
- "There are no Trout in this stream." That's another fallacy, fellas! You would be SURPRISED and awed by how many Trout can actually live in a small coldwater stream. What happens is that most fish spend the day under cover; therefore, they can't be seen. The only time that Trout actually becomes exposed is when they LEAVE COVER TO FEED.
- As a rule of thumb, and following the "laws of nature," Trout feed best when light is dim. You know they will start feeding better when you see insect activity around the area. So, it's not really a surprise that many expert Trout anglers prefer to fish later in the day.
- Trout suffers from acute gluttony. Under a feeding binge, catching them becomes very easy. That's their utmost weakness: food availability.
- Water temperature influences Trout and their feeding behavior. By thermodynamics, Trout are most active in afternoons when the weather is cold, and early in the morning when the weather is hot.
- The biggest Trout are very likely caught during peak feeding times. So, you wanna record and watch out for the times when Trout feeds best! Also, the big ones tend to keep the smaller ones away from prime feeding spots; therefore, the poor smaller Trouts are forced to feed somewhere else where food may not be as available.
- Rising water is an AWESOME sign that Trout will feed better. That has to do with insects being washed from the banks, and stronger currents flipping the bottom of the creek for insect larvae, etc.
- When not feeding, as mentioned before, Trout will seek shade and cover in resting areas. They will, however, dart from cover to grab food even when they are resting.
Okay...I think this is enough for now. Haha
Finding and Catching! In reality, it's a very similar methodology to Bass fishing, but Bass and Trout are VERY different in nature. Of course, I'll discuss more about this topic next week.
For now, I hope you grasped the fundamentals! If so, get out there and try to catch some Trout! Believe me: it's so much fun!
Below are some pictures of my recent catches from Pennypack and Wissahickon:

First Trout of the season!

Beautiful Rainbow caught at Pennypack, between Roosevelt Blvd and Old Bustleton Ave.

Rainbow Trout caught at Axe Factory Road portion of the Pennypack.

3 Trout - first time limit for this Fall.

1.1lbs Rainbow Trout caught at Forbidden Drive - Wissahickon Creek.

Beautiful 1.6lbs Rainbow Trout caught at the Wissahickon.

Limit at the Wissahickon: 1.1 (14), 1.2 (15), 1.6lbs (14in), respectively

Have fun catching some Trout, guys! After all, that's the reward for purchasing a Trout stamp, isn't it?

Best of luck for all of us,

Long Days and Pleasant Nights,


Leo S.