Chasing rainbows: trout time in Tennessee

Larry Woody • Nov 30, 2017 at 9:30 AM

The popular image of trout fishing is an angler decked out in chest waders, vest, landing net, fly box and other specialized gear, artfully wielding a fly rod on a pristine stream as he tries to coax a fish to rise to a tiny wisp of fur and feathers.

That’s one version.

Another is more attuned to the Average Joe: sitting on a creek bank dunking a gob of worms or canned corn weighted down with a sinker.

The bottom line is that both types of fishermen are trying to catch a trout, and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency’s annual stocking program makes the pursuit possible for thousands of anglers – by whatever tackle and tactics they choose.

The TWRA this weekend begins stocking 100,000 rainbow trout in 40 locations across the state. The stockings will continue through Jan. 28. A list of trout-stocking dates and locations is listed in the Tennessee Fishing Guide.

This year as a special bonus150 albino trout weighing up to three pounds will be included among the 8-12 inch rainbows.

There is a daily limit of seven trout, no size limit, except on certain waters such as the Caney Fork River. Detailed trout regulations are listed in the Fishing Guide.

A special trout license is required except for holders of a Sportsman’s License or Lifetime License. Anyone fishing for trout has to have the trout license even if no trout are kept.

The stocked trout are intended to be caught and kept for eating, since few of the cold-water fish will survive once the waters begin to warm in the spring.

 “Culling” fish – replacing a small trout on a stringer with a bigger one – is discouraged because the released fish probably will not survive and will be wasted.

Like most kinds of fishing, angling for trout can be as simple or as complicated as the individual angler chooses. Stocked trout can be caught on fly rods with flies and streamers, or on spinning tackle with a wide range of lures and baits.

Popular spinning lures include anything that flashes or flutters, including RoadRunners, miniature crank-baits, and Trout Magnets. The latter are small plastic grubs stuck on a lead-head hook and fished below a float. The flow of the current or riffle of a breeze on the surface imparts enough movement to the dangling lure to entice a strike.

In terms of baits, one of the earliest used by trout fishermen was canned yellow corn – two or three kernels impaled on a hook, weighted down with a split shot, and bounced along the bottom. Yellow corn remains an inexpensive and effective trout bait.

Another standard trout bait is salmon eggs, fished the same way as the corn kernels. Salmon eggs are more expensive than canned corn, and harder to keep on a hook.

In recent years an array of commercial trout baits has hit the shelves of sporting goods stores. Some of the most popular are little marshmallow-shaped nuggets of various colors and flavors.

Trout can be picky eaters; at times they seem to prefer one type of lure or bait over the other, so it’s a good idea to carry an assortment of offerings. If the fish aren’t hitting one, try another.

It’s time to go chase a rainbow.

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