Trout Fishing in America
June 26, 2008 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Teach me how to fish. GF and I are going camping for a few days on the Yuba River in Northern California. I want to go fishing. I haven't been fishing since my dad took me as a kid, and I have no clue how to start.

I think the Yuba is populated with trout, mainly. In any case, that's what the GF wants to eat, so that's what we're hoping to catch. We obviously won't be fly fishing, being such novices and all.

So, tell me what you know about trout fishing. Specific questions:

1) What kind of rods/reels should we buy? Do we need a specific weight of line or a certain kind of reel?
2) You catch trout in pools, right? Do you fish off the bottom, or at the surface? And do you leave the bait there? For how long?
3) What kind of bait is best?
4) What kind of hook is best?
5) I remember that my dad used a certain kind of knot you use to tie on the hook. Point me to a diagram of it?
6) Do we need waders, or can we fish from the bank?
7) If/we catch a fish, what then? Bucket? Stringer in the river? Clueless!

What else do I need to know?

Give a girl a fish, and she'll turn up her nose and say "Yuck!" Teach a girl to fish, and you'll keep her entertained during a weekend in the woods.
posted by mudpuppie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
1) What kind of rods/reels should we buy? Do we need a specific weight of line or a certain kind of reel?

The cheap Snoopy one from Wal-Mart will work.

2) You catch trout in pools, right? Do you fish off the bottom, or at the surface? And do you leave the bait there? For how long?

Depending on depth, I don't have much shallow fishing experience, but I always like to be just below the surface at least.

3) What kind of bait is best?

Worms

5) I remember that my dad used a certain kind of knot you use to tie on the hook. Point me to a diagram of it?

I use this, they call it a uni-knot.

6) Do we need waders, or can we fish from the bank?

From the bank.

7) If/we catch a fish, what then? Bucket? Stringer in the river? Clueless!

I personally use a stringer.

Don't overthink this. I'm the local 2005 4th of July Tournament winner. 12 rainbow trout in an hour. The largest was 14". I put the worm on a hook, let it sink, jiggled it once in awhile while SLOWLY reeling it in.
posted by geoff. at 1:27 PM on June 26, 2008


1) Your best bet is to walk into a sporting goods store and ask. You probably want something pretty basic, medium to light weight and not too expensive. 4 to 6 pound line should do it, unless you're planning to catch some truly monstrous trout.
2) In rivers, you catch trout in the eddies behind and in front of rocks/debris. Also, next to undercut banks, or in relatively shallow riffles, depending on what they're eating. You fish on the bottom or near the surface or in between--again, depending on what they're eating. Try a couple of things and see if you get any bites.
3) For a beginner, probably salmon eggs (check on local regulations, though--some places you can only use artificial lures). Other options are spinners, jigs, worms, minnows, or a fly a couple of feet below a float. If you want to do anything other than the salmon eggs or worms, you might want to head to the library and find a book with pictures and instructions.
4) Small and brass. Barbless does less damage to the fish if you catch something too small to keep and probably won't lose you any fish. If you can only find barbed, clip off the barbs with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
5) This one is pretty standard and easy to tie, but there are other options.
6) You can fish from the bank.
7) Either one would be just fine.

Other things to know: Morning and evening are your friends. Tackle shop owners in the area are also your friends. Don't be loud, and crouch if you have to be close to the fish; trout are skittish. Have fun.
posted by Hypocrite_Lecteur at 1:38 PM on June 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What else do I need to know?"

You didn't need one as a child since children are exempt from licensing, but since you're an adult now (right?) you'll want a fishing license.
Q: Who needs a sport fishing license?
A: Any person who is 16 years of age or older must possess a sport fishing license when taking any fish, shell fish, reptile, or amphibian in California (Fish and Game Code, Section 7145). Fish and Game Code Section 86 defines "Take" as hunt, pursue, catch, capture, or kill, or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill.
posted by majick at 1:39 PM on June 26, 2008


Where I grew up, you needed a "trout stamp" in addition to the regular fishing license. Check on that.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:59 PM on June 26, 2008


Don't know where you're going but I'd pick the nearest "city" or small metropolitan area and fine the local fish and game shop.

Walk in and ask whoever's working behind the counter they're going to be the best info you're going to find (though granted the prices may be a bit inflated)
posted by bitdamaged at 2:03 PM on June 26, 2008


You should check the fishing regs here - many areas of the Yuba are catch and release only with artificial bait with barbless hooks. You won't need any special stamps. Local stores are probably in Marysville/Yuba city area, but most Sierra stream fishing is the same throughout NorCal, so anybody could help you.

