Friday, February 18, 2011

Early season........................... Fish ass-backwards???

The early trout season in Wisconsin can provide some different types of challenges from perfect weather to blizzards. It also will provide for some of the best fishing of the season. In March/April the weeds and grasses surrounding the trout streams will not be overgrown allowing for great casting angles. In stream weed growth will be at a minimum, and the stream water temps are near perfect most of the time.
I think that many people over think the strategies on how to fish in the early season. Yes things might be SLIGHTLY different, but you really don't need to completely change how you fish. Weather can and will be a constant challenge at times, but here are some pointers to catch a monster Brook, Brown, Tiger or Rainbow this season.
1.) Bring an extra pair of clothes. For two reasons, the first reason is obvious, if you fall into the cold water when temps can be below freezing you will want to change. And some mornings you will start out very cold, but temps will rise into the 50's and 60's quickly.
2.) Fish a bit larger than you normally would. Spin fisherman can up size spinners, spoons, plugs whatever. Fly-Fishers you should also consider doing the same with great early season patterns like wolly buggers, Maribou Patterns, Matukas, etc.................
3.) Very early in the year you might have to slow down your presentation just a bit. Trout are cold blooded animals so super cold water = super sluggish trout. The magic water temp I have found is 40 degrees for trout to really start feeding. This means fish near constant water temperature areas (springs, feeder streams)  when there is a good amount of snow melt which will cool the streams more the further down stream you go.
4.) Sleep in. I won't even get out of bed until 9-10 am during the first few weeks of the season when average high temps are still in the 30's. Sleep in and let things warm up a bit.
5.) Fish deep in the trout's "winter holes."  Trout will still be holding in deep pools saving energy and not battling the current in riffles, runs, or rapids where you might catch aggressive feeding trout in late spring and summer.
 6.) Fish ass backwards!! 90% of anglers will fish moving upstream (since trout face upstream) allowing you to sneak up on them without spooking the fish. Early season you might get a ton of follows or quick strikes with few hook-ups, but try this!!
* Find a deep hole you wish to fish.
* Walk away from the stream and bend up and around about 15 yards upstream of the pool.
* Sneak up to the side of the stream keeping a low profile and wearing dark natural toned clothes.
* Cast a lure or fly into the top area of the pool with a low cast to avoid a large splash.
* Let the current do the work allowing your presentations to spin, flutter, wiggle or dance without moving the presentation upstream, but just holding it steady and maybe twitching it a bit. Keep the rod tip out over the stream keeping your presentation working in the pool. The trout will not have to "chase" your bait down using a bunch of energy to catch it. This will allow you to catch more big trout in the early season.

I also would recommend fishing streams that you know very well the first two/three weeks of the season. Once average high temps are reaching the 40's go nuts.   Go find big trout in non-designated water.....explore and find new gems!!

Enjoy only 14 days until I see you stream side!


  1. Mike,

    Thanks for the tips. I'll give the method you mentioned a try, letting the fly drift downstream from above the hole.


  2. The real Montana of the Midwest is right here.
    Hope to see you at WFSC in Avalanche