Like many others, Steven Madray of Texas enjoys spending his spare time catching fish – it’s a break from the professional career, a stress reliever, and pleasurable hobby. Beginner or advanced, young or old, fishing is a past-time everyone can enjoy, and when it comes to catching trout in the off-season, it can be even more worthwhile. In the following article, Steven Madray explains how to catch shoulder-season trout, various equipment to use, and best spots along the river to drop a line.
Though the fall isn’t quite as ideal as the spring for trout fishing, it can still be an exciting time of the year to evaluate one’s mettle as an angler and hook some big fish before the water freezes, especially on a spinning rod. Below, Steven Madray dives into how anglers can increase their chances of catching more trout in rivers in the fall.
Fishing specific parts of the river that have slower-moving water or steep drop-offs using a medium-lightweight rod with jerkbaits, in-line spinners, or soft-plastic jigs are the best way to hook big trout throughout the season.
Choosing A Rod and Reel
Steven Madray says that the best chance of pulling in large numbers of big trout in the shoulder season starts with rod and reel selection. Steven Madray suggests something that is light enough to feel a bite, yet heavy enough to pull in a lunker without breaking the blank. Pairing the correct size reel is imperative, something that is light enough to accurately cast while still being able to hold enough line should the fish choose to make a swim for it.
Medium to lightweight rods provide the best balance between sensitivity and strength for this type of fishing. They are soft enough to feel finicky fish that nibble at the bait while providing enough backbone to not break during a fight with a larger specimen. These types of rods are the perfect combination according to Steven Madray.
The rod’s action and length also play a part in how effective they can be for trout; fishers will want a rod with a fast or moderate action to properly hook the fish without breaking the blank or line.
Longer rods can cast further, but they are harder to maneuver in tight cover with trees overhead, so aim for something in the range of 7-9 feet long.
Steven Madray says that bigger reels can hold more line, but they weigh the rod down and can make it harder to cast accurately, which is paramount when fishing rivers along heavily wooded banks.
2000-3000 sized reels work best with a medium-weight rod that will be using a 6-pound fluorocarbon line, fishers will still be able to cast their bait into the best areas of the river that hold the most fish and fluorocarbon lines are perfect low visibility lines that trout can’t see.
Best River Spots to Find Trout
Steven Madray says that trout like to congregate in areas of the river that are moving slowly because they can expend less energy to stay suspended, especially in the colder months when there is less natural bait in the water. These areas include inside turns, eddies, and sharp drop-offs.
Outside of the current, and inside the turns of an eddy is the most gentle flow of water. This is why a lot of fishermen cast in these areas – it’s where these fish like to hang out. Steep drop-offs in the river offer the same protection from fast-moving water, but more specifically they provide a transition zone which is prime territory for finding fish.
Best Lures for Fall Trout Fishing
The best lures for fall trout fishing are undoubtedly jerkbaits, soft plastics, and in-line spinners. This is because they most closely mimic the natural food sources in the river, this is what is known as matching the hatch.
Jerkbaits are so successful because anglers can cover a large area of water with them, especially the transition zones that trout like to congregate in. Jerkbaits are great for suspending in moving water while being retrieved. They can also be reeled in fast or slow depending on the speed the current is moving.
• Soft Plastics with Jigs
Soft plastics with jigheads are an excellent choice because trout feed more on aquatic bait like chubs and crawdads, which these jigs tend to look like. Fishers are most successful when they bounce the jighead off the bottom of the river, catching the eye of passing trout.
• In-Line Spinners
In-line spinners work well in the fall for the similar reasons, plus they are so good at catching sunlight to attract a fish’s attention. In-lines also have the added benefit of casting long distances and pulling through heavy cover where trout can hide.
The shoulder season can be just as lucrative for finding large trout within rivers as opening day, but the fishermen should modify their technique to match the season. Utilizing the right equipment, tackle, and technique, trout fishers can expect to catch vast amounts of fish until the river freezes over and ice fishing season commences.