April 1 was when this went to pen, and although its days later that you’re reading this, my chest waders and rainbow trout fishing gear is still waiting patiently in the corner of my office to be used.
I have to say I’m ready. I have cabin fever and am anticipating getting out onto some of my favourite trout streams and some of my speckled trout lakes.
It’s always that last few weeks when you have to stay off the lakes (because of the melt) and the rivers and streams are just not quite ready to go. There is that lull that has to be filled with something in the outdoors and after a long snow-filled winter I can’t wait to land a few trout.
Rainbow trout, also known as steelhead, will traditionally migrate into the local rivers and creeks to spawn, and this normally occurs when the ice is broken up and decent current and water levels allow these colourful fish to make their way upstream.
Of course this will lure many trout anglers to the banks of these waterways and I for one will be out there with the rest of them.
The rainbow trout is one of the most widely introduced fish on a world basis. Its native range was the eastern Pacific Ocean and the freshwaters west of the Rocky Mountains, from northwest Mexico to Alaska. In Canada, rainbow trout are found across the country from British Columbia to the Avalon Peninsula of Newfoundland, across the southern portions of the provinces from Nova Scotia to Ontario, north to central Manitoba, northern Alberta and in the Yukon.
The rainbow trout is a member of the salmon family and is strong in numbers in the Great Lakes and in particular right here in our local waters. Not only can they be caught in streams in the spring but also in the summer out in the big lake while eager salmon and lake trout anglers are downrigging.
The usual spawning site chosen for rainbows in rivers is a bed of fine gravel in a riffle above a pool. The female digs a nest in the gravel by turning on her side and beating her tail up and down. During spawning, the eggs fall into spaces between the gravel and immediately the female begins digging at the upstream edge of the nest covering the eggs with the displaced gravel.
Between the U.S. border at Pigeon River and Sault Ste Marie, there are three dozen rivers and streams that are magnets to serious trout anglers and some of my favourites are between Thunder Bay and Schrieber. These are the types of rivers with that pebbly small rocky bottom that rainbows like.
Although I do get up the north shore a few times steelheading, I also frequent a couple of our local rivers and creeks as well.
The MacKenzie is one and of course the good ole Neebing River and McVicar Creek are the others.
Gear used depends on where I’m fishing and water conditions. However, I do have a couple of units I am partial to and have had a lot of success with.
Most of the time I will use my Browning spinning rod that was designed spefically for this type of trout fishing in heavy current. It has an extended butt on it and a little softer bend which allows me to lean into the rod a little more without a lot of force and tearing that small hook out of the fish’s mouth. This rod offers a nice steady pressure in current yet is tough enough to land the biggest of hens if need be. A Fleuger reel with a lot of line capacity rounds out this package quite nicely. In some areas I will also pull out my Orvis fly rod and Sage reel and drift a tied spawn sac.
I will always have both combos in the truck so I can make a choice of what’s best upon arrival at the stream.
Bait choices are numerous and I can hoenstly say I have caught rainbow trout on just about everything. Of course the ole faithful spawn sac seems to be the most widely used.
Rainbow trout are predators with a varied diet and will eat almost anything. Their reputation as “picky” eaters is simply not true.
A good set of chest waders is a must. Another mandatory piece of equipment is a decent personal floatation device; I will use the small inflatable collar style. Although these are not cheap, it’s a great piece of gear when steelhead fishing. It allows the angler to maneuver, cast and retrieve his offering easier without major restriction like a conventional life jacket can produce.
This can save your life as I have taken a spill in 33 Celsius water on more than one accassion, and in a heavy current you don’t have much time to help yourself.
If you have never fished for rainbow trout, get out and try it. It doesn’t take a lot of exepnsive gear and you don’t have to travel far.
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