Opening Day Trout

Expect rain! I plan to fish opening day even though most of the lakes and ponds are now open all year here. Friends claim I'd make a fortune by planning fishing or hunting trips for farmers, since rain or other rotten weather seems to follow. Could be worse, one trout opener in the Sierras we had 27 inches of snow!

So check the gear, hone hooks, find the creek or vests -- ever wondered why adults put fish, or gamebirds, into their clothing? -- and get ready to leave far too early, drive far too far and, in most cases, catch far too few trout. Bring a kid, wife or buddy, it's more fun.

My wife calls opening day trout "Too, Too, Too, Too Trout too" because the water's usually too high and too cold and too muddy there are far too many anglers crammed into far too few holes. Fortunately, in much of the country the typical catch is what we call "truck trout" here in Idaho where stocking's mostly for the tourists. And truck trout and their seekers apparently don't mind crowding.

But there's something special about opening day. Just be prepared.

If you're not a purist consider worms, long shank size 8 hooks and a float to bounce your worm down the line. Otherwise salmon eggs and, hopefully, size 12 or 14 salmon egg hooks or everybody's colorful favorite Power Bait on size 10 hooks does the job. Have you ever wondered if Power Bait and its clones was designed by commercial laundry owners to make the maximum colorful stain on your clothing? These are even better if a pup eats your bait and barfs on your lap -- details on request.

If you prefer to fish lures -- think slow! Loggy cold water trout like slow. I'll go with silver or gold spinners in the smallest possible sizes. I use Mepps and some home-made Colorado spinners interchangeably. Just remember the wider the blade and slower the spinn and, usually, the slower the sink rate. Spinners made from a couple of split rings do run more shallow than shaft and clevis spinners with weighted bodies. So bag some of each.

I do crimp spinner blades up on the corner away from the shank or clevis with pliers so two lures spin in opposite directions. This reduces twists. So do spinners with offset heads and ball-bearing swivels. In my experience the little brass barrel swivels simply don't. Remember that kinky lines turn straight if you simply run them out in the current without a lure for a bit.

If you need to go deeper, or cast further, consider tiny Kastmaster or Hopkins spoons. If you have to go a lot deeper thicker bodied spoons like Wob-L-Rites enter. As with spinners silver or gold suits off-color water, but I prefer copper or black or green or even brown as water clears. Small spoons with some extra shot for casting take more fish than bigger spooons. Note: I replace trebles with small Siwash barbless singles as these let me hook more fish and release those I don't want more easily.

Plugs --my wife catches everything, everywhere on a mini crawdad from Rebel -- work well for larger fish in larger waters and for lake or big river trolling. Size plugs to match baitfish that start out small in early season and grow bigger each month. Silver or gold matches baitfish hue. Various exact match photo imprint plugs decorate tackle boxes nicely.

If you must fish in really snaggy nasty water consider cheap crappie jigs that produce in sizes 8 and smaller and in colors like motor oil, white, flake, etc.

Finally, if you must fling flies, I'd go with sunken critters such as muddler minnows, crawdad imitations and large stoneflies if you're trophy bent. Otherwise, stick to caddis imitations.

If conditions are so awful nobody is going to catch anything flinging flies. It's the classy way to get skunked, but all anglers should realize that in these days of catch and release your catch is only limited by your imagination -- or arm span -- and the guilability of your audience.