We started using crankbaits for trout many years ago. Then, Hump-Back Rebels and any small crawfish imitation in shape and color were successful.
Recently a friend of mine, Jeff Samsel, discovered that the Bomber 13A is a great lure for trout. The 2 1/2-inch 13A stays shallow and has a wide “X” swimming action. Jerks and twitches cause the bait to erratically dart to the side. The 13A’s size makes it ideal for a host of trout fishing situations. It’s small enough to look manageable even to a 10- or 12-inch stocked trout, but big enough to draw the interest of large fish.
This little minnow bait’s size, shape and action make it well-suited for many applications. Here are three trout fishing situations where the Bomber 13A truly shines:
River bars: Taneycomo and all the trout stream have plenty of river bars. The shallow path of a Bomber 13A allows you to swim it over the tops of river shoals and gravel bars, and the bait’s wide swing creates great visibility, along with pushing vibrations through the water, to help the fish zero in on the lure.
“Cast past the shallowest part of a shoal or bar,” Samsel said. “Turn the reel handle quickly at first just to get the lure down, and then either swim it steadily just quickly enough to keep it wobbling and down, or work it with gentle rod tip twitches.
“If the top of a shoal is less than a couple of feet deep or it has shallow boulders scattered along the top, be sure to bounce the lure off some of the structure. Also be extra ready as the bait crosses any edge where the structure falls off into deeper water.”
Work the lure all the way back and watch behind it during the retrieve. Trout are notorious followers. If quite a few fish are following but few will commit, change your retrieve speed or cadence, or change to a different color.
Rising streams: Rising water activates fish. Higher water commonly brings with it a bit of stain, which along with the added flow, makes fish less cautious. Often the new water also carries an influx of food, or it dislodges food and makes the groceries more available to the trout.
“For current lanes broken by boulders or other cover, cast upstream and work the bait with quick, sharp tugs that make it dart erratically,” Samsel said. “Move the bait just fast enough to keep it down and darting while allowing the current to do the bulk of the delivery work and sweep the bait past key spots.”
Look for spots where the current sweeps beneath the trunk of a downed tree or a cluster of branches, and position to the side and slightly upstream in streams that have wood as the primary cover. Cast or pitch so the bait lands just upstream of the tree and hold the line tight so the current pulls the lure under and sweeps it into the brush.
Use your rod and reel together to control the distance as you allow the bait to travel under the cover, and be ready to quickly respond with a hookset. This is admittedly a good way to snag a lure, but it’s also an excellent way to draw the ire of a big brown trout.
Still water: While streams get the lion’s share of the attention when folks talk about trout waters, many lakes offer excellent trout prospects, often with fish that are minnow-oriented in their natural feeding behavior. Still waters, therefore, are wonderfully well-suited for a Bomber 13A.
If trout are holding in less than about 6 feet of water and are oriented along the bank or using visible, shallow cover, the approach couldn’t get much simpler. Cast toward the shore or cover and reel the lure back, possibly adding some twitches and pauses to the presentations.
When fish are high in the water column, troll your lures on direct lines well behind the boat or with side-planers to avoid spooking fish. If the trout are deeper, you can troll the same lures at pretty much any depth by using snap-on weights, lead-core line or downriggers.
Experiment with different crankbaits to find what the trout are hitting. You just found a way to catch summer trout.
Kenneth Kieser, a veteran outdoors writer and member of the Waterfowlers Hall of Fame and National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, writes a weekly outdoors column for The Examiner. Reach him at email@example.com