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Tips for successful trout fishing

Jim Matthews
Outdoor Editor

Rigging for Trout

The Floating Bait Rig


The most effective way to catch trout at The Lakes is to use a sliding sinker rig and one of the prepared floating baits such as Eagle Claw Nitro Bait. The rig is very simple. Take a small egg-shaped sinker and slip it on your main fishing line. Tie the end of the line to a small barrel swivel (without a snap attached), and then tie on 18 to 24-inches of two- to four-pound test leader material to the other end of the swivel. It is best to use leader material is lighter in breaking strength than your regular fishing line. To the end of the leader, tie on a No. 16 or 18 treble hook. Mold a small ball of floating bait around the treble hook, just covering all of the hook points. Use as light a sinker and swivel as possible that will still allow you to cast a good distance from shore with your fishing gear. Using two- to four-pound test line on spinning tackle generally allows for longer casts and the use of 1/16 to 1/8th ounce egg sinkers. If you have six- or eight-pound test line on your reel, you can still use this rig with 1/4-ounce sinkers, but you need to use lighter leader (two- to four-pound test) material to attach to your swivel and hook.



This same type of rigging can be used with an inflated nightcrawler, only you should use a size No. 6, 8 or 10 baitholder-style hook, depending on the size of your nightcrawlers. For “dillies” use the smaller No. 10 hook, while with regular nightcrawlers, the No. 6 or No. 8 sizes are better. The hook is placed lightly just under the skin through the collar on the bait. A worm inflator (available at most sporting goods stores with instructions for their use) is used to add air under the skin of the worm so that it floats up off the bottom.



After casting out, this rig should be fished with an open bail on your spinning reel. Many anglers believe the bait should be kept in one spot so the trout can find it by sight and scent, while other anglers move the bait a foot or two per minute, working the bait back in slowly, and reopening the bail each time they move the bait. Very often the trout cruise at a certain depth, and by moving the bait, you can often fish where the fish are hanging out. Always keep the rod in your hands and as soon as the trout starts taking line, close the bail and set the hook in a single motion.



Adding scents to all of these baits is not a bad idea. Nitro Gravy is a popular add-on, but there are dozens of others on the market, and many anglers simply douse their baits with garlic oil from the super market. All add-on scents serve two purposes — attracting the trout and masking the human scent that gets on the bait and hooks from your hands.

Lure Rigging


There are two types of lures that are effective at The Lake. The in-line spinners like Roostertails and Panther Martins and the small jigs originally designed for crappie. The spinners are the easiest to fish. You can tie them directly to your fishing line or put a snap-swivel on the fishing line and then clip the lure into the snap. This also reduces line twist. In either case, you simply cast the lure out, allow it to sink near the bottom (if you start picking up weeks or get snagged, you’re fishing too deeply) and the simply reel it back in. Vary your speed to see which speed the trout prefer that day. Sometimes they prefer slowly-retrieved lures (this is especially true in cold water) and other times a lure that moves quickly gets their attention. If you see fishing breaking the water’s surface, begin retrieving as soon as the lure hits the water. The key to success is to experiment with speed and depth you fish the lure until you are successful.



With spinners you can use heavier line than with the floating bait rig, but most anglers still do not recommend line heavier than six-pound test because it kills the action of the lure.



Fishing small jigs requires more skill, more finesse. If fishing a spinner is like walking around the block, jig fishing is like doing the tango around the block. But once you learn the dance, you’ll be a big hit with the trout. Small jigs may be the most effective fishing lures or baits used at The Lakes. It seems like the smaller the jig you can fish, the more effective they are at catching the trout. Mini Jigs and Finger Jigs are two of the most popular brands, but there are many others. The 1/16-ounce size is the largest veteran jig fishermen recommend, and the 1/32- and 1/64th-ounce sizes get more play.



Jigs this size almost mandate that you fish ultra-light line in the two- to four-pound test range. There are two primary ways to fish the small jigs. The most popular method is to tie the line directly to the jig, cast it out, allow it to sink to the desired depth (often the bottom), and then retrieve the lure in a dancing, bouncing motion. This can be done at a variety of speeds, but in each case the lure is popped up through in the water column with a snap of the wrist and then allowed to fall slowly back down. Then the jig is snapped up again, and then allowed to fall. The speed and depth is varied until you find what the fish prefer.



