To outsmart them, you must know where they live, how they move and how they think.
Angling writer Tiny Bennett has been learning — and matching — their tricks for forty years. Here’s his strategy for beating five of the best.
1 The rainbow trout delights in fast water. So you should seek him in the slick riffles above and below dams and rapids. In these places, in water sometimes so shallow it barely covers their backs, these beautiful scarlet-streaked trout hang in almost suspended motion — waiting to hit your fly, sack of spawn, worm, or best of all, a bright gold or silver spinner that can be tapped across the stony bottom. You must fish the bait deep, tap-tap-tapping across the bottom, using an upstream cast and a fast retrieve that allows the spinner to touch but keeps it from
being snagged between rocks on the stream bed. Recorded to 52 pounds, stream rainbows average one pound, though the inland migratory fish often reach 10. In their native waters on the Pacific slopes, sea-run rainbows called steelheads run well over 20 pounds. Rainbows are found in every province, in brooks and rivers, lakes and in great waters where they provide an inland form of steelhead fishing. But large fish or small, big water or little, you will catch more fish by keeping your lure right down along the bright water-washed stones on the bed of the stream.
The pike is an efficient predator and you must fish for him with big livebaits, big spoons and the largest of plugs. The best of baits to tempt this fastest of freshwater species is a dead fish of two or three pounds. You mount it with three ganghooks and allow it to wallow along behind a drifting boat.
As streamlined as the spear that gives them their name, pike, sometimes called jackfish and great northerns, attack from ambush, lancing out from weedbed, shoal or sunken tree. Then, swimming easily behind your lure, the fish arcs into a curve and, using the drive power of a massive tail and rear fins, whips forward in a blur of motion and a side deflection that brings it out and in to grab the lure or bait broadside on. With both eyes facing forward, pike can judge distance and, although they are often attracted to baitfish or prey by struggle-vibrations, the final attack is always by sight. So fish for them with your largest baits in the brightest water, close to the reedbeds or wooded shoreline that gives them cover.
With spinning outfit rigged and a deep-diving plug attached to the steel-wire leader, you scan the waters for the best place to fish. For though the yellow walleye is a popular game fish, it is not very bright. So the most important part of catching it is to locate where the schools of fish are feeding.
Walleye are regulated in habits by light-sensitive eyes, and in bright periods they feed in deep places by reefs and off the ends of islands. At night and under lowering skies you fish for them in the shallows.
Walleye, which reach 25 pounds, are schooling predators related to perch. Like perch they attack from behind, snapping with sharp teeth at the tails of their prey, to slow them down.
In bright sunshine you ease your boat past the end of an island, your deep-trolled plug bumbling slowly along, just touching the smooth rocky bottom. You get a hit. Over goes the anchor. You have found the school; now you can cast and catch them one öfter the other. ^
It is the hour after dusk. Downstream from where you are hidden on the bank, a big brown trout is rising to sip in a floating hatch of insects. This is the big cannibal of the creek; on some days it will eat almost its own weight in other trout. To attract it, you tie the largest fuzzy white moth in your box on to your toughest fly outfit. Shaded by the dark from the watchful sight of this shy and cunning fish, you cast across and downstream and feed line to drift the artificial fly down to the deep hole under the roadbridge. The brown trout, a tough immigrant from Europe, has been planted in lakes and rivers throughout Canada, but you will find the best sport in the smaller streams, in holes under banks and bridges. Some people fish for them with big dew worms, live baitfish, or even small live rodents. But the brown is the true quarry of the fly fisherman — for no matter how big the trout may grow they never cease to feed on insects. There is a gentle splash as the fish takes the moth. The pull comes, you set the hook and give battle.
To catch lake trout, you must troll lures along the bottom of some of the deeper parts of some of Canada’s larger lakes. For the lake trout, also called Mackinaw trout, grey trout and togue, is a deep-dwelling species married to a chill environment.
Basic gear, then, is heavy — a powerful rod and reel matched to the weight of solid-metal line that provides the weight to send a big vibrating metal spoon lure down to run along the bottom in as much as 100 feet of water. You troll for this fish, known to exceed 100 pounds in weight, using large spoons that kick up sonic vibrations and draw the trout in its dark half-world. Attracted first by struggle-vibrations, lake trout use their acute sense of smell as the final trigger for attack. You should always add the head of a dead minnow to the shank of the lure’s hook. And if you want good fish, you must fish deep and on the bottom. □
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