Brook’s Top 5 Trout Lures

By Jason Brooks

Nearly 2.3 million catchable sized trout have been recently planted in lakes all across Washington. 

Now that opening day of the lowland lakes fishing season has passed the crowds are starting to subside but the fish are still readily biting. I spent this past weekend on one of my favorite lakes with great success. Here are a few lures that worked for us that will work for you too!

A feisty trout is a lot of fun to catch-Jason Brooks

These are my top five lures for getting these early season rainbow trout to bite:

-1/4 ounce Silver UV Cripplure by Macks Lure
-Brown Smile Blade Fly by Macks Lure
-Black and Silver 1/4 ounce Roostertail by Yakima Bait Company
-F4 Flatfish by Yakima Bait Company
-Kokanee Cut Plug by Brads

The Author’s top trout-catching lures-Jason Brooks

I’ll either flat line the spinners and spoons or I’ll place a  ¼ ounce to ½ ounce split shot a few feet in-front of the other lures to get them down a bit. When you’re fishing any of these lures for trout be sure to troll slow.

To rig the new Kokanee Cut Plug tie two size 8 Gamakatsu painted octopus hooks and then slide a rubber bobber stop by Beau Mac on the leader, which comes with a small bead. The bead acts as a bearing for the cut plug and really lets it spin freely. By using the rubber bobber stop you can adjust the set-back of the hooks to catch those short-biting fish. And last but not least be sure to add a bunch of scent to the cavity of the Brads Super Bait. The scent cavity is designed specifically for adding scent and it works great!

Rigging the new Kokanee Cut Plug-Jason Brooks

Using a Super Gel or bait oil by Pro-Cure attracts trout that might otherwise not want to move around in the colder water. Top-producing Pro-Cure scents for me are Rainbow Trout, Crawfish, and Trout and Kokanee Magic.

Adding scents to your lures increases your catch-Jason Brooks

There are 2.3 million reasons why you should hit your local lake for trout in the coming weeks. The opening day crowds are gone and there are still plenty of hungry fish around.

Jason Brooks
The Outdoor Line Blogger
710 ESPN Seattle
Jason Brooks Photography

Let’s Go Ice Fishing!

Grandpa Al Brooks with Adam and Ryan enjoying a day ice fishing on Roses Lake-Jason Brooks

Let’s Go Ice Fishing!

by Jason Brooks

The recent cold temperatures have thickened the ice and a winter pastime is creating memories once again. Ice fishing is going strong in Eastern Washington with the trout bite being consistent on Roses Lake near the tiny town of Manson. Those that prefer to catch a mess of perch are doing really well on Moses Lake and don’t forget Fish Lake near Leavenworth.

Ryan Brooks waits for a bite through the ice-Jason Brooks

The fishing is fairly simple, just chop or auger a hole in the ice and drop your baits down towards the bottom where the water temperatures are a little warmer. Look for areas where other anglers have found previous success, as shown on the ice with places where fish have flopped around and froze, or by watching anglers on the ice.

A rainbow trout coming through the ice-Jason Brooks

Ice fishing is one of those activities that is more of a novelty than a “must catch a limit” fishery. Have fun out on the ice but realize that it is cold, windy, and if you take the kids along they might not want to sit out there for very long. To make it more comfortable I like to take a lawn chair and a piece of carpet. The carpet makes it so you won’t be sliding around all the time and it really helps keep your feet warm.

Just enough freshly frozen trout for dinner-Jason Brooks

For gear, a standard, light action Daiwa trout rod works well, but so do those tiny “ice fishing” rods you find in the mid-west. They are very sensitive as the bite is light with the cold waters. Spool the small reel with 6 pound Platinum Izorline monofilament. When trout fishing it is best to use a leader with the weight tied at the bottom and the hook tied off of the leader between the weight and the swivel. I prefer to use a 1/4 ounce bell weight and size 10 bait holder hooks. Common baits are powerbait, single salmon eggs, or my favorite-salad shrimp cured overnight in Pro-Cure’s “Shrimp and Prawn” cure. For perch, jigging is the way to go, and it also works great for trout fishing too. Use a small jig, like a 1/8 ounce or smaller Mack’s Lure Glo-Getter that is UV enhanced. Tip the jig with a piece of worm, shrimp, or maggots. I also use a lot of scent when ice fishing no matter the type of fish as this attracts the lethargic fish and turns on a bite. Try Anise and Garlic scents as they seem to work really well ice fishing.

