Brian Chan, a fisheries biologist from British Columbia, likes to target shallow lake waters just after ice-out. You’ll find a variety of prey items pulling trout toward water that’s less than 10 feet deep, and they’ll start to be active on the first sunny days when the water opens.
We recommend targeting the edges and tops of live weed beds with in-line spinners like the Mepp’s Dressed Aglia Spinner, the Yakima Bait Worden’s Original Rooster Tail, and the Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner. Each of these veteran designs has caught more trout than you ever will!
Their appeal to Rainbows is a combination of life-like color, a spinning blade to add flash and vibration, and an almost irresistible fluttering action. Pitch these with a swivel to avoid tangles, and run them just over and beside live weed beds.
Retrieve at a steady cadence, keeping those sharp treble hooks above the green stuff. You’ll entice waiting trout to strike, especially if you keep the classic color choices on hand: silver, gold, black, and white.
And while opinions vary on the applicability of “powerbaits” for native trout, it never hurts to sweeten your hooks with a tad of Berkley PowerBait Trout Nibble.
These lures are just as effective when the water’s white, though they’re a bit trickier to fish.
The best technique involves an upstream cast. Then, retrieve to keep the spinner just ahead of the current and afloat. The fluttering blade will help you here, and it will create plenty of flash to attract a strike.
Yesmovies As you work the lure toward you, you’ll eventually turn it across current, when you’ll need to slow your retrieve. That hooking motion is often money for both Rainbows and Steelheads!
Slip Floating Tube Jigs
Another way to hit the spring shallows or to reach the summer depths is to use a slip float in conjunction with a tube jig.
A slip float lets you control the depth of your bait with precision, and it’s far more castable than a standard bobber. We’re partial to Thill’s floats, and for trout, I’d throw the Thill Pro Series Slip Float. They’re easy to rig and adjust, high quality, and easy to see.
If you’re not familiar with how to rig a slip float–no worries; it’s easy!
It may seem strange to pitch a tube jig for trout. After all, they don’t look like anything they feed on, except maybe a squid for Steelhead. But whatever the trout think they are, they must be delicious!
I recommend the Strike King Bitsy Tube in all the colors Bass Pro features. These 2 ¾ inch wonders feature a fringe skirt that wriggles with every twitch of your wrist, and if you rig them on an awesome jig head like the Leland’s Lures Trout Magnet Jighead, they can draw Rainbows into a strike when nothing else is working.
The trick for trout is to know how deep they’re holding. Then, set the float to dangle your jig just above them. Given their propensity to feed upward, hold on!
If the trout are holding on the bottom, and they often will, 8 to 10 inches is enough.
If you’re not sure how to rig a jig, pay close attention to these photos:
Popping Critters on Lakes and in Eddys and Pools
Both Rainbows and Steelheads have outstanding vision, and that visual acuity, combined with fine color perception, means that the more realistic the lure, the better.
Fly anglers are generally given top billing in this respect, and a well-tied fly is pretty amazing.
But there are options for spinning gear that will fool trout just as easily, and these top water poppers are simply murder where you can find still water, whether that’s on a lake, in an eddy, or in a shallow pool.
These lures are simple to work, too. Cast and let them sit for a few seconds–trout will often take them just after they hit the water! If that doesn’t happen, pop the lure a few times, retrieve the slack from your line, and wait a few seconds.
Once you find a cadence that calls in the hits, keep at it. I like to start with a pop-pop-rest.
Spawn Sacks and Slip Floats
Where legal, salmon roe is an awesome “live” bait choice. Immature trout develop a taste for these eggs in the first few years of their life, and they never lose it.
You can purchase roe from tackle stores, or if you want to skip the set-up, you can buy the sacks pre-made. Atlas sells these in jars of six.