The unofficial water temp for the true beginning of topwater season is 60F, but 65F is when they really turn on. Whether or not this is because the water temp is when the bait fills in or just that the fish are fired up is a subject to debate. At any rate, we have been above 65F for a week now and the bite is definitely on fire. Ralph and I launched midweek last week after I committed the cardinal sin amongst topwater fishermen…I overslept my alarm and despite my best efforts I was still about 20 min too late to the landing.
We early morning pluggers know that ever minute is precious. You have about 45 min of twilight before the sun rises and then till the sun gets about 10 deg above the treeline until the action slows or stops. A younger Ralph would have (rightfully so) left my sorry-ass at the landing, but present-day Ralph is much more understanding.
Lucky for both of us, this day was overcast for most of the morning, and we enjoyed a fast and furious topwater bite for a few hours. Our experience (and later backed up by my fellow big trout junky Justin Carter) was that the fish were super-aggressive and were knocking the plug out of the water or making a huge splash. But, they were pretty difficult to get a hook in. Now, if you try to set the hook on a topwater strike, you’re gonna miss most of your fish. But we know better than that. Just wait till you feel the line tighten before you come tight. Even still, whether or not you come tight is a crap shoot sometimes. For me, my odds were pretty terrible, maybe 2 for 8 on the landed to strike ratio. Ralph was considerably better, maybe 60% landed. It’s better to get a blow up and miss than no blowups at all though.
The fish were all quality – 16-19″ on average. No big girls today but that’s okay, big trout are unicorns.
Our choice of plug was one that has worked wonders for us in the past few years, the Rapala Skitter V. If you haven’t tried them, you should. There are also lots of p-nut menhaden around and a Mirrolure Heavy Dine is a great choice. If you really want the extra sauce, put one of these on your topwater or suspending plug.
Another thing you’ll notice when you catch a trout right now, is that they fight like a fish twice their size. They are getting ready to fatten up to spawn, and have spring fever!
Please consider releasing all trout over 20″ to pass on the survivor genes, and especially the big girls fat with eggs. Let em spawn!