Tag Archives: Trout

Back to Basics: Inshore Tackle

Inshore saltwater kayak fishing is one of the most popular means of fishing for a large percentage of the kayaking community. The ease of access, relatively safe waters, and challenging fishing draws thousands of anglers to chase inshore species every year. But while planning an inshore kayak fishing trip with a few friends a couple of weeks ago, a buddy asked me, “What should I bring?”

For those inexperienced with inshore fishing, the choice of tackle can be daunting. Aside from the obvious of live/dead bait, a beginner is faced with hundreds of options of artificial hard or soft baits, colors, shapes, sizes, etc. So I tore apart my tackle box and whittled my plethora of choices down to just a few options that I deem essential for an inshore fisherman’s collection.

Swim/Paddle Tails

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

Used in combination with a small jig head, these soft plastics catch just about everything that swims around inshore waters. The rate of “wiggle” that the swim tail has depends solely on how fast the retrieve is. These are great for bottom bouncing to chase things like flounder and redfish, but can also be pulled in quicker and higher in the water column to entice trout and snook. Just remember to always bring extras. Toothy guys like mangrove snappers have a nasty habit of biting off the swim tail.

Weedless Jerk Shad

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

One of the biggest issues with inshore fishing is obstructions. Mangrove roots, oyster bars, docks, weeds, trees, etc. You name it, you’re probably going to get hung up on it it. And unfortunately that’s where most of the fish like to hang out, so you’ll find yourself casting near these things constantly. This is where weedless setups shine. Using wide gap worm hooks, an angler can easily make use of these weedless setups. Generally speaking, the soft plastic itself is heavy enough to cast, but if you’re trying to reach deeper water, or bottom bounce, a simple bullet weight can change how these are used. Twitch them occasionally for a mid-water column effect or very quickly to simulate something topwater. Set the hook pretty hard with these setups as you need to obviously expose the hook for it to work. 

Shrimp Imitations

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

Baits like DOA shrimp and similar are absolutely dynamite when it comes to inshore species. Their design also means that the hook is almost always faced upwards, which limits the amount of snagging that occurs with the bottom. They are unfortunately somewhat expensive when compared to other options, but I’ve encountered numerous instances where it’s the only thing fish will hit. Slow twitching works great, and sometimes all it takes is letting the bait drift down current for a fish to pick it up. It isn’t uncommon at all for fish to hit the shrimp immediately after it hitting the water, so don’t be surprised if you reel in the slack to find a fish on the end already.

Spinner Baits/Buzz Baits 

To many, this may seem like an oddball choice. Spinner baits and buzz baits are generally used by freshwater fisherman after bass. But in case you haven’t heard, redfish absolutely love them. They’re somewhat difficult to use since they aren’t weedless and require a bit of depth to the water, but since many inshore spots have poor water clarity, the vibrations of the blade attract fish. High tide and oyster bars are when I break out the spinner baits, and I’m rarely disappointed in their results.

red fish

This red fell victim to a spinner bait. [Image: Alex Vail]

Topwaters

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

As far as excitement goes, topwaters take the grand prize. There’s few things in life more exciting than watching your surface plug get annihilated by a fish from below. There are several options when it comes to these, but I almost always go with a lure that does the “walk the dog” action. These simulate a wounded baitfish on the surface and have an advantage over subsurface lures in that they rarely get caught on anything. The simple fact that they float means that glide right over the top of anything below, meaning they rarely foul. Use these early morning and late evening when it’s rather dark outside.

Popping Corks

Image: Alex Vail

Image: Alex Vail

The final piece of tackle I wouldn’t leave home without is the popping cork. Generally used when fishing with live or dead bait, a popping cork rig shouldn’t be overlooked when considering artificials either. Previously mentioned baits like swim tails, shrimp imitations, and jerk shad can easily be tied underneath a popping cork and used effectively. The nice thing about these is that the cork actually keeps the lure suspended and off the bottom. Tie a one to two foot piece of mono or fluorocarbon underneath the popper and then attach the bait. The quick popping action works the lure below and keeps it suspended. And in instances where a fish strikes, it’s immediately noticeable as the cork disappears below.

snook

Snook that fell for a DOA under a popping cork. [Image: Alex Vail]

So if you’re just getting into inshore fishing and trying to sort out the tackle box, consider giving these a try. One or the other, or a combination of them, all is bound to eventually work. Trout, reds, flounder, snook, and more are options for inshore kayak fishermen. With the right amount of patience, equipment, and luck, inshore kayak fishing can be one of the most productive ways to fish. Tight lines!