Adam Brooks and our Vizsla Lucy use carpet to keep their feet warm on the ice-Jason Brooks

Jason Brooks – Outdoor Line Blogger

Northwest Outdoor Report

300,000 Anglers Expected for Trout Opener
If you’ve noticed a few more boats scurrying around Western Washington early this morning it’s because today is the lowland lake opener in Washington. With over 300,000 anglers hitting the water today it’s the single largest opener in Washington. WDFW responded to requests to plant bigger fish this year by increasing the size of the stocked trout from around 8 to 9 inches to 11 to 12 inches. They planted approximately 2.4 million of these bigger, thicker, and chunkier trout for the opener. In addition, they also planted 110,000 jumbo rainbows averaging between 13 and 16 inches and another 52,000 triploid trout averaging around one and a half pounds. Temperatures are expected to reach around 60 degrees over the weekend and outside of a few afternoon showers the forecast is excellent for the biggest fishing opener of the year.

Martinis’s Top Lake Picks on the North End
John Martinis at John’s Sporting Goods in Everett likes Lake Kye in Snohomish County, Martha Lake near Alderwood, and both Heart and Erie Lakes near Anacortes for the trout opener. Martinis says the state plants a lot of fish in all of those lakes and they produce excellent fishing every year. His go-to setup for catching a limit of stocker trout is orange Berkley Power Eggs fished on a long 3 to 6 feet leader of 4 pound test monofilament. He says the extra long leader allows the bait to float up off the bottom above the weeds where the trout are cruising.

Pollock’s Top Lake Picks on the South End
Tom Pollock at Sportco in Fife says his top pick in the Tacoma area would be Lake Spanaway which recently received a plant of over 18,000 trout. He also likes Mineral Lake, Wilderness Lake, and Bay Lake on the Key Peninsula for great opening weekend fishing. Bay Lake recently received a plant of over 7,500 rainbows in preparation for the opener.  Pollock says the fish are usually in the top three to five feet of the water column and he’ll target those shallow fish by trolling Wedding Ring spinners, Dick Nite spoons, or small Flatfish. Pollock says another fun way to catch opening day trout is to fish a small piece of cocktail shrimp on a #6 hook below a bobber. He calls it a “delicacy” for these stocked trout and says the holdover trout will also hit this bait, as well.

Dam Counts Reach 1,000 Springers  on the Columbia This Week
1,000 springers passed over Bonneville Dam on Tuesday of this past week. It’s the first time over 1,000 spring Chinook have passed over the dam all season and it seemed to encourage more springers to charge upriver. 2227 passed over the dam on Wednesday and 2541 went over Bonneville on Thursday. Reports from Drano Lake and the Wind River upstream of Bonneville are that a few springers are being caught already. These areas typically fish best for spring Chinook during the month of May. We’ll have more reports from both of these areas in the coming weeks.

Saltwater Openers up Next
Saltwater anglers are eagerly awaiting the May 1st ling cod opener in the Puget Sound. The ling opener is followed by the spot prawn opener on May 4th and a slew of areas open up for halibut the first week of May also. Recreational shrimpers will see a 70% increase in shrimp quota this year which means anywhere from an extra day or two of shrimping in some areas to an extra month of shrimping in the San Juan Islands. Anglers are urged to visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website for a full run down of the upcoming ling cod, shrimp, and halibut seasons.

