Overcome Tricky Spring Trout Fishing

man holding brookie while spring trout fishing on Black Lake
Colorful brook trout are often sought by anglers while spring trout fishing on Black Lake.

Early Spring Trout Fishing in the North Country

Location, location, location is the old real estate saying.  However, it’s the same for early spring trout.  You will more than likely be fishing for trout that just went through a long winter and are just starting to wake up.  Cold water means lethargic fish.  They are not going to be chasing down spinners that are retrieved fast through moving water.

Cold Water Temperatures

Unless we had an early and warm spring, the fish will be in the same places where they spent the winter when you head out for some early spring trout fishing.  Deep pools, undercut banks and big eddies (an eddy is a part of the river where the current has to go around an obstruction and the water is calm behind the obstruction) are all great places to start looking. When the water is cold, fish don’t require large amounts of food.  They also don’t want to expend a lot of energy to feed.  So look for areas where water flows past and into deeper pools which will carry bait to waiting fish.

Higher Water Levels

If you’re fishing big rivers this means that you need to be able to break down the river into likely holding spots and get your offering to the trout.  Spring trout fishing on big rivers can be challenging.  The water is going to be higher and swifter than normal.  Not only does that make presenting bait more difficult, but wading can also be hazardous with the high, cold water conditions.

Tiny Tributaries for Spring Brook Trout Fishing

My early season passion is finding tiny tributaries that hold native brook trout.  Many of the places that I fish at this time of year are in my deer and turkey hunting areas. It’s the best of all worlds. I can try my hand at spring brook trout fishing, scout for turkeys and hunt for sheds all at the same time!

Off the Beaten Path

stream during early season trout fishing
Part of the lure of spring trout fishing is the waters they inhabit.

Take a look at a map, the area between Lake Ontario and Tug Hill is littered with tiny streams.  There are many hidden gems out there that very few people trying their hand at early spring trout fishing know about.  You just need to get out and start doing some walking to find the perfect spring brook trout fishing spots.

Presentation Matters

Regardless of whether you are early spring trout fishing big water or tiny streams you need to get your offering to the fish.  When presenting your bait/lure/fly, low and slow is the way to go.  You want to get your offering on the bottom and moving as slowly as possible. 

Fishing Rods, Hooks, and Line

This is the time of year that I more than likely will grab an ultralight spinning rod when considering my options for trout fishing rods.  Put a small hook (size 10-12) on it and head out “Huck Finn” style.  When fishing smaller streams I rarely put weight on the line, opting to let the worm drift naturally.  If you’re fishing larger, swollen waters you will likely have to put some weight on to slow down your drift.

Flies for Trout Fishing

If you’re fishing with a fly-rod, bead head nymphs are my fly of choice of flies for trout fishing this time of year.  Many times when on tiny streams I need to do a “slingshot” cast in order to cast around the vegetation, but it can be done. 

On larger rivers I prefer to fish the afternoon on sunny days. The sun will warm the water a degree or two and make the fish a little more active.  On big rivers with high water it can be extremely difficult to control your drift.  Usually there are several different currents going in different directions.  This is the time of year when you want to use a sinking or sink tip line.  If you don’t have that you can also tie on a longer leader.  The swirling water at the surface will tug your floating line in many different directions.  But with a longer leader that you’re constant mending you will be less apt to spook fish.

Finally, you may choose to fish spinners or spoons. Many fly anglers have for years have been very successful with Phoebes ™ on local waters. Small spinners can also be used. Just remember to slow down your offerings and get it into fish holding areas.  Ripping a spinner across a rapid in April is probably going to produce few if any fish – remember that when you are choosing your flies for trout fishing this spring.

Get Ready for an Adventure

For a great adventure, pick up a map and randomly choose two or three streams to explore this spring.  You can’t be disappointed!  Even if you don’t have a hit you’ll be able to spend a few hours exploring some of the most picturesque woods that our area has to offer.  You might even find a magical land where the fish are all fat and have never seen a hook.  You won’t know if you don’t go early spring trout fishing. 

Original Article By Scott Locorini

About The Author

Scott Locorini has been a guide and paddle sports instructor for 20 years. He owns and operates Adirondack Exposure and Black River Valley Outdoors based in Old Forge, NY and Lyons Falls, NY. Stop by the Adirondack Exposure store in Old Forge for your kayak fishing needs and installations, and check out their website at www.adirondackexposure.com

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