Saturday, March 17, 2012

Trout Prep: Tips for New Jersey Trout Opening Day Fishing

Every early spring a special overlay of subtle excitement conditions my responses at times to the new season. It's not that I get the trout Opening Day jitters in my middle age (as young as I do feel inside) like I did as a boy and in my teens, but I'm reminded of them, and feel something of them from time to time. The birthing season just cannot convince me that the trout are just hatchery fish as if they have no value. The busting through of skunk cabbage and the yellow explosion of forsythia among hundreds of other green variations poking through is as real and wild as the dawn of the planet (even though forsythia is a quasi-domestic plant).

If the order stays the same this year, brookies will be first. They do take salmon eggs, but it's a good idea to bring two rods, one rigged for eggs with two pound test, a small snap, and two leaders with size 14 snelled hooks, the other with four pound test and the tiniest sinking Rapala, about an inch long. Particularly the large trout, if any present, will strike the plug. Try a two or two and a half inch size for the big one also. Another trick--live line a medium shiner using four pound test and a plain shank, size six hook, no weight unless it's a very deep hole.

Salmon eggs are expensive. So if you can find a shop that sells eggs from last year for a buck a jar as Lebanon Bait and Sport did last year and may be doing the same now, harden them up with just a pinch of salt on top. Add too much salt and the entire jar's worth will be ruined; I've done it before.

If water is slightly off color, use bright eggs. Otherwise, the usual dull colors all work.

You still have time as of this date to buy Loon Wader Repair UV light reacting polymer for your wader seams from Cabelas. If you are confident the waders are water tight, bring along a tube of this wet application that cures completely in seconds in bright sunlight, even on wet waders, just in case some subtle incident breaches them. Just make sure you don't expose the open end of the tube to sunlight. I use my hand to shade it as I apply. Most situations require only hip boots, but the breathable chest waders are so easy to wear that I don't waste money on boots besides.

Buy an inexpensive cloth creel perhaps, and attach your fishing license and trout stamp by a standard license pin holder to it instead of poking holes in clothing, unless you have already poked holes through a fishing vest to accomodate the game warden.

Holding my breath, but it looks like this year water conditions will be low and clear, temperatures very mild. I wish the state would stock rainbows to begin the season so that I could have full confidence in salmon eggs as I used to, catching perhaps 30 rainbows by early afternoon. But after many years of stocking rainbows for Opening Day, the state got the logic: brookies are the coldest water trout (actually char), rainbows are second to brookies, and browns tolerate the warmest and begin to get stocked in early May.

Get to your chosen starting spot early, a full hour before 8:00 a.m. That's the ritual, standing in the stream for an hour doing nothing but anticipating the hour ahead and conversing offhand with others doing the same. It's never been a difficult exercise to get through.

I will post a piece specifically dealing with fishing salmon eggs on Litton's Fishing Lines, my other blog, link below the photo.


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