Plugs, plugs and more plugs. Big plugs, small plugs, medium plugs, silver plugs, gold plugs, realistic plugs, and quite a few not so realistic plugs floating plus, count down plus and sinking ones.
Where to begin?
When you are standing in front of the great wall of plugs at your local fishing store, ask your self what will I be fishing for? For today’s discussion we will be targeting wild trout that live in the Sierra streams. So now we have a starting point!
A brand name plug can set you back seven or more dollars, so I limit my the colors I buy.
Only buy as Yukon Cornelius would say…….silver and gold.
Silver works well on sunny days with clear water where gold is best on over cast or in stained water.
Another variable is does the water shed you are going to fish have reproducing rainbows or browns? If it only has browns that reproduce in the river only use gold. Remember you are targeting wild fish, and if that big brown trout is going to be tempted you must offer familiar fare.
Next question, how large are the fish? The fish I want to catch are 16 plus inches, so I want to use a NO. 5 Rapalla. To a No. 9. Yes that is a big plug but a large trout would prefer have a large meal than a small one, it takes the same amount of energy for the native fish to chase its snack, the bigger meal has more calories. Sierra Trout spend the spring, summer and fall to get fat. Easy large meals make the trout fatter with less energy expended.
A simpler way to remember what size to buy is, small streams use small plugs and big streams (rivers) use large plugs.
How fast is the river moving, you can check a rivers water flow from your house. The internet has government sites that provide CFS (cubic feet per second) readings on most any California river. If the river is moving faster than the site calls normal, (the site will proved a chart that will give you that information) I will use a Rapalla CD-5 or a sinking No. 5. The idea is the faster the river the fish will hold in the rocks and will not move out into the current. For slower water use a Rapalla F-5 (floating). When using a CD (count down) you need to be on the bottom, where the big boys hang out.
Wild Trout survive by not getting caught by predators. Where are the predators? For the larger fish, they come from above….that’s includes the fisherman. When walking along the rivers edge you can move like a cat and think you will not be noticed, but you will be. I recommend, walking a rivers edge and when you see a spot you want to cast to, sit down without moving in a spot you can cast from for 10 minutes. This gives the fish enough time to forget about you. Yes it takes more time to cover a long stretch of river but it’s a day to relax and enjoy the outdoors, not a track meet.
You now have a Rappala CD-5 tied to four pound test line on a seven foot rod, sitting for 10 minutes. Your first cast should be to the deepest hole. You want your plug to look like a small fish that just made a big mistake by swimming into the open. That means NO dead floating your plug, bring it back to you at a good clip. We don’t want the lunker that is lurking in the depth to have time to think, we want it to react. If you do not get a hit within the first five casts, move on. You want to cover as much water as possible.
BEWARE: CD’s sink to were the fish live, but so do logs and rocks. You must be prepared with enough plus because you will loose a few. If you are thinking about going into the water to retrieve a hung up plug (not recommended), first go to the opposite side of the snag and pull firmly. Many times it will come loose. Do NOT reel for you will put a twist in your line.