I’ve been reading more and more fly fishing articles with titles like “Topwater Tricks for Large, Sophisticated Trout” and “Top Ten Tips for Over-Sized Browns.” While stories like that may have their place with the latte-sipping, “big fish” crowd, let’s be honest. Those guys are pukes who never catch anything. Screw that. Here’s what you really need to know.
I've had my best luck ignoring all that “Big Fish” garbage and targeting smaller (7" to 8") rainbows approximately 12 to 24 hours after the stocking truck drops them off. A lot of folks don’t think that you can catch fresh stockers, and there’s obviously some truth to that belief. We all know that freshly-stocked trout are clever little devils. But there’s one technique that will invariably swing the odds in your favor. You have to put yourself in the fish’s shoes and use the same technique that a professional hatchery worker would.
That means for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, you need to chum the pool with 3 or 4 handfuls of pea-sized gravel before you make a cast. (You can use corn or real fish pellets, too, but gravel is usually easier to find, as well as far cheaper.)
After you’ve got the pool all fired up and ready to roll, then cast a size 16 neutral-buoyancy brown pellet fly directly at the highest concentration of swirling fish. You’ll want to fish that fly with 3 staggered, different-sized indicators - the largest being the furthest from the fly - and keep a close eye on the middle indicator, which you should coat with bright green toenail polish for additional visibility. When all 3 indicators disappear for at least 4 seconds, set the hook gently, so as not to have your small trout fly through the air and up onto the bank.
By the way, I prefer a fast or extra-fast action 9-weight for this type of fishing. You won't need a rod that big for those little stocked rainbows, but I've also taken a couple of large ducks with this technique and a good-sized mallard is more than most 5-weight or 6-weight rods can handle.
Oh, and here’s one final tip. My favorite new iPhone app, Bass Pro's “Stocking Truck Locator,” is now available for a very reasonable $4.99 via iTunes. All you have to do is type in your zip code and target species and you’ll receive e-mail alerts whenever that precious cargo is about to hit the road.
Let me finish up with some solid advice. Don’t be a puke. Let the 'Big Fish' fanatics follow the crowd. Savvy anglers follow the truck.