The erratic motion of the jig attracts the trout. Fished this way, the small jigs actually look very much like a tiny, wounded minnow. The bigger trout that have been in the lake for more than a few days have started feeding on the lake’s natural shad and minnows and these jigs are a dinner bell for the trout, often enticing them when other methods fail.



If the erratic motion doesn’t attract the trout, try a steady retrieve, but move your rod from side to side while reeling in the jig so it swims smoothly through the water but changes direction frequently.



The second method used to fish jigs is with a bobber or float. You can use a variety of floats, but one of the most versatile method is to use a tiny, clear bubble float. This float is egg-shaped and has a plastic tube that runs through the center of the float. The tube can be pulled out and the float filled with water to give it more weight for casting. The fishing line is run through the tube and a jig tied to the end of the line. Many anglers add rubber “bobber stops” ahead of the jig and above the float on the main fishing line. The bobber stops catch at the bubble and prevent more line from moving through the float. This allows you to set minimum and maximum depths where the jig will be in the water. When this rig is cast out, the jig will sink either to the bottom or to the depth where you have placed a bobber stop. The bubble or float will remain on the surface when you cast, allowing you to fish a specific area precisely. Most anglers then simply twitch the jig ever so slightly to get it to dance up and down an inch or two. If this method doesn’t get the fishes attention, you can make the jig swim greater distances up toward the float and then fall back down. Often a cruising trout will rush over to a jig that rises up a foot or two in the water and then snap up the lure as it falls back toward the bottom. This is especially effective when the bottom has weed cover and the trout thinks the prey is escaping as it falls. These methods are very effective when trout are holding in a specific area or cruising along an edge or weed line and you want to keep the jig in that zone. The bubble float allows the jig to be danced more effectively and stay stationary in that zone better than small clip-on bobbers.



Clip-on bobbers, however, are also effective. When the wind is ruffling the water, a simple clip-on bobber allows the jig to hang at the depth you set. The wave action makes the lure dance up and down, requiring almost no effort on the part of the angler.

Jig Tips


— Scents are essential. There are dozens of different fish attractants on the market, but most jig fishermen spray or dip their lures in scents like Nitro Grease.



— Many of the better jig anglers at the lakes fish from a boat or float tube because they like using jigs too light to cast any distance, even with two-pound test line. The boat allows them to get out where the fish are cruising and they can use the boat to help play out line. The boat or tube also allows them to position themselves so the lure can be retrieved along weed lines or drop-offs instead of across them, as they most likely would do from shore.



— There are times when anglers can see trout holding in deeper water, especially near where there is flowing water. Dancing a jig right in front of their nose, vertical jigging style from a boat or off the tip of a long rod from shore, will often result in a strike.



— You can actually adjust how fast or slowly the jig falls through the water by varying both the weight of the jig and pound test of your line. Some regulars at The Lake carry jigs in several weights and sizes, and some even have spools filled with different line weights so they can experiment.



— The rule of thumb is that the colder the water the smaller and slower you fish your jig.



— The best jig color is white or pearl, but you should carry jigs in a variety of colors. Sometimes freshly-planted trout prefer bright colors — orange or chartreuse — and dark colors — black or brown — will often be the most productive on cloudy days or at dawn and dusk.



— It is important that you use fresh line that is not frayed. Hooking an eight or 10+ pound trout is likely on a small jig at The Lakes, landing one that size on such light line requires a light touch and fresh line.



Remember, good fishermen will usually always catch fish because they try different techniques throughout the day until they find the one which is working best. As conditions change throughout the day, so should your technique.



Hopefully, this information should give any fisherman a good technical start. If you are not catching fish, try something different or move to a new spot. The fish are there, these Lakes are stocked with more fish than any other lakes around.



Please be respectful to the other fishermen, and don’t take more than your limit.


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Trout Worms – How to use them and why the work so well

NOTICE: Inflatable Navy, and want to be Navy Members, we are now an official Outcast Float tube dealer and we should have some basic inventory in stock shortly. We are working out details for a special offer and if you would like to be notified, please send us an email with your contact information to aaron@www.fishinglakes.com



WOW – Here is another fantastic piece of work just put together by Aaron, (sapdawg11) which he posted on FNN.  We thought you would enjoy learning some of his trout catching secrets.