Fly Fishing Fair in Ellensburg
Don’t miss the 7th Annual Fly Fishing Fair at the Ellensburg Fairgrounds on May 3rd and 4th. Over 100 fly tiers will be on hand to share their fly tying skills and there will be numerous fly casting instructors at the fair all weekend to teach both beginning and expert fly casting techniques. The Fair boasts 18 flyfishing workshops over two days featuring names like Jack Mitchell from the Evening Hatch Guide Service, Steve Worley from Worley Bugger Flies, and Jim Teeny of Teeny Fly Lines.  For more information about the Fly Fishing Fair log onto Washingtoncouncilfff.org.

Yosemite Ranks Highest for Drug Busts
Associated Press – California’s Yosemite National Park lead the way in drug busts amongst all the national parks for the last three years. Park Rangers at Yosemite arrested 2,393 people for illegal drugs over the last three years compared to just 500 at Yellowstone and 365 at Grand Canyon National Park. One park visitor said they see a lot more happy faces at Yosemite than they do at Disneyland. The drug problem has been a boone to local mini-marts, however, who can’t seem to keep Dorito’s and frozen pizza’s in stock.

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
Washington Fishing Forums and Reports

Try Micro Hots Shots for Opening Day Trout

As we quickly approach the lowland lake opener here in Washington I’m reminded of how much fun I’ve had over the years trolling for rainbows with small plugs. In case you’re not sure when the opener is…it’s this Saturday.

The second I lift the lid on my old trout box every year a lifetime of trout fishing memories flashes across the ol’ mental movie player. There’s stuff in this box that dates clear back to the mid-70’s when I was just a pup.

In one small compartment is a pile of small spoons, another contains a bunch of Mepp’s spinners, there’s a box of trout flies I tied in the 4th grade, some old red and white bobbers, and in yet another compartment is a little pile of Hot Shot plugs. Some are new and some are old.

The memories of hooking opening day trout on these small plugs are some of my most vivid because the strikes were vicious and the trout would jump for the sky the second they were hooked.

Dad would run the 15 horsepower Evinrude that vomited noxious exhaust fumes and my brother and I would sit at attention in our huge orange life jackets waiting for a strike. We had a twelve foot Smokercraft, which seemed plenty big at the time. Mom would be there too, stuffing food in our faces and keeping us warm.

I didn’t talk much. I would stare at my rod intently as dad meandered around the lake looking for a concentration of trout. When a trout would pound one of the plugs I still remember that moment of pandemonium when the rod would slam down and a chunky rainbow would launch itself into the sky trying to shake the hook.

It worked out best when they did spit the hook so we could fish a little longer. Regardless, I would get a big charge out of how hard a trout would slam these little plugs.

When I think back to the trout openers of my youth those are the first memories that come to the forefront, of trout smashing small plugs.

Trout-sized Hot Shots come in size 50, 60, and 70. If you choose just one size, however, I’d go with a size 60. They’ll dive a few feet down and if you need to go deeper simply add some split shot up the line three or four feet.

All of the colors above work great, but it seems like I always drift towards the froggy pattern and the flame orange Hot Shot. That’s what we used when we were kids and they still spank the trout to this day.

If you’re running an electric trolling motor you can let the plugs out around 30 feet and still get strikes. When using a gas-powered engine I recommend letting them out at least 50 feet or more. Be sure to troll slowly and when you get a few strikes in a certain area of the lake be sure to whip back around and make a few laps thru that area. Chances are there are more willing biters in the area.

A friend down near Portland, Oregon suggested running these small Hot Shot’s behind a Ford Fender. He catches some huge trout on some of the larger lakes in Oregon on this rig and says they absolutely paste the plugs when they hit them. That’s something I’ve got to try!

My wife and I will be taking our one year old daughter out on the boat this Sunday for her first trout fishing experience and I plan on trolling plugs. I’m pretty sure she won’t remember it when she’s older. We’ll remember it though and that’s what counts!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle

Prepping for the Trout Opener

Approximately 300,000 anglers will swarm the lowland lakes of Western Washington for "opening day" on April 30th, the largest attendance of any opening day here in Washington.

