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Early Season Live Bait Trout Rigging

Early spring trout fishing usually means bad weather, high water and sluggish fish. For that reason, when fishing live bait, I prefer to use a set-up that includes a ‘Lil Corky Float from Worden’s. These small, round floats are constructed of foam, with a durable, hard outer shell. They are available in a wide range of finishes. When placed just above the baited hook, the ‘Lil Corky helps to keep the bait in a natural drift just above the stream bed. This is important when the water is high and cold, and when trout are hugging the bottom - only moving inches within their feeding lanes.

The streams I fish in Pennsylvania are generally on the smaller side and can be difficult to navigate with a long rod. For this reason, I use an ultralight spinning rod in the 4’6” to 5’6” range. I recommend trying the St. Croix Trout Series or the Daiwa Spinmatic. I combo this with a small, 500-size ultralight reel, such as the Shimano Symetre FL or the 20-size Pflueger Trion. I spool up with 6.6 lb. test DAM Tectan Superior Monofilament Line. This line is the same diameter as 4 lb. test Berkley Trilene XL, which also works great.

To rig, I slide a 'Lil Corky Float in size 10 on the line in a bright color. I then tie on a Matzuo Model 140 Sickle Baitholder Hook in size 8 and slide the float to the hook eye. Then I place a Water Gremlin Removable Split Shot in size 3/0 about eight inches above the hook. With a half crawler, this is the set-up I start out with on opening day of trout season. The ‘Lil Corky keeps the bait just above the bottom and allows you to feel the “tic-tic” of the split shot bouncing along.

As weather and water conditions change, I will change the size of the split shot, ‘Lil Corky, hook and bait. If the water begins to clear and flow rates lower, I often change to a smaller size BB split shot and size 12 float. Try the ‘Lil Corky in more subtle colors as the water clears.

This rig works and will catch you more trout. As an added bonus, this set-up tends to hook trout in the corner of the mouth, allowing you to practice catch and release if desired.

It’s important to note that this rig might not be legal in your area or the stream you fish. Some states restrict the use of lead shot, some restrict the use of floats or beads in between the hook and weight or sinker. Be sure to check your local regulations.

FishUSA Staff,
Jay Prazer

Achieving Different Actions with Your Lures

So many times I hear anglers say, “I need to buy lures that have a tighter wobble.” Or, “I need a lure that has a more erratic action.”

Since I was a child, I’ve always tinkered with lures to make them run exactly how I want. Sometimes I destroy the lure, but I gain valuable information that’s helped me in my professional fishing career. We all know why we need different lure actions for certain situations, but it’s not commonly known that we can achieve this by simply making minor changes to our baits.

The easiest way to change the action of your lure is to either remove a hook or add a larger hook. If you have a lure that has three hooks, like the Renosky Crystalina Shallow Diver, you can remove the front hook closest to the head of the bait to achieve a wider, more erratic action. If you are looking to achieve a tighter wobble, simply try adding larger hooks.

These little tricks don’t work with all baits as some are very sensitive to the number and size of hooks. But, give it a shot. You may find that you can have a number of lures built into one.

Tight Lines,

Capt. Doug Straub

FishUSA Staff

Kayak Fishing

It is kayak fishing season! Well, it seems that way as summer starts and more anglers are starting to explore kayak fishing. Kayak fishing is great for adventurous anglers or for those who want to get out on the water, but cannot afford a larger boat. Kayaks give anglers the ability to access smaller and shallower fishing areas and to reach places that bigger boats or even shore anglers cannot reach. Plus, there's the added More...

Walleye Prep Work

In a normal year I would be panicking that my new boat hasn’t arrived and in a mad rush to get it all rigged, instead I’m fishing over nearly two feet of ice. For those that don’t ice fish or need a little break from the weather, March is a perfect time to make sure you have yourself and gear ready when the weather breaks. For me this is an extremely important process, since many of these tasks can take enough time that you don’t want to undertake them all at once or when the fish are biting.

Checking planer board release pads - Pads can get worn or cut up and can do serious More...

Rattle Bait Walleyes

As a full time professional angler I am often told I think outside the box. Ironically this large amount of time that we spend fishing also makes us rely on things that we know work and often cuts down on experimentation if we let it. Rattle baits through the ice for walleyes and even pike, crappies and perch has been a very successful tactic for several years. Nearly every manufacture now has a bait that can be used for the hard water.