Super job Aaron, you have many talents. It’s no wonder your a great fisherman. THANK YOU for being so generous with your information and the time it took to put this together. I know many that fish Corona Lake really appreciate your help.



Techniques for fishing the trout worm at Corona Lake
Pics, Vids, and some good sound!


The rubber worm has found broad application in fishing ranging from ripping the kelp for calico’s off of our coast to catching “bucketmouths” and winning national bass tournaments in inland lakes.  But today, we are specifically going to discuss the tiniest of the rubber worm “species”…the trout worm.


Ah yes, the trout worm.  My “love affair” with these small slivers of plastic began in the eastern Sierra.  Sitting on Lake Mary with my dad, we pulled on fish after fish and even managed to wrangle a 6 pound Alpers into the boat as the sun dipped below the skyline.  Nothing can kickstart an affinity for a specific bait like using it during an amazing day of fishing with your dad.  And nothing can keep that romance alive like having that bait produce many more epic days thereafter!


The slip bobber thread was so much fun to put together and the responses to that thread were so great that I decided to do it again with a new topic of interest!  Since the water out at Corona Lake began to clear a few weeks ago, I picked up my jiggin’ stick and have been getting absolutely ripped on the plastic worms.  While I have been out there, I’ve met some really cool people that after chatting a bit, simply came out and asked me, “Can you show me what you’re doing?”  “OF COURSE!”  The greatest thing to see was that after a quick tutorial, these people were catching fish!  And after a few pm’s asking very similar questions to those being asked out on the water, I thought that I would do my best to put some info up here.  The point of this is to share with my hands down favorite forum on the web how I fish Corona Lake using trout worms.  I FIRMLY believe that this can be THE most productive tool in your fishing arsenal, just as it is in mine.  And the best part about fishing for trout with a plastic worm is…IT’S NOT HARD and you can definitely pick it up with minimal instruction.  And that instruction is what I’m hoping I can provide. 


I’m going to do my best to break it down…rods, reels, rigs, and methods…so that you can get out there and show ME how it’s done!  As with everything I write, this is all entirely my opinion and I absolutely encourage everyone to take what I’m saying and tweak it until they find what works for them.  The point is to give the newbies out there a starting point, to give the experienced angler a few additional tools that they can utilize, and for the “Corona Lake pros”, I hope that you enjoy the pictures and few short videos as I’m sure everything I am saying will come as “old hat”!!  So with that, let’s get started.  And let’s do so by talking about fundamental pieces of equipment that we are ALL familiar with…the rod and reel.



Reels and jiggin’ sticks


I, like most fishermen, really enjoy shopping for rods and reels.  Over the course of my fishing career, I’ve amassed an assemblage of these items so dense that my wife can’t help but laugh.   And to quell the laughter, I explain to her that these pieces of equipment are workable pieces of art that carry with them memories of fish caught and times had…and she still laughs.  But at least [B][U]I know[/U][/B] that they are the tools we use to convey the motion to the lures we present and absorb the thumps of the bruisers we catch.  As with any tool, there is a proper rod and reel for every job.  And thus, to find the proper rod, you have to understand the job.  If you want to make your worm twitch, jump, thump, and turn, you supply the energy to do so.  And to do this properly requires a small, smooth reel attached to a longer rod with a soft tip.  Now that’s not so specific is it???  Well let’s break it down then!


Reel size is the simplest place to begin.  And to state it quite simply, I have not found a reason to use anything larger than a 1000 size reel.  A 1000 will hold about 270 yards of 2 pound test or 140 yards of 4 pound test for those that like the thicker “rope” (a size 750 will hold about 240/2lb and 120/4lb, and a size 500 about 190/2lb and 100/4lb).  This is more than enough line and unless you like paying for a bunch of fishing line you will never utilize for anything other than backing, there is no need for a larger spool.  Beyond line capacity, these are the smallest, lightest reels that you can find and having a compact and lightweight reel is a definite advantage with something you will be bouncing and twitching for most of the day. 


