Fishing Methods for Landing Rainbow Trout
It can be confidently asserted that the only rainbow trout the reader is likely to catch will be on a fly. Fishery management and stocking take a great deal of work and patience as well as money, and the people who do this work are naturally reluctant to see the fruits of their toil reaped in an inept or mechanical manner. Most reservoirs containing rainbow trout are ‘fly only’.
It is a pity to catch rainbow trout by any other method than fly since they are free risers and often feed without restraint in conditions when brown trout are inactive.
Rainbow trout often take quite savagely. On hooking, they are almost as active as sea-trout, repeated leaps and swift dashes with rapid changes of direction being the rule. These tactics often culminate in a long fast run into deep water.
Beginners sometimes stand mesmerized on hooking a rainbow. The fish may dart rapidly shorewards leaving the angler with a lot of slack line. Reeling in is then too slow and one must haul the line down the rod with one’s free hand until contact is established.
Tactics for Still Water
In lakes holding both rainbow and brown trout there seems to be no special way of ensuring the capture of any particular species. Certain areas on certain lakes, however, do seem to favour one fish or the other. The diet of the two species would seem to be closely similar.
On hot days when there is little activity among the brown trout it is likely that most of the fish in your basket will be rainbows. I get the impression that rainbows rise to a fly from a greater depth than do browns. Warm, windy days with a strong sun, diffused by cloud, are especially favourable.
Lake fishing can be cold, hard work and it is only natural to seek the more sheltered positions on a bad day. But the lake angler often has to decide whether the object of the exercise is a basket of trout or a day in the open air. Feeding fish care nothing for the angler’s comfort.
Occasions when the chop is so heavy that the water has been discoloured for some metres from the bank offer good conditions in which to catch big rainbow trout. Not only does the murk hide your leader but it dims the clearer water beyond, where the fish are feeding.
The routine here is to cast obliquely across-wind and allow the line to bag as it drifts rapidly inshore. The fly of course is first dropped into the clearer water off shore. Fish follow the fly and seize it before it can ‘escape’ into the gloom near the bank.
The rainbow trout is the most successful foreign game fish to have been introduced into Britain.
Although it is the custom to stock rainbows artificially in most waters where they occur, the species does nevertheless breed naturally in several locations. Haddon Hall and New-stead Abbey, together with the rivers Gwash, Cam, Granta, and Rhee, are typical of such places. Rainbows are said to breed, too, in the Chiltern streams, Chess, Gade, Misbourne, and Mimram.
The risks attendant on introducing foreign species are now better appreciated than they once were. There have been several unwise importations, particularly the hideous Wels or Danubian catfish. Diversity of species has its attractions but it can be easily overdone, especially when the native forms suffer.
Rainbows have been introduced successfully into New Zealand. Lake Alexandrina in South Island contains excellent fish which are said to be descendants of the steelheads stocked in North Island’s Lake Taupo.