Disconnect: Bait and Rising Trout


Active Member
I'm certain some of us have heard bait plunkers talking positive about trout rising. So the thought occurs to me: Wouldn't that be a somewhat a bad thing when fishing with bait? Haven't those trout suddenly become "selective" about their food source and less inclined to bother with something that doesn't resemble what they're targeting? You get my drift? Like how many times we've been surrounded by rising trout but unable to get their attention with our inappropriate pattern?

But then again, what do I know? :confused: It's just that I was somewhat struck by what seemed like a disconnect of sorts. Meh...

Ethan G.

I do science.. on fish..
I've been on a lake having a grand old time fishing emergers and dries. After a while some gear chuckers came by and left immediatley once they saw the rises. I wouldn't think it is a good thing at all if I was a bait fisherman.
Having grown up a bait chucker I can tell you I have uttered these exact words in my ill begotten youth. It's not a bad thing that trout are rising to bait fishermen. The reasoning is that rising trout are hungry trout, which is true. If they're on the prowl on the surface, they're all the more likely to sniff out the power eggs or whatever and take interest in it. In other words, hungry fish are a good thing.

In fly fishing terms, you can think of it as buggering a hatch. Fish that are attacking flies on the surface can be enticed by hunger/gluteny to attack a streamer/bugger if it swims by.


Active Member

Interesting response. There have been times when I spent a little too much time trying to figure out a hatch, experiencing denials and what-not. Once I got my game on, I not only hooked-up with the risers but managed to find the deep feeders that were larger and, probably, more selective. I was using a chironomid pupa pattern, then, and thought enough to go deep when I put down the sub-meniscus feeders. There also have been times when I managed to "bugger" the hatch and picked up a few planters that were being a little indiscriminate. I was using a dragonfly nymph pattern at the time.

I actually think that trout that strike a streamer are exploiting a food-chain effect by nailing other predators targeting the same food source as they are. It's like the egg-sucking leech thing. However, if a fly angler isn't using a fly that imitates a rival for food that sits slightly lower on the food chain than a trout, then the angler risks a denial. In this case, I'm thinking of working chironomid patterns that were either emerger or drys, versus going higher on the food chain like a leech or a dragonfly nymph pattern. Facing Green Lake planters, I wouldn't be that concerned about nailing the hatch. I would instead be more interested in presenting something adequately buggy with a good presentation. If I were at Pass, Lone, or Martha Lake, I would be a lot more thoughtful. The trout at those lakes are larger, fewer, and wiser.

Kaari White

Active Member
I like your reasoning, but I disagree as to why a trout strikes a at baitfish, leeches, dragonfly nymphs, etc... Trout, given the choice, will eat whatever packs the biggest nutritional punch while expending the least amount of effort. It takes a lot more effort to eat a 100 emerging midges vs. one leech.


Active Member
I agree with you about the opportunistic nature of trout. More often than not--especially in lakes--I work that angle. However, there are times when they get tunnel vision, aka "selective", and their pattern recognition doesn't include very much at the given moment. They get that way during hatches of significant size or density. It's kind of like dining at a pizza parlor like Pagliacci's and getting handed a cheeseburger. Wouldn't you feel at least a little worried suspicious? Now, if you were dining at some place like, say, a pub that had a diverse menu, you wouldn't be as concerned if a cheeseburger was handed to you. I think that trout are like us in this respect.

To return to my thought about chucking bait to trout rising on a hatch, I tend to think they would be expecting pizza (correctly matched fly for the hatch) and not a cheeseburger (bait)--no matter how good that cheeseburger might otherwise seem. Sure, there probably will be a few trout that might take the cheeseburger, but one might have to wait a while before that happens. Planters that haven't acquired the level of pattern recognition of a carryover would be more likely to fall for the ploy. Admittedly, if there isn't much anything to be had, a cheeseburger (bait) trumps an empty stomach.

Still, I imagine that if a bait chucker realized that rising trout probably offer less chance of a hook-up than no rise at all, well... Either you might find yourself with a new fly fishing convert or a someone more likely to hand you a dirty look.

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