In terms of spinning reel manufacturers, I am strictly a Shimano guy.  I no longer even consider the other reel manufacturers though I’m sure they make some GREAT stuff.  I operate under the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” code and my Shimano spinners simply never break!  Shimano has not compensated me in any way in the past nor do I see them doing so in the foreseeable future.  I truly, simply, honestly REALLY like these reels.  The drags have never let me down, they are amazingly smooth on the retrieve, and they just last and last.  But, truth be told…get what you can afford.  Go to your local tackle shop with a price range in mind and play with all of the “toys” in that range (trust me, don’t stray above your range in the store!).  The only stipulation I would make is that you should choose a reel in the 500-1000 size range. 


Rods are actually a fairly easy choice as well.  You want to choose a longer rod with a fast action that will suit the weight of lures that you are going to present.  All of the rods I use to jig trout worms are at least 6’6”, have a fast action, are rated for ultralight fishing and are made of graphite rather than fiberglass.  Fiberglass rods have a little too much flex in the tip for me but that’s just my personal preference.  I know a lot of people that are partial to jigging with fiberglass rods.  


Most “jiggin’ sticks” will have short handles as moving the reel back on the rod results in more action from the rod tip with less movement from your hand.  Additionally, you will often see people (including myself) using split grips as this is a great way to shed a little weight from your rod without sacrificing comfort or performance. 


I am a firm believer in purchasing quality rods.  Since I began wrapping rods about 7 years ago, I immediately noticed the difference in quality between the economy blanks vs. the higher end models.  But again, get what you can afford as the most important thing is just getting out on the water, not what equipment you have in your hand.


I figure that it may be helpful to share a few of my setups so I’ve put together the picture below.  It gives you the specs of what I bring out there with me just about every time I’m working the trout worm:



So you’ve got a 1000 size reel on a 7’ ultralight rod and are ready to rumble…but WAIT!  Tailwalkers don’t bite rods and reels, they bite plastic worms!  So let’s go there next and talk about the types and rigs available to us for fishing these little gems…


Plastic worms


I want to begin by discussing plastic worm brands.  For the sake of some form of brevity, we’ll stick to the three main brands of worms that I see trout fisherman using here in So Cal:  Berkley Powerworms, Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz, and Eagle Claw/Nitro Crawlers. 



In that picture you see that I’ve purposely shown three open bags to let you know that I use ALL of these products.  You’ll soon see that while looking very similar, these plastic worms are distinctly different in their size, buoyancy and action.  These differences result in each of these products having optimal opportunities for use among the broad set of situations we are presented with as anglers.  If you use one of these brands religiously than that is great, but what often happens when you stick to one particular bait is that you find good days as well as bad days where that bait will and will not work respectively.  By expanding your tackle box to incorporate some of these other varieties you can without a doubt increase your number of “good days” by filling in the gaps where the fish seem to refuse to eat what you are used to throwing.  There is a series of videos (set to some good sounds), photos, and text in this section to demonstrate what each of these varieties of plastics is capable of.  The only thing you’ll have to do is recognize those situations “in the wild” and apply what you see/read here correctly!  Easy, right???


All three of the brands discussed herein are similarly sized, but when talking about a small plastic worm, a 1” difference in overall length can mean all of the difference in the world!  From smallest to largest the list goes: Eagle Claw Crawler (2 1/8”), Berkley Powerworm (2 1/2”), and then the Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz (3 1/8”).  The maximum diameter of these worms is pretty much the same (all have a diameter of approximately 1/8”).  What differs is that the Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz maintain a constant diameter while the Eagle Claw Crawlers and Berkley Powerworms thicken and thin throughout the length of the worm. 




The length of your trout worm can and definitely does make a difference.  You may notice one day that the fish want tiny baits and maybe on another day they are looking for something big.  To find out, you simply have to experiment until you find what works.  The old adage that “big bait equals big fish” does NOT hold true in Corona Lake.  I’ve caught some monster fish out there on teeny tiny baits.  What truly works is putting the right bait in front of the right fish.  And the definition of the “right bait” includes a bait being the right size!


The buoyancy, or how well a worm floats, will affect where in the water column the bait wants to stay as well as the bait’s action.  The differences in buoyancy between these three baits presents an excellent “gradient of floatation” that we can exploit so that we are keeping our baits in the prime areas longer, whether that be up high or right on the bottom.  Here is a short video that will show you really quick which worm floats the highest and which one will drag the lowest…

The Eagle Claw Crawler is BY FAR the most buoyant worm, followed by the Berkley Powerworm, making the Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz the densest of the bunch.  So what does that mean for your fishing?  Well first, it will affect how your bait presents itself to the fish.  The Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz are going to fall more quickly through the water column while the Eagle Claw Crawler will stay at the upper depth limit that your leader will allow. The Berkley worms will also eventually settle out (despite the words “floating” being put on the packaging, the weight of a hook causes it to sink) but will do so much more slowly. 

