Throughout Canada and the Northern United States, trout fishermen gather their vests and tackle boxes, rods and reels, and head out for the opening weekend of trout fishing at their favourite honey holes. Opening day is almost a religion in Canada, and many fishermen camp out, and throw their lines in the water at 1 second past midnight on opening day. With many different species of trout, the favourite most often being the speckled, or brook trout, the trout fisherman is more of a purist, and if not a fly fisherman, then most likely an ultra-light gear user, more interested in the fight than the picture or the meal.
The best live bait for trout fishing are usually the insects, flies and worms that are indigenous to the waters and shorelines where you are fishing. The best live bait for trout fishing can also be dictated by weather, water clarity and temperature, as well as the time of year. Crayfish may work much better in mid-summer, where mayflies may work much better in the fall. The smarter constant fisherman will bring an assortment of live baits, for when one is not working, another may warrant major strikes with almost every cast.
Overall, the best live baits for trout fishing, not necessarily sub-species specific, are crayfish, flies, frogs, insects, mice (small), minnows, slugs, and, of course, worms. Worms are something that should be brought on every trout fishing trip, because if they are not striking on flies, lures and minnows, they will always strike at a worm, especially when it is trailing a shiny leader spoon. Trout eggs, presented as sacks, are a very successful bait for use just after the spawning seasons. In rivers or lakes where trout and salmon coexist, using salmon eggs is actually a better live bait alternative for catching trout than using trout eggs.
Just finding the trout is half of the battle, as there are many factors that go into whether or not a trout will bite, let alone be in any specific location. For many trout, the thickness of cloud cover, air and water temperatures, water clarity and temperature, and strong weather systems will dictate whether or not they will strike your offerings. However, there are trout that have found nice homes and stick close to them, and can become very territorial, striking hard and fighting harder when the hook is set, trying to protect their home. For these types of strikes, live bait is usually best, to instigate a fight between your bait and the aggressive trout, but split-minnow lures can work wonders.
Most fishermen have their favourite trout lures and live bait, and carry them no matter where or when they go fishing. But, they will also bring along a variety of trout lures and baits, just in case their favourites are not producing. A trout may be more inclined to attack a small red worm one day, a huge night crawler the next day, and something else the next day. The colors of the bait, clarity of the water and weather systems all have effects on what a trout may strike at, so having a variety of colors is essential when fishing for trout, with silver, red and chartreuse being the most popular.
One thing that all trout fisherman should be aware of is that when using minnows to fish for trout, only trout minnows are allowed to be used, under terms of the invasive species legislation in Canada and the United States of America. And, if only one type of trout is indigenous to that lake, then only that species of trout minnow can be used. On long rivers, which feed into and out of many lakes, there will be a much more diverse number of fish species, so using minnows for trout fishing in these types of waters are allowed, without worrying about what species of minnow you have.