ALBANY, NY – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has provided the following trout fishing methods and fishing etiquette tips.
When fishing for trout in streams, it is best to go upstream (against the current) whenever possible. This is especially important when fishing for wild or scary fish. Trout generally face the current and will be less likely to see you approaching from behind.
Wear camouflage or “natural colors” clothing and try to avoid brightly colored clothing and hats. Move slowly and disturb the water as little as possible. Polarized glasses will help you wade and see fish and fishing areas.
A good option is to fish upstream with a fast bait like a spinner and then back up downstream with a slower presentation like a worm or small jig. The faster bait allows you to cover water quickly and catch aggressive fish. The slower bait works well for fish you may have spooked on your first pass or less aggressive fish.
When you fish for trout, you typically fish pockets of streams, pools, and tracks:
Pouch – located in riffles or riffles, this is a small area of calm or sheltered water behind a rock or boulder that provides shelter or holding ground for fish.
When pocket water fishing, you will target areas of slack water behind rocks and boulders. These blackouts provide trout with a place to hold and dart to pass food. To fish in a water pocket, cast your bait upstream of the break in the current and let your bait drift along the edge of the slack. After working both edges, start working your way into the slack water area.
Basin – area where the water is slower and deeper than other water areas of the stream. A pool contains three parts: the upper end (called the head) where the rapids or rapids feed the pool; central part or main body of the swimming pool; and the lower end (called the tail or tail) where the rapids or rapids start again under the pool.
Actively feeding fish are usually found in the head and tail sections of the tank. Pools, being deeper than tracks or pocket water, generally require using more weight to lower your bait. When fishing for the head of the pool, cast your bait into the current and let your bait sink to the deepest part of the pool.
The tail of the pool, being shallower, requires using a little more stealth to fish. Cast your bait in the middle of the pool and let it drift in and through the tail section. It’s good to cover the whole pool in search of fish. The fish often hang around any structure in the pool, such as logs, rocks, bridge pilings, or overhanging vegetation. It is definitely worth working in these areas.
Course – area where the flow of a stream narrows, caused either by the banks of the river or by the structure of the bottom. A run is deeper than a rapid, but not as deep as a swimming pool.
Races are generally fished most efficiently with spinners, spoons, or streamers. The bait will also work drifting throughout the run; however, getting the right amount of weight for a good fin is often trickier. Hanging your bait under a float (bobber) often helps. As with pools, fish often hang around any structure in the run, and it pays to work these areas.
Sometimes fishing pressures can be high and waterway etiquette can go a long way to making everyone’s day enjoyable. Elbow to fish is a common courtesy. The stationary or slow-moving angler must have room by taking it out of the water quietly and reentering it as far as possible.
Wading up to another angler could disrupt a group of feeding fish, and no one enjoys this type of conduct. Pleasant conversations are OK, as long as you don’t disturb other anglers. Remember that wiggle room for fishing is a common courtesy.
Catch and release
There’s nothing wrong with saving fish for the pan. The fish is delicious and eating some fresh fish is a great way to end a fun day of fishing. If you plan to release fish, there are some steps you can take to improve fish survival.
Fish release methods:
Use barbless hooks; they cause less damage to fish.
Playing a fish for a short time increases its chances of survival. Do not play a fish longer than necessary.
Wet your hands before touching a fish that needs to be released. Dry skin will remove the mucous coating on the trout. Avoid touching the gills.
Using a dip net also increases a trout’s survival rate.
Gently push the hook outward and cradle the fish in your hand, underwater and facing upstream.
After a while, let the fish swim freely. If the fish rolls over, catch it and revive it as shown above.
Didymo, the rock snot, is an invasive non-native algae that forms a thick brown carpet on the bottom of waterways, threatening aquatic habitat, biodiversity and recreational opportunities. Didymo can spread by drifting downstream, clinging to boots, fishing gear, waders, boats and trailers. Cleaning your equipment can help prevent the spread of didymo.
Check the current fishing regulations for the stream you are fishing by consulting the Statewide and Special Regulations by County sections of your fishing guide.