So how do you apply this?  Let’s go through a few examples.  Let’s say that the fish are holding somewhere in the middle of the water column, but they will only hit a bait that is presented VERY slowly.  If you try to slow fish the Berkley Powerworm or the Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz, your bait WILL eventually be on the bottom and that could mean: a) no bites and/or b) getting weeded up.  Obviously the choice bait would be the Nitro Crawlers.  On the other hand, maybe your noticing that the fish are hitting your bait when you pause it and let it fall a little bit through the water column, then you’d have to go with either the Berkley or Lip Ripperz products as they will sink for you.  Using a Nitro Crawler in that situation simply would not work.


“You’ve got to give your bait lots of action…”, “This bait has wild action…”, “Look at the action on that bait”…We’ve all heard it, but what the heck do all of those catchphrases mean?

When I think of “action”, I think of the degree to which a bait moves around itself.  What I mean is, when someone says, “this bait has a lot of action”, they mean that relatively little input on your part will result in a lot of movement on the bait’s part.  So if you twitch your rod tip, a REALLY active bait will jump, twitch, fold, and/or roll on itself.

Often times I think that a bait with a TON of action catches more fisherman than it does fish.  Not at all do I mean that an “active” bait is a bad thing.  What I mean is that to me, “more action” does NOT equal “better bait”.  As with everything we’ve discussed thus far, there is an appropriate time for everything and action is no exception to this rule.

Here is a video demonstrating the types of action we can expect from each of the three plastic worms discussed herein.  The baits are all rigged on 2lb test, a few inches above a 1/4 oz dropshot weight in first wacky and then threaded format (which we’ll discuss further in a bit).  Try to pick out the subtleties as to how different these baits “behave”.  Remember, the difference between wide open and skunked sometimes lies on a fine line drawn by connecting the finest details!

As you can see, each of the plastic worms moves differently through the water which at this point in the thread should be making you think, “if these baits all move differently, then that movement must have an appropriate time and place!”  And to that I say BINGO!!! 

Because of the Nitro Crawler’s buoyancy, it likes to “pop” as it is lifted off the bottom.  Note that because this bait wants the end opposite the hook to be up, I recommend running it threaded onto your hook the majority of the time.  The opposite is true for the Lip Ripperz Trout Wormz.  The length and flexibility of this bait means that I will typically fish this rigged in a “Wacky rigged” format and will try to get the two limbs of the bait really “clapping” together.  Running this bait wacky will also cause it to fall more slowly through the water column when paused. 

There are a ton of subtle differences that you can pick out in that video.  The point of showing you them is so that you can keep them in the back of your mind while you are trying to figure out EXACTLY what the fish want.

In general, a rule of thumb that you can apply is: the calmer it is, the less jumping around you will want from your plastic worm.  When Corona Lake is a mirror, I will fish a Nitro Crawler mind-numbingly SLOW.  When the wind picks up, I may switch to a Lip Ripperz or a Berkley Powerworm.  This rule is a generalization and will NOT always hold true.  But it’s a starting point for those looking for one. 

“Action” really is the “experimental zone”.   To find what’s working, you’ll need to throw each of these brands out there, and to throw each of these out there, all you will need is to have them in your tackle box!  Switching between these baits is easy as they are all rigged similarly, which is exactly what we’re going to talk about next…RIGGING!

Rigging your plastic worm

You’ve got your rod and reel and a diverse set of plastic worms and at this point you say, “we can go catch fish now, right?”  WRONG young grasshopper!  Now we have to connect these two critical elements in a format that as many fish as possible will find enticing enough to want to eat. 

To give you the punch line first and to satisfy the needs of those that don’t feel like reading my endless droning, this entire section will refer to all of the aspects of the image shown below…


What that image shows are the primary ways that you will see people rigging their plastic worms FOR JIGGING out at Corona Lake.  There are so many variations on these themes involving strike indicators, plastic bubbles, fly lining, “powermouses” etc., that I could not even begin to list them all here.  These are simply a starting point for those that want to learn how to “jig the worm”.