Last winter myself and several of the Ice Team and Clam National Pro Team huddled around a custom built tank that was designed specifically to test new lures. We looked like a bunch of kids in a candy store. We all wanted a rattle style lure because of their effectiveness at not only catching aggressive fish, but for their ability to draw fish in to your hole. Their effectiveness on large Canadian Shield lakes and lake Winnipeg in particular was known, but most felt that they would work on other bodies of water across the US. After about 20 versions were sorted through you now have what Clam calls the Psycho Shad. This lure, unlike most that were open water lipless cranks, was designed More...

Angling Motivations

Have you ever thought to yourself, what motivates me to spend countless hours on a stream, lake, or river? Is it the time spent with friends and family? Is it the aesthetics? Is it the surprise of a float disappearing under the water? There is always a motivation that drives anglers to have a passion for fishing, and more often than not, there are multiple motivations.

The first motivation that comes to mind, is time spent with others. Some of our best angling excursions are spent with friends and family. We sometimes take for granted the valuable times More...

Between the Hatches

Have you ever seen somebody on the stream with their fly rod held high? Do you wonder what they are doing in the middle of the stream? They are performing the art of high sticking also known as short line nymphing. This type of fishing will often out produce other techniques. Some of my best days on the streams occur when I am high sticking. It is a great skill to learn for use when there is no hatch present.

The preferred rod for high sticking is a 9ft long rod with a fast action. A fast action provides greater feel as the line moves along the bottom. The longer length rod allows you to keep as much line off the water as possible as this will cause drag. People have been known to use rods as long as 12 feet in order to obtain a longer reach and More...

Selecting an Inline Planer Board

Inline planer boards were invented years ago, but their popularity has blossomed over the past decade. While most popular on “big water” they have found use nearly anywhere anglers troll. As their popularity grew, many manufacturers started producing them, and now there are plenty of models for the angler to choose from.

Inline boards are designed to take the trolled lure to the side of the boat where the lure can be presented to fish that have not been spooked by the boat. Planer boards also allow anglers to troll many more lines without tangling. While most inline planer boards are very versatile, some are particularly useful in certain situations.

For fishing inland lakes with fairly light lures for smaller fish; mini boards such as the Church TX-12 are excellent. They do not pull as hard as the larger boards and allow the angler to use lighter rods as well. Although these boards More...

Take a Kid Fishing…Angling with Children

If you are reading this you are most likely an angler. When you started your fishing career, there was probably someone who started you in the outdoors. In many cases it may be your father, but often it could be your mother, uncle or neighbor. To keep the angling tradition alive, we must pass the torch to younger anglers.

Many anglers, even experienced ones, are unsure about taking youngsters fishing. Below are some tips for family fishing.

  • Select a pond, small lake or slow moving stream with a good supply of bluegill, sunfish, small bass or even chubs and suckers. Lots of fish beats big fish when you are six. Avoid fast moving rivers and streams as well as steep banked lakes. This will make your trip much safer.
  • Go for short periods of time. Often a three year old will fish for thirty minutes and be ready to chase frogs and throw rocks. As children get older, their attention More...

Twelve Months of Lake Erie, PA

Pennsylvania has approximately 45 miles of shoreline on Lake Erie. North of the city of Erie, 5000+ acre Presque Isle Bay is formed by a peninsula that is connected to the main lake by a narrow channel. The open waters and Presque Isle Bay are very different in habitat and species of fish. This allows a wide variety of angling opportunities throughout the year. Presque Isle Bay also offers sheltered water to fish in case of rough water on the main lake. Below are some “hot bites” that occur yearly.

January - Depending on the weather, fishing at the beginning of a new year can be a hard or soft water sport. If the weather is mild, fishing the tributaries or nearshore areas for steelhead can be excellent. In colder years, ice fishing begins this month, starting with “protected” waters like Horseshoe Pond, Misery Bay and Marina Bay. Early ice provides some of the best angling of the season, with crappie, bluegill, perch and steelhead.

February - By the beginning of the month, Presque Isle Bay usually has a fairly thick layer of ice. Fishing is usually slower as Winter doldrums take over, but fish are still caught. The stream mouths provide additional opportunities for steelies through the ice if the proper conditions are present. In warm years, fishing More...