Trout Fishing 101
Most trout caught by beginning trout fishermen will generally weight less than 2 lbs. Therefore, light or medium weight fishing tackle (6 to 10 lb. line) will be your best choices when planning your first trout fishing trip. Spin cast versus bait cast is a personal choice. Neither option should present an obstacle to catching trout. Trout are opportunistic and will attack almost anything that they perceive as a possible food source. The baits favored by most beginning and many established fisherman are canned corn, Power Baits, night crawlers, and crawdads (crawfish). Some artificial baits would include small bass baits, spinners, and hand tied flies.
Limits of trout can easily be caught from the bank or boat. Bank fishermen generally cover less than a half a mile of bank in a day. If they wish to increase coverage, they may wade out into the river. Fishing from a boat or canoe will greatly increase the area that can be covered in a day (you can easily cover 5 or more miles from a boat or canoe in a day). In order to learn the basics of trout fishing quickly, beginners may want to utilize a guide service before attempting to strike out on their own.
If you have to fish from a boat and didn't bring your own then you have several options available to you. The first is to hire a guide, boats are included with the guide's fee (fees generally range from $180.00 to over $300.00 per day for 2 people). The primary advantages of hiring a guide is that he will show you how to fish, where to fish, and how to navagiate that part of the river. You can find a guide at any of the local trout docks, riverside resorts, etc. The next option would be to rent a boat and motor (rentals range from $50.00 to $120.00 per day). Most trout docks, resorts and bait shops have boats and motors for rent. A thrid option is to rent a canoe (these rentals range from $20.00 to $40.00 per day plus shuttle fees). Check with the local trout dock resort or bait shop for canoe rentals.
Bait Cast Fishing
As mentioned above, the more popular baits include canned corn, Power Baits, night crawlers, crawfish, etc. Bait fishing usually requires a medium weight rod and reel, with 8 to 12 lb. test line. How you rig your fishing line to use these types of baits depend upon how you intend to fish. Experienced trout fishermen have their own methods for rigging their lines when utilizing these types of baits. One of the more commonly used methods is called the White River Rig.
This rig, is often used for drift fishing on the White River, and can be baited with many kinds of trout bait including night crawlers, red worms or glow worm/salmon egg combinations or some artificial baits. Use 4 lb. leader line, clear or light green to be less visible to fish with a heavier main line.
Another method of rigging your line for bait fishing is as follows: Slip a bell sinker on the line, attach a barrel swivel, tie on about 2 to 3 feet of 2 to 4 pound test leader and finish off with a bait hook. A marshmallow provides flotation for the hook. This method works well when drifting with the current while fishing from a boat.
The descriptions of both methods are very general and most fisherman modify them to meet their needs and preferences regarding type and size of hooks and/or weights to meet the current fishing conditions. Regardless of which rigging you chose, making up several in advance will ensure more time fishing. Both of these methods illustrated above were taken from the 2009 Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook, published by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (Illustrations by Bruce Cook).
Spin Cast Fishing
A spinning rod and reel is a good choice when using spinners and other artificial bait. Most guides and experienced trout fisherman like to use ultra-light or light weight tackle. Some of the more popular spinners and lures include Panther Martin, Blue Foxx, Rooster Tail, Rappla Count Down, Little Cleo, etc. The above list is in no way all inclusive. There are as many different lures for trout as there are for any other species of fish, literally hundreds of them.
There is no way to talk about trout fishing and artificial baits without at least mentioning fly fishing. There are many books, magazines and articles written about fly fishing and fly fishing for trout. There is nothing I can add to any of these resources other than to say "when planning your next fishing trip don't overlook Arkansas for world-class trout fishing." It is not difficult to fly fish from a boat--that is one of the reasons why riverboats or jon boats in this part of the world are 20 ft in length. The Norfork and White Rivers both offer excellent fly fishing--it's your choice boats or waders, as always there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Most fly fishing guides will offer both boat and wade fishing if river conditions will permit wading. Most trout docks, bait shops and tackle stores can generally provide you with any specific information you may need relating to patterns and such.
Catch and Release Areas
The State Game and Fish Commission has set aside certain areas of the White and Norfork Rivers to preserve and promote the growth of larger (trophy) fish. These areas are identified with large signs located on both sides of the river or stream at the beginning and ending of each area. In general, the regulations for fishing these areas are as follows: Taken from the Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook 2009--Trout must be released immediately. Only artificial lures with a single barbless hooking point may be used (natural or scented baits are not allowed). Chumming is not allowed.
Make a Barbless Hook
To make a hook barbless, crimp the hook barb to the hook's shank with a pair of needlenose pliers. When crimped completely, the hook is smooth and will not snag when passed through cloth.
Estimate the Weight of Your Trophy Fish
While fishing Trophy areas, there may come a time when weighing a fish just can't be done with scales. The next best thing would be to estimate the fish's weight using the following formula. Wt. = (Length * Girth * Girth) / 680. Ex. Lenght = 22.5 inches, Girth = 12.5, then Weight of fish = (22.5 * 12.5 * 12.5) / 680 = 5.17 pounds. These illustrations were taken from the 2009 Arkansas Trout Fishing Guidebook, published by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.