There are two main methods of rigging your trout worm for jigging: Splitshotting and Dropshotting.  The only difference between the two methods is where you put your weight.  When splitshotting, the weight is above your worm and when dropshotting, the weight is below your worm.  While this may seem like an insignificant difference, it means all sorts of things for how your worm behaves when you fish it.

When you work the dropshot, you are in constant contact with your bait as long as the line is taught.  That means that every time you twitch that rod, your worm jumps.  And it does so at a specified depth defined by how far you place your weight below your worm.  If you set the weight twelve inches below your bait, your worm will be no more than twelve inches off of the bottom at all times.  To dropshot correctly, you will need to know the Palomar Knot.  Using it ensures that your bait is presented correctly and also provides a strong connection so that you avoid losing fish.  You can see that I’ve labeled the “Palomar Knot” connections in the diagram above.  And I found the nifty little diagram below to show you how to tie it.

Different from dropshotting, splitshotting does not keep you in constant contact with your bait and the depth at which you fish is more a function of the speed of your retrieve rather than the length of your leader.  If while splitshotting you twitch your rod and the worm jumps towards you, your next “twitch” may or may not result in a jump from your bait.  Further, because your bait is “dangling” behind your splitshot, it is working a potentially wider range of depths than your dropshot rig would be working.

So once again, different techniques with different applications.  I generally will start off with the splitshot and if it seems they are close to the bottom, will switch to the dropshot.  But yet again, that’s just me. 

So now that you have the general methods, let’s go through the entire setup, starting with the line and moving towards the “business end” of this little shindig!


Line rating is one of the most discussed topics that I see on this forum.  Everything from “I weave hairs pulled from the legs of spiders to create the finest line imaginable” to “I use 2 ton rope and still haul them in by the truckload.”  It seems that there is no “right answer” so to answer this for myself, I turn to science.

By the sheer laws of physics, the chemical makeup of the line held constant, the thinner (ie the smaller the diameter) the line is, the more difficult it will be to see, the less the surrounding water will be disturbed, and thus the more natural your bait will behave.  And that is what we are all trying to create right?  A natural appearing bait.  But there is obviously a trade-off.  You are not only trying to provoke strikes, you are attempting to reel in fish and to do so, you need a line that is capable of absorbing the shock of having 2 animals do battle on the opposing ends of a piece of string.  So where is the happy medium?

To reference the “rods and reels” section, I have spent a bunch of money to have really nice equipment and I did not just do that because my wallet was too heavy.  I did it because I know those products will perform above and beyond what would normally be expected.  That being said, I ONLY fish 2 lb test and refuse to fish anything heavier.  I can also say that I’ve pulled on a bunch of large trout on 2 pound test out at Corona…

…and I have yet (and as I type I am knocking on every piece of wood I can find) to break off a large fish jigging worms on that setup.  AND what’s a little bit fun is that many of the big fish I’ve pulled up have had their mouths loaded with line that had to have been rated for towing a Buick!  BUT, for those that really are wary of fishing such light string, I would recommend fishing no heavier than 4lb test. 

Terminal tackle

While a fish does not wish to eat lead or steel, the lead and steel you use will drastically impact your catch rate.  The terminal tackle setup I use is amazingly simple…a hook and a sinker.  No swivels.  No sliding eggs.  A simple hook and a sinker is quick, easy, and most importantly, EFFECTIVE! 

I will ALWAYS use a size 10, single barbed hook while jigging the worm.  I used to buy the Owner size 10 mosquito hooks but quickly learned that they: a) have a short “life span” and will often straighten when they are removed from a fish, forcing replacement and a retie, b) like to slide up my worm because they lack small barbs up the shank, and c) like to come unbuttoned from fish more frequently than the standard #10 hooks that you can pick up just about anywhere.  My solution is that I buy a $1.99 package of #10, single barbed hooks from the bait shop at the lake and that pack lasts me…oh…just about…THE ENTIRE SEASON.  I love Owner products and use them extensively in the salt but I no longer use the mosquito hooks when jigging worms for the reasons listed above.  The #10 single barbed hooks available at the bait shop stick fish just fine, my worms stay in place, they are cheap and they last me fish after fish after fish. 

