Wednesday, April 8, 2015

North Branch Raritan River Rainbows on Salmon Eggs

Guys casting Trout Magnets and the like pulled four or five trout apiece out of the river in 10 or 15 minutes, and then the rainbows got picky. The jigs simply plummet for bottom and trout swoop on them. It's very easy to fish that way. Hookups are a sure bet, when trout tend to steal salmon eggs at least as often as get hooked. Where I positioned having come in at 4:40 (North Branch is restricted to 5 pm opening on stocking days), I could not quite put salmon eggs on the trout. Besides, I still fiddled with figuring out how current carried the eggs before the guy to my left had five trout and quit after 15 minutes. I caught an average rainbow, yet wasn't satisfied with the eggs on snell hooks, double leaders snapped on with no added weight, no swivel...I wasn't sure they got in the zone, so I snapped on a small swivel for added weight, and then decided this was too much and undid it.

I began missing hits, and lost at least a couple of trout I played for awhile. I use a 3 1/2-foot spinning rod about 8mm wide at the butt. It's got a much lighter tip than my 2 weight, six-foot fly rod. With two-pound test mono, a 10-inch trout makes drag useful. Today I tried one-pound test Fireline and do not recommend it for this kind of fishing. Salmon egg oil makes casting very frustrating. It gums the line on the spool and I felt relieved I could fish at all. Mono gets to be something of a mess, but not really a problem.

I missed more hits than I would want to admit. The difficulty in drifting salmon eggs as a method involves hookset especially. In general, if you let a trout take too long, it steals the bait, but if you set too soon, you might pull the hook through the egg without catching any of the mouth. Add to this the wide range of how trout take eggs. Sometimes a trout takes an egg whole and instantly gets hooked deep in the mouth as it turns like lightening. Another trout lips an egg and sort of chews on it without ever getting the hook point in position to catch. If you wait on a fish like that, it will simply force the egg from the hook, and you never really had a chance to set anyhow.

There are days you never get it right. Other times, it comes together and you catch most of the trout that take. It's easy, once you start on the wrong foot, to go downhill during the rest of the outing. One screw-up leads to more confusion, and you just don't get the timing right.

In between spots I enjoyed the persistent call of a red-winged blackbird. The first I have noticed this year. I also felt the presence of a brown dirt trail I walked remind me of river smallmouth bass fishing during summer, a much more relaxed pursuit than trout fishing among so many competitors on a stocking day.

I found a nice little run all by myself where I saw at least half a dozen trout through polarized lenses. Then a real nice one came into view, which I watched finally snatch an egg. Missed this trout of at least 16 inches. Despite so many fish humiliating me, I lingered and fished hard, missing hits here and there. Finally, I came to the bottom of my jar of Mike's Shrimp Eggs. With the two leaders on one snap I got a lot of casts with the last two eggs before one slipped off the hook. Now one egg left, I still managed to gain casting distance and make the zone. I saw my line stop when current would have carried it and reared back. That big trout shuddered for a second in my view on the line and felt great, gone the next instant.  


  1. This one made me chuckle. "One screw-up leads to more confusion, and you just don't get the timing right."

  2. Yeah, it's certainly something to laugh off. When I'm out there & it happens I guess I'm sort of in an OCD trance trying, cast after cast, to get it right, but typically failing. The next day I returned and balanced out, ratio of missed hits to fish caught not anything that could be embarrassing.

  3. I run into that kind of mishap constantly in Lumosity. Always feels good to get ahold of control again.


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