If you are in the clear with the regs I would suggest a small lightweight spinning rod (6-8 lbs test - 4 is good but really hard to work with) some very small treble hooks, a jar of powerbait (I like rainbow), and some small splitshot. Tie on the hook, make a ball of powerbait around it, and put a couple of split shot about 18" above that. Toss it into the eddies and let it drift around. Worms work good too. For a little more work and excitement you could get a couple of small spoon type lures - like a castmaster - and use those. Those you toss and reel in. Get a few of whatever you go with becuase you will lose them.

Make sure you take needle nose pliers to get the hooks out. Gut the fish, put some butter in the pan, then coat them in corn meal, salt and pepper. Fry away.

Oh man I need to go fishing..... If it wasn't so smoky here I'd take tomorrow off and go!
posted by Big_B at 2:17 PM on June 26, 2008


I got so excited I forget a few of your questions:

2) You catch trout in pools, right? Do you fish off the bottom, or at the surface? And do you leave the bait there? For how long?

Pools generally, but they usually hide around the backs of large rocks too. They don't see to well and only go after something after they see it right in front of them, so top or bottom doesn't really matter. How long - til you get bored and think you need more bait, or your bait is gone. I wouldn't sit on the same spot all day if you ain't catchin anything though. Walk around.

5) I remember that my dad used a certain kind of knot you use to tie on the hook. Point me to a diagram of it?

The one linked above is what I would suggest.

6) Do we need waders, or can we fish from the bank?

Probably from the bank, although the water isn't *that* cold, so you don't need waders. Stay away from walking through fast moving water though for obvious reasons. That and it disturbs the fish and their habitat.

7) If/we catch a fish, what then? Bucket? Stringer in the river? Clueless!
Use a stringer and keep them in the water. Be aware that with my small treble suggestion they have a nasty habit of swallowing the hook, in which case death is eminent, but the needle nose will come in handy.
posted by Big_B at 2:25 PM on June 26, 2008


"We obviously won't be fly fishing, being such novices and all."

I haven't fished the Yuba, but in many places fly fishing is a more productive way to catch trout than bait fishing, even for a novice. Splashing bait and spinners around scares trout like crazy. You could spend 10 minutes watching casting videos on Youtube to learn to send a fly in roughly the right direction. If you are tempted by fly fishing:

1) What kind of rods/reels should we buy? Do we need a specific weight of line or a certain kind of reel?
9 foot, 6 weight fly rod, with the cheapest reel you can find preloaded with floating 6 weight line. Plus 3lb tapered monofilament leaders that join the fly line to the fly.

2) You catch trout in pools, right? Do you fish off the bottom, or at the surface? And do you leave the bait there? For how long?
Off the top when they are rising, using floating (aka dry) flies, or off the bottom when they aren't rising using sinking (aka nymphs/streamers/wet) flies.

3) What kind of bait is best?
4) What kind of hook is best?

Take advice on flies (which come mounted on hooks) from a local shop. The adams is the all time classic dry fly, and the GRHE is the all time classic nymph. Salmon egg flies are also popular.

5) I remember that my dad used a certain kind of knot you use to tie on the hook. Point me to a diagram of it?
Clinch is the easiest, although not the strongest.

7) If/we catch a fish, what then? Bucket? Stringer in the river? Clueless!
Kill it, gut it, put it in a wet fabric bag to stay cool.

I'm not a fly purist, but the excitement and constant mental and physical activity of fly fishing is way more fun than bait fishing for me. You can easily teach yourself (I did). The only disadvantage is that a basic fly rod is almost always more expensive than a basic spinning rod.
posted by roofus at 4:06 PM on June 26, 2008


If you want to keep and eat trout in CA you are probably looking for a hatchery or stocked fishery. Most wild populations are restricted to catch and release. There are also major emergency restrictions in place at the moment to protect the crashing salmon runs. And yep, you need a license which you can get at Walmart or Longs btw. Also pick up the rulebook and read it. There are a lot of rules and it's confusing but if you call DFG or a sporting goods store you can probably just ask "where can we go fishing for trout and keep them on the Yuba?" and they will tell you.
posted by fshgrl at 4:45 PM on June 26, 2008


If you want to catch and eat trout, don't forget to bring a nice knife for cleaning the fish. There's no need to scale trout, but you'll want to make a cut from the head to the anus and pull out the guts. If you use a folding knife like a swiss army knife or a Leatherman, it will continue to smell like fish if you don't wash it well and let it dry before putting it away.

It's been mentioned above, but bears repeating. You'll want a pointy set of needle nosed pliers or forceps to get the hook out of fish.

If you're fishing in waters that require artificial lures, try a spoon or a Mepps spinner. I like an erratic but still somewhat fast retrieve. I tend to jerk the rod and then reel in a foot or so and repeat.

When tying on a lure as opposed to a fly or a hook, use a knot with a loop like the rapala knot.

Chat up the local fishing shop to find out what's working well for where you want to go.

Bring food in case you don't catch anything.

Good luck.
posted by advicepig at 5:36 PM on June 26, 2008


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