For weight, I use size BBB – #5 splitshots.  I use splitshots for both “splitshotting” as well as “dropshotting”.  They do make lead specifically for dropshotting, however, I find that the splitshot does just fine.  Splitshots are much cheaper, they can be just as easily adjusted , and they are a whole heck of a lot cheaper than dropshotting weights.  By only carrying splitshots, it also means that you are carrying less gear that needs to be organized.  Corona Lake is a pretty shallow lake and you can fish it very effectively with very little weight.  I do my best to take advantage of that by only carrying the “splitters”!


We’ve already gone through worms in detail so no need to do that again.  But do note that there are two primary methods of rigging the worms that you may have already noticed in the videos: Threaded and Wacky.  When threading a plastic worm, I try my best to keep it straight on the hook shank.  I want the finished product to look like I glued a hook barb onto the underside of the worm.  In other words, the body of the worm should be straight along the hook shank.  Wacky worming is even easier…Fold the worm in half and stick the hook through the midpoint.  It’s that easy.

Both of these methods are effective and I will readily admit that I cannot yet put any rhyme or reason behind why one works better than the other one day to the next, but on some days, they only want to eat a threaded worm and on others it needs to be rigged wacky.  Who knows…but it’s still a reminder to always be experimenting until you’re catching fish!

All of my favorite colors are shown in the image above: White, Orange, Pink, and Chartreuse.  I do carry other colors with me, but this is always where I’ll start.  The color that the fish are preferring can and does change from day to day so if you are not getting bit after about 15 minutes on one of these colors, switch it up and try something new. 

You’ve got all of the gear, you’ve rigged up your worms, you’re on the water, you cast out your line…now what?  I want to finish this up with a discussion on how to present your bait.  Jigging does NOT imply casting your rig out and waiting for a bite.  It also does not imply dragging your bait slowly while you kick along in your float tube.  “Jigging” means that you are providing action to your bait in order to PROVOKE a bite rather than passively waiting for one to come by.  By provoking strikes, I can absolutely guarantee that you will see your fish counts improve!

There are four fundamental aspects that will go into your jigging:

1)            The speed of your retrieve – “A slow retrieve is a good retrieve” has and will continue to be my mantra.  You should be reeling in a full crank on a 1000 size reel no faster than every three seconds or so.

2)            How often/fast you tap your rod tip –Your rod tip does not need to look like Neal Peart’s drumsticks.  A steady tap of about 1-2 taps per second is all you need.  You should be moving your rod tip about 4-8 inches with each “tap”.

3)            How often you pause your retrieve – During your retrieve, you should take a moment to stop everything and let the bait sit.  You’ll be amazed at how often this provokes a strike.

4)            How often you drag the bait without tapping your rod tip – Often intermittently stopping from tapping the bait and simply dragging the bait will provoke a strike.  This is especially true on calm days.

The perfect combination of these variables changes daily and you need to experiment with all of them in order to find what will provoke strikes.  And to assist you with “changing” it up, here is the “Tap and Drag” chart…the figure caption explains it all…

Remember two additional things…1) you DO NOT reel while you are pulling the rod back and 2) among the “taps” and “drags” you will want to put in some “pauses”.  The taps and drags often work to pull the fish in and take a look.  When you stop the bait, the fish sometimes can’t help but jump all over it!

And for those that prefer video, I put this together to demonstrate exactly what I mean by “tap” and “drag”.  Sure did confuse the neighbors to see me “fishing” in the street!…

Again, it’s that easy.  But practice will definitely make perfect so get out there!

And it all comes down to this…

The ability to get out there and jig the worm is something that all Corona Lake trout fishermen/fisherwomen need to have in their arsenal.  I’ve done my best to explain everything the best I could but as with anything, I’m sure that I left plenty out and you’ll need to fill in a number of gaps that I could never hope to describe in a forum post.  There is simply no substitute for experience.  But now you have the fundamentals at your fingertips.  Apply them, let me know how you do and then teach me what you learn!

This has been a blast to put together.  I hope you all enjoyed it and were able to pull some useful stuff out of it.  Thanks for taking a read!  Feel free to ask anything and everything and I’ll do my best to clear things up.  And most importantly GO GET ‘EM!!!!!!!!!

