The Best Trout Bait
There's no simple answer to what makes the best trout bait as there are too many variables involved. In talking about trout bait, live or dead bait is usually what is meant, whether it be an insect, a worm, a marshmallow, or something that's been dipped in a special concoction.
We can't ignore artificial flies, spoons, or spinners, or other lures completely. On a given fishing expedition, especially one which may last for several days and take you to several locations, it's often necessary to try a little bit of everything to see what's working and what isn't.
When you're casting or trolling, flies or artificial lures, respectively, often work best if for no other reason than live bait sometimes has a tendency to fall of the hook or simply come apart. One can only get so much use out of a worm before it divides into two worms and comes off the hook. For still fishing or bottom fishing however, trout bait is hard to beat.
Sight And Smell, Mostly The Latter - Trout rely on both sight and smell when searching for food, but mainly on their sense of smell. Artificial lures won't usually work well in murky water or on dark days, and fish often spook easily, especially in shallow streams on very bright days. Add to the fact that fish seldom feed at night, the use of artificial lures, while admittedly the most popular method, does have certain limitations whereas live or dead bait does not. Another disadvantage of using a spoon or an artificial fly is trout tend to be choosy at times, and may strike at a certain type or color of lure while ignoring everything else. If you have that particular lure, you're in luck. If you get it snagged and loose it, and don't have another of the same lure, you're out of luck, and wishing you'd brought some worms along.
Natural And Not Quite So Natural Food - It seems a little strange that worms make such great trout bait, since worms, particularly earthworms are not normally a part of the trout's diet. The only answer is, it must be the scent. Crayfish, crickets, and grasshoppers also are very popular, with trout fisherman and with the trout themselves.
While worms are hard to beat, salmon eggs and minnows also are great for trout fishing. In places where salmon spawn, the eggs are a natural food for trout, although the trout will take to a salmon egg or a cluster of them even if it’s never seen one before. As far as minnows are concerned, they are also a natural food. Trout love to eat small fish, even if those small fish are small trout. The only drawback that minnows have is they need to be kept alive to be effective, something not always that easy to do if your favorite lake takes a 4 hour hike to get to.
Lake Trout - Where trout bait really comes into its own is when fishing for lake trout. These fish need cold water to survive, and during the hot summer months tend to congregate in deeper waters where the water remains cold. In deep waters the trout will rely even more on its sense of smell to find food than on sight, as there is less light, although a flasher or spinner can often be effective in attracting fish to the bait. When the fish are in the shallows in the spring or fall, flies or other artificial lures often work just fine. Even though there's no denying that fly fishing for trout is challenging, fun, and rewarding, and for some there is no other way to fish, for trout, and especially lake trout, it's hard to beat worms, minnows, or insects.