Kenneth Kieser: Trout for Christmas sounds appealing
Fishing with family or friends creates cherished traditions during the holidays. Cold, crisp air on your face feels good while casting and reeling and trout really fight well in cold water. December is a great month to be outdoors.
Trout are stocked every year in the lake where we live. Marvin “Ol’ Bud” Lynch and I occasionally slip away from our families and spend several hours beating the lake to a froth with spoons or spinners on ultra-lite tackle and 4-pound-test line.
We both have a zillion good trout lures, but constantly use the same ones over and over. Hey, this spoon worked last time, so why not now? Here’s why not:
Trout change feeding patterns because of water temperature changes, available forage, water clarity and weather conditions. They might feed on a certain fly when insects hatch, especially mayflies, then change to minnows or small shad when the bugs are gone. A trout angler must throw the correct lure to avoid being banished to that sad land of the skunked.
I recently received a lesson on this. The bite was tough and after an hour fishing, one small trout and a medium-sized bass hit our lures. “Ol’ Bud” decided to tie on a small, chrome and blue Rattletrap, a lure that has a deep wobble and drops quickly. I was throwing my favorite trout spoon, a gold-plated Al’s Goldfish, about 2 inches long.
The lake level was low and we were fishing from the bank without success, so we decided to go exploring. The upper end of our lake looked promising. The water was deeper with a steady stream of creek water running into the lake. Trout love to feed on insects, worms and other tiny critters washed in with the flow.
Trout were breaking the surface up and down the shoreline, chasing small shad and an occasional insect. I cast out my gold spoon. A different retrieve speed was used on each cast to see what worked best. I managed to hook a small trout after about 10 casts. “Ol’ Bud” was getting hits on every cast, but no solid hook sets. They were attracted to the silver and blue wobbling lure, but not offering solid commitment.
I changed lures to match “Ol’ Bud’s,” Rattletrap colors and selected a silver and blue Al’s Goldfish Forty-Niner Spoon. This unique looking lure has a bent shape with red eyes. I stripped out a little line and slipped it back and forth in the water. The wobble created a vibration I could feel through the rod and it resembled a swimming 2-inch gizzard shad.
My first cast was a long one toward rising fish. I made three reel turns and a good trout hit, immediately doubling the rod. The trout made several strong, desperate runs while I fought to gain line. Soon it flashed on its side and the 3 1/2-pounder slipped into our net. “Ol’ Bud” hooked a good one at the same time to complete what veteran anglers call a double play.
The second cast produced the same result and another good fight. I decided that retying my lure after the trout was landed seemed necessary. Line will occasionally drag across underwater rocks or other obstacles on retrieves or when fighting a fish. Retying prevents easy line breakage.
The Forty Niner Spoon was my miracle lure at that moment. On other days the gold produced more strikes and on some days spinners were productive. Trout will let you know what they want.
The third cast produced a solid hit but the trout somehow got away from the sharp treble hook. Three hits on three casts, the blue and silver spoon with a deep wobble was that day’s ticket to a fish fry.
Shad have a natural vibration that is even louder when they spawn. So, a lure that wobbles will make some vibration noise, imitating an appealing sound to feeding trout. The trick is to experiment with retrieves until you find the perfect speed.
“Ol’ Bud” and I quickly caught our daily limits of trout and stopped at our friend, Zac Morton’s house. He and his son Ellis decided to have a go at the trout, so I cut the Forty Niner Spoon off my line and gave it to him. This message came in about 45 minutes later:
“Where did you get that Forty Niner Spoon? My boy caught his limit of trout in 30 minutes and we released several smaller fish. That is the best spoon we have ever used. Ellis will talk about this day for years, how he out-fished dad.”
Ellis discovered that my spoon worked well that day, but it might not be as productive on a different day when the gold version might be the hot ticket, making it important to have a variety of different colored spoons, small lures and spinners. I might have only caught one had “Ol’ Bud” not been using his silver and blue Rattletrap that attracted the first trout hits. The shad color and exceptional lure action of Al’s Forty Niner spoon saved my day.
Sadly, this will be a unique Christmas when many of us will not see our families thanks to the COVID-19 virus. So why not take a fishing trip and feel some of that crisp, cold air on your face while seeing if Mr. Trout wants to play. Check with your local fish and game department to determine what public lakes have stocked trout. You can find the spoons used at Bass Pro Shop or check Al’s Goldfish website to see the spoons we used and order a set.
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.