Targeting Trophy Trout

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Published on: Jul. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

Set the hook!

He's fighting like crazy - what a pull! Well, if it's too much pull, you can lessen it simply by not pulling as hard yourself. You're in an arm wrestling match with the trout; the more pressure you exert, the more resistance the trout provides. Take your time. That lesson will serve you well with big fish, which is what we're after.

Big fish - trophies - live in the same river as small ones, but seem to be only in the best spots. You get a quick lesson in this when you let your worm linger in marginal water at the end of your drift. You almost never catch a decent fish there; you either catch chubs or small trout. Similarly, you almost never catch itty-bitty trout from the middle of a deep run.

The big fish also seem to key on different foods. For example, nightcrawlers will catch a lot of fish up to 14 inches, but the trophy fish seem to snub them. I don't know why this is so.

What it means, however, is that we'll have to abandon nightcrawlers and try a different bait.

Crayfish see m a likely candidate for trophy trout. They're big, meaty and plentiful. Kick around the bottom of a trout stream and they'll scuttle from rock to rock. If you've got quick hands you can pin them against the bottom and get a thumb and index finger grip on their back shell before they can pinch you. (Being pinched might hurt a little, but it is not life-threatening or even skin breaking.)

Another option is to use a fine mesh net or seine. Keep the net downstream and near the bottom in fast current as you kick over rocks in the current. Keep at it; you'll catch crayfish.

I wouldn't eat a crayfish without peeling it, but trout do. However, they seem to prefer soft-shelled crayfish, sometimes called peelers. These crayfish have shed their old shells and their new ones have not yet hardened. Peelers are noticeably soft when you pick them up by the back. Because they are vulnerable to both predators and competitors at this stage, they tend not to be easily dislodged from their hiding places.

Use whole small crayfish or just the tails of bigger ones. Some anglers snap the pincer arms off crayfish before putting them on the hook and/or peel some of the hard exoskeleton away to expose flesh

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