Warm and early are probably the best words you can use to describe this spring. This can be both good and bad for trout fishermen if you choose the wrong fishing method, but will most likely be the best trout opener in years.
This has to be the lowest I have ever seen the water just before the trout season opener on April first. We typically are dealing with icy, high and fast moving water until about the second week of season. This year is going to be the complete opposite and will have to be dealt with properly to have some success. When, where and how you fish will likely determine your success rate. The bait you choose and how you present it is much more important in low slower moving water. This is the kind of fishing that should take you off the beaten path in search of deep pools, or casting a surface fly from a distance.
We are about two weeks ahead of schedule putting us in the optimum temperature and water level to catch trout. Most years we head out and struggle fighting fast, cold water and ice. We are typically chomping at the bit for water levels to drop but this year has us set to catch. The water level is about exactly where I like it and should produce some great catches first day. This spring you will need to abandon your typical first day routine and go with a later season strategy.
When the water is moving fast you should increase the size of your bait a bit which allows fish to see it as it whips by in the fast moving current. You also have to add weight in an attempt to get the bait as deep as possible and slow its movement through the strike zone. With lower water levels I recommend downsizing the bait and its presentation. This typically means switching from a whole night crawler to a half, downsizing flies and reducing the amount of sinkers on your line, or possibly eliminating them all together. I find bug patterns tend to outperform crawlers under such conditions and meal worms are my favorite.
Most people put them on the hook wrong and give up on them because they donít stay on it long, or are easily stolen without hooking the fish. Itís likely if you quit using them or had little success, you were probably hooking them through the center and just letting them dangle on the hook. The proper way to use them is to match their size to the hook. You want to thread the meal worm on the hook just behind the head. Poke the point of the hook through the body when the hook eye is about to disappear into the body. When rigged right the hook eye should be in the body just behind the head, with the point and barb hanging out near its back section. You will catch more fish this way also because they have a hard time getting the bait off without being hooked. This works especially well in slow water when the fish has time to inspect the bait and spook from seeing the hook. You can also rig worms the same way as to hide the hook and increase your hook up rate.
First light has always been the best time to catch trout for me. I like to sneak into an area before light in full camouflage and sit until itís time to fish. I have found if you attempt to approach a low water hole in broad daylight you have a good chance of spooking the fish. I also prefer to stay on shore rather than go stomping into the water, which spooks fish whether light out or not. Waders are good still because you may need to cross a stream, to access other holes. If you have gotten into the brighter hours of the morning seek out shaded areas and approach as slow and low as possible. Avoiding detection is the most important thing to do under these conditions and will surely increase your catch rate. Fly fishing can be a bit problematic because of the amount of movement you have to make in order to cast. Once again backing up, sneaking in and casting at a distance is probably your best bet. I feel this is going to be an awesome first day, if you remember not to crowd the holes and use fewer sinkers.
Good wishes and may you find some slime in the bottom of your net.