Hundreds of thousands of rainbow trout ranging from pan-fryer sized eight to twelve inchers to the coveted and beefy triploids are pumped into over a hundred lakes west of the mountains. This bounty of trout is opportunity galore for both young and old alike!

After a long and brutal winter here in Washington it's time to dust off the ol' fishing gear and pull the lake boat out of storage for the big fiesta. Opening day is a little over two weeks away and there's no better time than the present to start getting things in order.

Get started early with this opening day check list: 

-Purchase a new fishing license from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Last years fishing license expired on March 31st. Kids under 14 fish for free and kids over 15 need to purchase a license for $8.25. Click HERE for more information regarding fishing license requirements for opening day.

-Check the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Catchable Trout Plant Report to see how many trout were planted in your local lake.  

-If you forget to add fuel stabilizer to the gasoline in your small outboard tank before it was put in storage last fall it's more than likely bad and will need to be disposed of at an approved facility. The ethanol contained in todays fuel blends can cause phase separation when it sits for more than a couple months. This occurs when the ethanol in blended fuel absorbs water and seperates, dropping to the bottom of the tank where the fuel pick up line is located. Fuel that has been stabilized should be good to go.    

-Place "rabbit ears" that are connected to a garden hose over the water intake vents on the lower unit of the outboard to test the motor. A large 60 gallon garbage can filled with water will also work. After the motor warms up shift the engine into forward and reverse several times to ensure that the shifting cables are working. Also check that the tell tale is spraying a steady stream of water. If there is no water coming from the tell tale port on the side of the engine push a small piece of wire into the end of it to break loose any build up that may have occurred over the winter. If water still isn't present the water impeller could be damaged and it should be taken to a service shop immediately for repair. 

-Unhook the batteries in the boat and place them on a charger so that they are at full charge when it's time to hit the water on the opener. It's especially important to unhook the batteries if they are attached to an electric trolling motor before you begin charging, as damage can occur to the motor.

-Check the propeller on the electric trolling motor to make sure no fishing line is wrapped around the hub. If fishing line is present remove the propellor and cut it away.

-Check all the life jackets to make sure the squirrels haven't used them for a nest over the winter or even worse, a bunch of hornets haven't taken up shop in the life jackets. Clean them and make sure they all still fit the individuals that will be wearing them. In Washington kids under 12 years of age need to wear a life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet. 

-Plug the trailer lights into the tow vehicle and test them to make sure they are working properly.

-Check the trailer winch assembly, the winch cable, and the stern tie-downs for wear and tear. Spray the trailer winch gears with WD-40 or teflon spray.

-Inspect the oars, oar stops, and oar locks for damage and replace if needed.

-Check the boat plug for damage and purchase a spare if you don't already have one.

-Grease the trailer bearings and check the brakes on the trailer if it has them. 

-Take a quick look in the tackle box for rusty hooks that will be used on the opener. Replace any rusty hooks on trolling lures and either sharpen bait hooks or purchase new ones. 

-Replace old fishing line with fresh new line. Eight to ten pound test main line is great for opening day trout.

-Make sure the bail mechanisms and bail releases work on all the fishing reels and that the fishing rods are all in good working condition. 

-Get the kids out for some casting practice prior to opening day. Heck, you might even need some casting practice too. It's a fun way to spend the afternoon with the kids.

-Take a couple of practice runs backing the boat into the driveway or even better, at the boat launch you'll be using. You don't want to be "that guy" that takes an hour to launch the boat on opening morning.

I'll never forget some of the great memories I have of fishing on opening day with my family in Kitsap County. Those great memories definitely helped to get me hooked on fishing and the outdoors at a very early age. It's a great way to get kids, friends, and family outdoors to experience one of our countries great pastimes…Fishing!

Rob Endsley
The Outdoor Line
710 ESPN Seattle
www.theoutdoorline.com