Trolling is a great tactic for trout in warm weather

I often fish for trout in the winter, but now is also a great time to fish for big brown trout on the Little Red and White Rivers.

Planning a springtime trout fishing trip can be challenging because water conditions are so unpredictable. Right now, for example, Lake Bull Shoals is about 682 feet high, roughly 23 feet above the full pool. To make room in the reservoir for rain and runoff, the Corps of Engineers evacuates a lot of water through the Paul Shoals Dam.

This means that the water is generally very fast and high in tail water. This is about ruling out coarse fishing. You will almost certainly have to fish from a boat, but that’s not a bad thing. The great brown trout goes high water fishing, and you can catch it at any time of the day.

There are several ways to catch brown trout in high water. Fly catchers can target great brown trout by pouring streamers, crawfish patterns, or mouse patterns onto the bank while drifting parallel to the bank. If the water is cloudy, you can improve your chances by focusing on clear pockets opposite the bank.

My favorite tactic is trolling against the current. It constantly produces big fish, but there is an art and a way to do this.

Firstly, it is very difficult to phish effectively in very difficult streams. Trolling against six to eight generators in Bull Shoals Tailwater puts a lot of pressure on the jerkbait to function properly. Even at the slowest crawl, excessive current will prevent the bait from sinking.

Also, a heavy current always puts a lot of vegetation in the water. If there’s junk in the water, you’ll spend more time pulling greens from your bait than you actually spend fishing.

Trolling glows at moderate current. The prickly bait can dive deep and sway the way it should, bouncing off the rocks and digging into the gravel.

The Bull Shoals Tailwater is a large system that offers endless places to fish. My favorite stretch is between the Buffalo Shoal and the mouth of Crooked Creek. I like it so much that I neglect other parts of the river. Ray Tucker prefers the clip between the Boswell Shoal and the mouth of Sylamore Creek. We catch a lot of great rainbow trout in that area, but there is a certain bank where we always catch a few browns at sunset.

When trolling, I mainly target rocks. Barely making headway, I make sure my temptation runs directly behind and in the rocks. I’m also cruising in all the deep water beside the steep banks. This is where I usually catch trout.

There is a certain spot that I can always count on catching a big fish. It is on the edge of a deep pit above a wide flat of gravel. Stack the trout in the drop. The first two or three passes always catch rainbow trout, but eventually the brownie will jump into the fight. Only then do I continue to climb into the field of rock.

Below the gravel flat is a narrow path that flows alongside a series of boat docks. I never thought about this trout until January when I hung out, landed, and released a 28-inch brown trout.

The Shoestring Shoal is usually a good place to catch rainbows. There are many big whirlpools where you can hook the trees. The water is relatively calm there, which allows you to submerge the prepared baits to the bottom using Dipsey plungers.

The Crooked Creek estuary is a good spot for high water trout fishing as well. The mouth of the creek is very deep and calm. It’s too deep for a stick fish, really, so always keep a small shad rap and a deep dive to get to where the big fish lies.

From there, I walk around the creek for about a mile until the water is very shallow. Lots of Smallmouth Bass inhabit these waters, so Tucker and I always kept a Whopper Plopper on hand for magical spells at Smallmouth School.

When leaving the creek, I like to float downstream with a drag string out to slow the drift and keep the bow pointed upstream. I have two sections of chain connected by bungee cords. If the chain gets stuck on a rock, the bungee acts as a shock absorber and prevents the boat from coming to a sudden stop.

While drifting, I would throw the gyroscopes and get them back like I do with the bass.

All of these strategies combined make for an exciting day. I never feel disappointed.

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