By Captain Steve Soule’
I know, I know the title sounds like we’re about to dive into philosophical dissertation of what makes a perfect day on the water. In all honesty though understanding these three elements and their effects may just be some of your best ammunition when it comes to scoring big with trout. Learning how these three elements effect your personal fishing can vary greatly with location to location and answering the questions of what the outcome will be from variances in their timing are revelations that come only with time and patient observation. This month has been just like many that preceded it over the last few years, when the 15th rolled around I realized that I was late for my deadline and still struggling to figure out what to write. Well as I forced a little thinking time into my schedule I thought about just how much I tend to babble at seminars and on the water about these factors and their relation to trout fishing and how they vary from day to day. I’ve been aware for a long time that under constraints of short time and in passing conversation, most people probably don’t pick up on the subtle nuances that I’m so notorious for rambling about. This may be no different but here are some brief descriptions that I hope can help to define and narrow some behavioral patterns that I see in relation to these factors.
Since I stated sun first in the title I work it first. Sunlight comes in varying degrees not only from day to day but from minute to minute. First of all, the amount of sunlight versus cloud cover seems to play a major role in the feeding behavior. Some day’s lots of direct sunlight can work well; this is often a situation for chrome colored top-waters to excel. On some other days heavy cloud cover can be the ticket, this often works during the dog days of late summer. Full cloud cover often dictates the use of darker colors such as black or the “808” color scheme of black back orange belly and gold sides. My favorite sunlight condition is bright sun mixed with scattered clouds; I guess its kind of the best of both worlds. There is another degree of light that is also effective though it may not be solely due to the light but also the reduced noise, yes I’m talking about night fishing and no I’m not going to say anything more than “it’s not for the faith of heart”. Oh, I better not forget the first and last light periods of the day. Most anglers know the sunrise as one of the best bites of the day but many never see the sunset because someone told them that they had to get up early and fish early to catch big trout. Don’t limit yourself to just early in the day, sunsets frequently bring out monster bites from monster trout.
Wind is next, I’ve babbled about wind endlessly, typically though it’s a profane uttering, while getting battered by high winds during someone’s twisted idea of a good day for a tournament. Though I really enjoy fishing on light wind days, slick calm can spell disaster at times. Big winds may not be the most anglers idea of good conditions but fear not, fish still east when it’s windy. Big wind is the RIGHT time to throw big noisy top-waters, you may find yourself compelled to work the plug harder in the wind but some days it’s better to just let the plug do the work. HUH,?? Yes let it work, that big rattle is there for a reason and it still makes noise when you let it float. Light winds will often dictate the use of smaller top-water lures where you can still use aggressive retrieves without spooking the fish so bad. If I had to choose the wind conditions that I like best I would again take the middle, with moderate winds of 8-15 mph. I’ve smoked big fish in big winds but it’s always a frustrating situation. Light winds let you see everything but the fish often get to spooky.
Ah, the moon. I’m sure you’re all expecting me to get into this night fishing thing, okay I’ll give a little but let’s talk about the moons’ effect on daytime fishing. There are the basic well-known thoughts that a big moon brings a big night feed and the new or small moon is better for daytime feeding. As a general rule this holds fairly well, but there are a few notable variances to remember. The full moon isn’t always directly over head at night so the moon position is a big factor. I’ve had some great trips where the full moon was setting or rising within a few hours of sunrise or sunset. On the full moon, phase we also see a good mid day bite when the moon goes directly under. When the new moon rolls around we all expect better daytime fishing and we usually get it. I still pay a particular attention to the moon position; rising, setting, directly over or under. If you are a night owl looking for perfect trout situation try one of these two, a full moon period with scattered to heavy cloud cover or a new moon at anytime.
It’s always good to remember that trout are ambush feeders and they need any advantage that they can get. I like varying degrees of light whether I’m fishing during the day or at nighttime because the light allows the fish to spot their prey and once “homed in” they can attach as the light becomes filtered by the clouds. Since I mentioned night fishing I feel strongly that I should also mention the most important thing about doing it, safety. If you plan to fish at night you better plan on taking ALL necessary safety precautions and operating your boat only in areas that you are familiar with at slow and safe speeds.
That’s all for this month, better be, it’s 10:00 on Saturday night and I’ve got a “West End Anglers” tournament to wake up for at 03:30 in the morning. See you on the water, safely and courteously I hope!!