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"First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

 

Come ice out, I look forward to the chance to cast a line and battle a scrappy rainbow or brown. And for the most part, these early season fish are willing biters.

The one and only catch is water temperature. Those first few weeks of the open water season the lake water is near freezing. Because fish are cold blooded, which means their activity levels rise and fall with the corresponding water temperature, expect them to be lethargic. Simply said, they won't move much to catch their food, but give a trout ample opportunity to eat an easy meal and you can be sure that there will be plenty of bites on the end of your line. The trick for catching early season trout is to slow the presentation down. Be it a fly, a lure or bait, something that is slow moving to not moving at all is the ticket into getting a trout to commit.

A strategy I like to use is to work around the lakeshore hunting out all the shallow areas, typically in water that's five feet deep or less. The shallow water warms faster than the deeper stuff, and because of this, I've found more trout and more active trout in these locations.

I've had a lot of success using a small trout worm fished below a bobber, be it a slip bobber or one of those smaller clip on varieties. Lately I've converted to using small nymphs suspended under those same bobbers. A bead headed prince nymph or a bead headed pheasant tail nymph in sizes 10 - 14 is often just the ticket to catch plenty of pothole trout. It's a finesse presentation that fools a lot of fish.

One thing I've noticed is at ice out, lakes do not warm uniformly. There will be warmer pockets and believe me, the trout know about these pockets and prefer to hang on them. A south facing shore warms up faster. A south facing shore that has a shallow dark bottom warms up faster still. Early in the season the warmer water holds a lot of appeal for trout and they will congregate in these areas. Because of this, figure out where the warmer water is and start your search for trout there.

It's a given that this style of fishing lends itself to a run and gun approach where you work shallow water, cover the area thoroughly and move on. There's no sense in waiting around in shallow water conditions. Either the trout are there and they'll bite or they're not and won't. Because this is shallow water fishing expect spooky trout. I find the best approach is from a boat of some sort. Drift into the fishable zone, anchor a cast distance away, then methodically work all promising waters.

My buddy Ross and I hit this tiny, non-descript bay last year that was loaded with rainbows. As fast as we could pitch the bobber and nymph was about as fast as we would hook a trout. Most of these rainbows were big, husky, three to five pound beauties. We never moved from that spot and over the course of three or so hours we caught at least a dozen fish each. We spent more time fighting fish than fishing for them. It was good fishing.

Because rainbows spawn in the spring, when you find one, there is likely to be more nearby. And as much fun as the big ones are to catch, I'd recommend taking a picture and letting them go. At the height of their spawn these rainbows are about as poor a table fare as they come. They will clean up by fall and are great eating then, but keeping one in the spring usually leads to disappointment.

You should note that not all rainbows spawn in the spring. There is a great population of what I call 'silver fish', which are rainbows, typically from two to four pounds that are exactly that, silver. These are the fish I choose to keep for eating and you'll find that their meat is pink and they taste great.

These 'silver' fish are non-spawners and it's a no doubter when you hook one. While not being as big as the average spawner, they are more explosive and powerful. They run like a possessed tiger and will fight hard from the word go.

When it comes to the best time of day to be fishing trout, early morning and evening do produce, but it's simply not the be all and end all. These fish bite throughout the day and an angler who fishes a slow deliberate style will catch plenty. This spring make some plans to hit your favorite potholes and get ready for a great day of trout fishing.


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Old Man River

(2) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River

(3) Small stream BT fishing

(4) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started

(5) In The Walleye Zone

(6) Zoo Trout

(7) Fly Selection for Beginners

(8) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(9) New Waters

(10) Big Bad Burbot

(11) Looking Back

(12) Out of Africa

(13) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(14) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(15) The Browns of Autumn

(16) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(17) Walleye Town

(18) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(19) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(20) Going With The Flow

(21) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(22) Swinging The Fences

(23) A View From The Aerie

(24) Dixieland Delight

(25) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(26) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(27) Montana's Cool Missouri

(28) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(29) Toothy Critters

(30) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(31) Top Ten Flies

(32) Northern Exposure

(33) Home Water Lessons

(34) Chicken Of The Sea

(35) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(36) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(37) Keep It Up!

(38) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(39) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(40) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(41) Hawg Holes

(42) Saltwater Salmon

(43) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(44) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(45) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(46) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(47) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(48) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(49) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(50) Fall Walleye

(51) Wet Flies

(52) Versatility the Key to Success

(53) Grayling of the Boreal

(54) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(55) Size Matters

(56) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(57) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(58) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(59) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(60) The Point Of It All

(61) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(62) Fall Fly Fishing

(63) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(64) Big River, Big Fish

(65) Bottom Bonanza

(66) Fishing Small Flies

(67) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(68) Four Seasons of the Bow

(69) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(70) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(71) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(72) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
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(73) Edge Walleye

(74) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(75) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(76) Four Corners – Four Waters

(77) Chasing Pothole Trout

(78) Springtime Stoneflies

(79) The Torrents of Spring

(80) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(81) Bust Them With Bait

(82) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(83) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(84) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(85) Terrestrials

(86) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(87) Rocky Mountain High

(88) Reading the clues

(89) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(90) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(91) Fly Fishing 101

(92) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(93) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(94) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(95) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(96) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(97) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(98) Trust Your Electronics

(99) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(100) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(101) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(102) Walleye can be Humbling

(103) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(104) Winter Flyfishing

(105) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(106) Hot Fall Pike Action

(107) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(108) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(109) Frequently Asked Questions

(110) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(111) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(112) Deep Water Perch

(113) Post Spawn Brookies

(114) A Fisher's Life

(115) The River's Last Stand

(116) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(117) Coho on the Coast

(118) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(119) Summer in the Mountains

(120) Peak Walleye Season

(121) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(122) Last Ice Rainbows

(123) The Burbot Event

(124) Tackle Matching

(125) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(126) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(127) The Lure of Brook Trout

(128) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(129) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(130) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(131) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(132) The Vesatile Plug

(133) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(134) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(135) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(136) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(137) Daily Fish Migrations

(138) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(139) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(140) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(141) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(142) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(143) The Fun in Ultra Light

(144) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(145) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(146) Never Stop Learning

(147) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(148) Jigging through the Ice

(149) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(150) Rainbows on Ice

(151) The Season of Ice Begins

(152) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(153) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(154) Facts On Cats

(155) West Coast Adventure

(156) June Walleye Frenzy

(157) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

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(160) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

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