Trout fishing water temperature under 50°
Finding the right trout fishing water temperature is not easy. So here some more info. If the surface water temperature is below 50° F., the trout will prefer to be where it is warmer.
At the time of year you would be likely to find under 50° water, this warmer water will probably be deep, because the air in the early spring, winter or late fall, when these temperatures prevail, will be colder than the water.
In water under 50°, fish deep with live bait, worms, minnows, salmon eggs in the West.
For pond fishing with live bait the trout fishing water temperature, either in this cold water range or in another set of warm water conditions that I’ll tell you about later, the most useful method is to drift across the good fishing places on a raft, or in a boat or canoe.
A raft will be less liable to scare the trout. You start on the side of the pond from which the wind is blowing, cast out your worms or minnow, let the bait sink until it is just off the bottom and then drift across the pond or lake.
Don’t use a sinker if you can avoid it; put a split shot on the leader if you find it necessary to bring the bait down near the bottom. The trick is to keep the bait as near the bottom as possible without getting snagged too often. Better to take chances on getting hung up and losing some leaders and hooks than to keep your bait too high—and not get fish.
Of course, like any live bait fishing, let the trout run with the bait a bit before you strike. 7 ft. to 9 ft. leaders, tapered to 1X, are about right. Dark colored ones are better for deep water.
Trout fishing water temperature from 50° to 55°
In water temperatures between 50° and 55°, you should find wet flies, streamers and bucktails, as well as a spinner-and-fly, very effective for trout in ponds and lakes. At this temperature trout are liable to range pretty well all over the pond or lake, but will not usually be feeding freely on the surface.
The action method of retrieve will take more fish in these conditions. Use the hand twist retrieve or the jerk retrieve according to the speed you need. It’s not a bad idea to experiment until you see which works the best that day, then use that method.
In still water the trout can see you a good -ways off, unless they are deep, so a fairly long cast is wise. Be sure your leader and fly are wet.
Trout fishing water temperature from 55° to 65°
In this range, you may get some very enjoyable dry fly fishing for trout, either Brooks, Rainbows or Cutthroats. Trout will very likely be cruising in shallow water. If so, they are able to see you a long way off. This means you must be very careful not to scare them. If you can locate cruising trout, cast about fifteen feet in front of them (sometimes you have to cast 25 feet ahead), just the way I told you about in fishing the still water at the lower ends of pools. You can use this strategy with either dry fly, wet fly or nymph.
Otikowi Lake, in the Glacier National Forest, Montana, furnishes splendid fly fishing of this type. Water temperatures in the summer run from 56° to 64°. The trout are hybrid Cutthroat-Rainbows, planted by the Fish and Wildlife Service for experimental purposes.
Speaking of experiments, the story of Lake Pend d’Orielle, Idaho, is sensational. This great lake had millions of Blueback salmon, the landlocked form of Sockeye salmon. The lake was so overpopulated with them that the average size of six or eight inches was steadily decreasing. Fishing in the lake was going downhill fast.
In 1942, the Fish Commission stocked this lake with 20,000 six inch Kamloops or Kootenay rainbows. This was the first time eggs of this variety of rainbow trout had been successfully hatched, reared and stocked in quantity.
Two years later, big Rainbows began to show up; in 1945, several fish over 20 pounds in weight were caught. Then on October 15, 1945, the world’s record Rainbow—31 pounds— was taken from Pend d’Orielle by Ed Driesbach. It was four and a half years old. As far as I have heard, this is the first time a world’s record fish was produced by a fish culturist’s experiment in natural conditions. This big trout took a spoon —trolled deep.
Trout fishing water temperature from 65° to 70°
In this bracket, trout in lakes or ponds will be down deep looking for cooler water. Spring holes and mouths of cooler inlet streams are good places, but any deep water that is cool may hold trout. In this condition, drifting live bait is the surest way to catch trout, though a wet fly fished deep will also take fish.
Fly casting for deep water trout in a pond or lake needs long casts with a wet line, leader and fly. Scrub the line and leader with mud if necessary to make it sink. After putting out fifty or sixty feet of line, let it sink to the bottom. That may take quite a while. Retrieve by the hand twist or short jerk method. A bucktail or streamer fly is fine for this work. Nymphs will sometimes do very well in lakes. Fish them by a sort of deep water twitch and rest retrieve. A spinner-and-fly or spinner-and-bait works nicely in these conditions.
There is a method of vertical trolling a bucktail that may get you Cutthroat or Rainbow in some of the deep rock-ledge Western mountain lakes which are either man-made or else have been caused by a natural land slide.
If you are fishing a mountain reservoir stocked with trout you can use this method, too. It is done from a raft, boat or canoe, just far enough off shore so you can clear the deep rock ledge that is typical of these locations.
Cast out a long line and let it sink clear down 30, 40 or even 50 feet, then retrieve it by a series of vertical upward pulls with the rod tip—each followed by a pause for the bucktail to sink back part way. The action can be rhythmic or erratic—or change about—as you prefer. This method often takes limit catches.
Again, although this is a fly casting book, I must mention that bait casting for big trout in lakes or ponds is a thoroughly good and sportsmanlike way to fish when the trout are staying deep. Small deep-running wobblers and wobbling spoons are good trout baits. A small-sized spinner-and-minnow or spinner-and-worm casting rig is extremely effective. A very light six foot, tournament type bait casting rod is ideal for this work.