December 04, 2016

Seasons On The Stream

Wisconsin small stream trout season opens the first Saturday of January yearly now.  It is an artificial only and catch and release only season through to the first Saturday in May. The May season opens to some harvest and use of live bait.  You must check the complex regulations these days to make sure you are legal.  That season ends on October 15th.

 Late summer view of hole. Vegetation high.


A well prepared angler varies their approaches to fishing with the seasons.  Trout hold in differing areas during different times of the year.  Some of the reasons for the differences is energy consumption and a gambit of other seasonal causes.

This angler was wading a little too aggressively and more than likely spooked the entire hole.

Alpha trout or the biggest will be at the head of the feed lane.  It may be in the fast broken water.  Subordinates or smaller trout will be all over hole, but not close to alpha. Cast into top most part of fast funnel. The alpha will be waiting part way down the skinny feed funnel. It is  best to hit fast water with your lure to hide the splash. When wading, wake control a large factor here. A wake sent upstream in a waterway is very unnatural. It is like shouting danger to the trout.  Stay out of water if you can.  Make your first cast count or you will get only small ones in this hole.

 A spring side view of the head of the hole.

With no weeds in the water and no leaves on the trees the trout feel exposed during winter fishing and are even more shy.

Bigger trout from the area are wintering at the bottom of the slow water near the fast water.  Not in fast water.  It requires too much energy spent to hold in fast water in cold water conditions.   Subordinate or smaller trout are chased out of the hole by bigger trout. It is best to hit the fast water to hide the splash. Cast into the  top of the feed funnel and make a slow retrieve so the presentation will get down to trout sitting on bottom just back from the end of the fast water. Use a larger fly/lure because trout prefer steak over salad during cold water conditions. Make sure to cast upstream a ways so you are not slapping the fly/lure right down on top of their heads.

 Trout are extra wary on sunny no vegetation winter outing. There are no leaves on the trees so more sunlight gets to the bottom and magnifies the trout's wariness. Trout have no eyelids and are hypersensitive to sun.  Don't slap the hole with line when casting.  Stay out of the water when attacking the hole. It will be a one fish "only" hole due to water clarity and zero vegetation in hole.  Any smart fish will spook when one is battled and drug through this clear non-vegetated hole.

This advice can be ignored when targeting brook trout.  They lack the savvy and instinctual wiles of a brown trout.  I have caught 30 brookies in one hole without stepping forward or back.

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