Expert fishing secrets for catching more (and bigger!) early-season brookies, lakers and rainbows
Canadian anglers are blessed with an embarrassment of trout-fishing riches. To help you sort through the options, I asked five of Canada’s top trout anglers to share their secrets, and I’ve included one of my own, too.
Expert: Mark Stiffel
Secret: Long-line Trolling
“My ‘wow day’ always begins after a low-pressure system moves in, bringing dull grey skies and a southwest or westerly breeze,” says my good friend and trout expert Mark Stiffel. “The greyer the morning dawns, the better. A five-mile-an-hour breeze puts a perfect six-inch chop on the water.”
The ideal weather must also coincide with the shallows warming up after winter’s debris has blown off the surface, says Stiffel, vice-president of marketing with the Quebec-based lure company Brecks Inc. Ideally, the water has also become much clearer than it was during winter.
Once conditions are just right, Stiffel’s go-to method is to troll with a fly rod using full-sinking, eight- or nine-weight fly line and a 100-foot leader of six-pound Maxima Ultragreen monofilament or eight-pound fluorocarbon (if the water is stained, he uses Maxima Chameleon for the leader). He notes that you don’t have to be a fly angler to use this technique because there’s no casting involved.
“The fly rod is effective for pulling minnow-imitating streamers like the Grey Ghost, Memphremagog Smelt and Mickey Finn (above),” Stiffel says. “I also prefer tandem streamers, as they greatly increase the number of hook-ups compared to single-hook versions.”
The Quebec trolling ace targets sandy deltas in front of stream mouths, as well as stump-filled bays and shorelines draped with toppled trees. He lets out the long leader and all but three or four wraps of the fly line so that the streamer is at least 200 feet behind the boat.
“I keep 100 feet of backing on my reels,” Stiffel explains. “This increases the arbor size and makes retrieval and fish control much easier. I troll between 1.5 and 2.5 miles per hour, and stay in skinny water the whole time, rarely venturing deeper than six feet. If you aren’t hanging up every once in a while, you aren’t in the right water.”