Five Tips to Catching More Fall Trout

Contributed by Austin Orr of Salt 396

My fly hit the water with a soft splat near the far bank. I waited a moment, then began twitching the minnow imitation along, as much like an actual injured fish as possible. Suddenly, a flash; my line came tight and a strong fish surged downriver! After a stiff battle, I held a handsome male brown trout, known as a ‘buck’, in my hand. A quick stretch of the measuring tape put him at 22 inches, a great fish by anyone’s standard.

Alight with Fall breeding color, the fish sported iridescent blues on his cheeks, with buttery gold flanks and black speckling. His wicked kype signaled that the time for spawning was near. As he swam off, I took a deep breath and smiled as I looked down the river bank at the beautiful patchwork of leaves. Ah yes – I love Fall fishing.

Hands holding Brown Streamer

Image: www.moldychum.com

During the Fall months, trout are especially geared up to eat; after all, winter is coming. The biggest fish of the year are often caught during September, October and November. Take advantage of this excellent window of opportunity by following these simple tips for success.

5 Tips to Catch More Fall Trout

1. Show up early and stay late.

It’s no secret that trout, especially large trout, are most active during periods of low light. They are excellent predators and prefer to spend as little energy as possible catching their meals. Big trout like eating meat – minnows and young trout are staples on their menu. By being active during low light conditions, they can get closer to prey which gives the trout a better shot at a meal. Make sure that you’re on the water when the action is going down. That often means arriving and leaving in the pitch black, but when that big trout slams your fly, the extra time is worth it.

2. Don’t be scared to throw big.

With the hard times of winter breathing down their neck, Fall trout of all sizes are hunting whatever they can fit in their mouth. This is when I recommend breaking out the big guns – flies that sometimes seem as big as stocker rainbows. From a fly fisherman’s perspective, large flies are a catch-22. They’re easier to see and tie on than the tiny bug imitations we sometimes use, but casting large streamers can be a real pain in the neck. Literally. You don’t have to go crazy, though. Throwing streamers as big as the baitfish that live in the body of water you’re fishing is a great start.

Streamer trout-Fall trout

Image: www.rsmflyfishingdelaware.blogspot.com

3. Try speeding up your retrieve.

Due to the enhanced predatory nature of trout during the Fall, fishermen are often able to provoke more reaction strikes this time of year. Fishing flies on the swing (casting cross-current and letting the moving water drag the fly down and across the flow) is a popular way to trigger these fish to bite, as is casting across or upstream and stripping quickly back. It’s not a magic technique, but putting some zip in your strip can trigger strikes when nothing else is working.

4. Work smarter than the other guys

This time of year there are plenty of fishermen on the river, at least until the major hunting seasons start up. You may feel like all the water has been trampled, but with careful observation, you will start to notice water that the other guys consistently pass up. For instance, even in high traffic areas, swift riffle water often hold trout that most people skip over. Think outside the box; everyone wants to fish the deep pools and most obvious lies, but there are plenty of fish to be had in between the popular wades.

5. Don’t tread on them, please.

This last tip isn’t so much about catching Fall trout as it is about making sure that there are plenty of trout to catch in the years to come. Fall means spawning time for brown trout, and it can be easy to find pairs of big, tempting fish hanging out in plain sight in the shallows. During this time, the female scoops out her nest, called a “redd” (Scottish for “basket”), and a male will usually join her. During this time they will ignore food and the only way to catch spawners is by snagging them, whether intentionally or not. Please keep this in mind and don’t harass these fish; they’re in the middle of making more trout for you to catch. Anyway, how would you like it if someone disturbed you like that! The redds need protection too; they’re easy to see, plate sized or larger patches of different colored gravel that’s been scooped out. Eggs are deposited in the redds, and a single human footstep could crush dozens of the embryonic trout. Just watch your step as you move down the river, which of course you should be doing anyway. The local fly shops will know when trout are spawning, and will probably be able to tell you areas where you’re likely to encounter the amorous fish so you can plan accordingly to avoid them.

Stream with log

Image: onlinefishinglog.com/images/blog/redds/slide-7_bull-trout-redd.jpg