This post was originally published in November of 2015.
John D. Silva - MFCC member
I’m always surprised by the number of people who believe that the annual trout fishing season runs for only five or six months a year. I’m often asked if I’m “anxious” to get back out on the water during the winter months.
What these folks don’t realize is that there is no beginning or end to the trout fishing season, just ongoing adaptation 12 months a year. No matter the tackle or the techniques involved, the important thing is to just get out there and enjoy.
In this article I'll be sharing with you techniques, lures and tackle that you can use for trout fishing on Cape Cod or elsewhere in Massachusetts.
Specifically we'll be discussing:
Bottom Fishing for Trout
The universal standard for success for most trout anglers involves live or fresh bait in one form or another. Live (small) shiners, Powerbait, and grass shrimp all work.
My favorite, go-to method consists of a simple night crawler on a sliding weight rig, injected with an air bubble (using a worm blower) to keep it hovering enticingly about a foot off the bottom.
Absent a worm blower, a tiny mini-marshmallow can be threaded on the hook before the worm to help keep the bait off the bottom.
You can set your rod in a holder and either leave the reel in free spool (or bail open) or rig a rubber band to the handle and stick a loop of the mainline underneath it.
Then hang a strike detector on the line between two of the top eyelets of the rod, (such as a bobber attached to an unfolded paperclip). When a fish takes the bait, the line pops out of the rubber band and runs freely.
Simply lock in the reel and set the hook. Trout can also be enticed to hit a small live shiner, smelt, or minnow when slowly worked along the bottom.
Topwater Fishing for Trout
You don’t always have to be fancy to be successful at trout fishing. The most basic methods our grandfathers used are still effective today and will remain so as long as fish feed on natural forage.
Large trout, especially browns, can be easily enticed by suspending a small shiner a couple feet below a balsa float (or bobber) during the low-light conditions of dawn and dusk.
This is basic fishing at its finest, and also a great way to engage the kids. For the more impatient types, try using a night crawler or garden worm.
When wade fishing, a floating Rapala or similar style minnow-bait retrieved slowly along the surface creates a tiny wake and is deadly on aggressive trout; especially big browns.
Additionally, a fly or nymph can be used on spinning gear by adding a clear plastic float and slowly working along the surface.
Fly fishing tackle is also very popular and effective using a variety of dry flies and nymphs.
Deepwater Fishing for Trout
One of my favorite shoreline techniques for big, beefy holdover trout in deep water is what I like to call “long-range horizontal jigging.”
Tackle starts with a flexible 10-foot noodle rod spooled with 8 pound braid and a 6-pound fluoro leader about 12 to 16 inches in length. I employ a ¾- to 1-ounce spoon or tin—such as a Lil Cleo or a Hopkins Lure for example—and cast far and long.
Let the lure settle to the bottom before beginning the retrieve. If you are using a spoon with built-in swimming action such as the Lil Cleo, Dardevle, Goldfish, etc., simply roll it along the bottom very slowly, incorporating an occasional light twitch if needed.
When using jigging spoons or tins (Kastmaster, Hopkins, Crippled Herring, etc.) that have no built-in action, use short, sharp jerks of the rod tip. Always keep a tight line and maintain constant contact with the lure.
Be ready for strikes when the lure is falling.
If you’re not getting hits during these long retrieves, move around and feel your way along the bottom until you are successful. Often you will find multiple fish bunched up within their favorite, most bountiful feeding/holding areas.
A pond map is useful for picking out good shoreline spots where the depth drops off quickly, to about 25 to 40 feet deep.
Cast and Retrieve
Covering a pond step by step and fan casting is an enjoyable and efficient way to spend any morning (or late afternoon). Depending on the amount of angler pressure a pond may have, you can never go wrong by wade fishing.
Simply work the shoreline casting and retrieving a variety of small spinners and spoons, and switching lures until you have success.
Here are some specific lures I like to use:
- Panther Martin
- Blue Fox
- Little Cleo
- Thomas Buoyant
For color, I always lean toward the classics:
In low light conditions some of the latest ultra-violet reactive finishes are always worth a try.