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Here is a GREAT post one of our regular customers (Aaron) sent in to FNN to help you catch more fish after a hard rain.  His FNN user name is sapdawg11. Thank you Aaron for the time you spent putting this together.  All we can say is WOW what a great job, excellent advice, you are exactly correct. What a great thing to do!!

If any of you see sapdawg11 out on the water, please tell him THANKS!!


Default Techniques for beating the murky water at SARL and Corona…(w/ pics and video!)

One of the greatest aspects of fishing is that one day is never the same as the next. Fishing requires constant adaptation. This has been especially true during this unusually wet 2010-2011 fall/winter season that we’ve experienced thus far here in southern California. Heavy, driving rains have forced tons of sediment into the water columns of our inland lakes turning them a deep, chocolaty brown that only Willy Wonka himself could truly appreciate. So as anglers, we have two choices: 1) Stay home, play on the internet and reminisce about the old, sunny, standard California weather or 2) Adapt and take advantage of the light crowds and overstocked conditions. I will ALWAYS choose 2. Pardon the pun, but the rain requires that we find the silver lining in these clouds. And the most obvious silver lining is that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of California anglers DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CATCH FISH IN THESE TYPES OF CONDITIONS! This means that more people stay home, less fish are caught, and the lakes continue to be stocked. Thus, there are tons of fish in the water and only a few dedicated anglers out there trying to catch them. Does it get any better than that?!

If you caught my last video (12/20/2010 LIMITS in the rain…), you know that I enjoy fishing when the sky is falling. With all of the “murky water” talk going on and as a means of avoiding work, I thought that I would outline what I do to “beat the murk” when the general consensus is that “fishing is tough”. I’m posting this here because Corona Lake and SARL are my freshwater fishing homes. This is where these techniques are tried and true (as recently as last Friday )and some information is specific only to these bodies of water (lake bathymetry, inlets, etc.). We’ll first discuss where in the water column we need to fish. Then we’ll get into a variety of bobber setups that will work in the murky water. Next we’ll talk about scents and we’ll finish things off with a discussion on baits. So sit back and hopefully you’ll enjoy the short video, some images, and a bunch of info! Thanks for taking a read!!

Post rain water conditions – What’s going on in the water?!

To put the current weather pattern in perspective…In a typical December, the majority of southern California will receive approximately 2 inches of rain over the course of the entire month. Last week’s storm…get prepared…brought OVER 8 INCHES OF RAIN in some areas, fulfilling over 1/3 of the average precipitation quota for the region FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. With that insane amount of rain comes increasing lake levels, changes to lake water chemistry, and what we notice most, incredibly murky water. So enough banter…HOW DO WE FISH IT? Oh don’t you worry, I’ll feed you baby birds…

Let’s look at a quick experiment, set to the wonderful music of the White Stripes, to first see WHERE we want to be fishing in the water column.

That’s obviously a time lapsed video. The real length of that footage is about 6 hours. While it will take days for that water to completely clear up, within only a few hours you can already see where you need to be fishing…UP TOP!!! If you are fishing on the bottom, you are fishing in the mud and you are severely limiting your chances of catching fish.

Mentally transform yourself into a big fat tailwalker for just a moment…you’ve spent your entire “pre-stocked” life, from small “fry” to adulthood, in plastic lined containers with crystal clear water and an abundance of food. As the pools you’ve lived in are mostly isolated from outside food sources, you’ve been looking up your entire life for that next meal. So when the water column is separated out as seen in the video above, are you going to swim down, through the murkiest, barely breathable water to forage for food?? NO WAY! You are going to find the clearest water you can and continue to look up for that heavenly fish “manna” to fall from from the sky.

So it’s obvious that you need to be fishing higher in the water column. The fish will find that happy medium where they are out of danger from being spotted by external predators (pelicans, cormorants, people, etc.) yet where they can continue to do what they need to do to survive. It turns out that “bait and wait” fishing will almost always be more productive in murky water. Thus, the best and most obvious available option is to locate where in the water column the fish are hanging and fish a bait at the appropriate depth by RIGGING IT WITH A BOBBER.

Bobber fishing is something most of us did as kids and is also a tool that most anglers have put away since they caught their last bluegill. While incredibly underutilized, bobber fishing can be one of the most productive and versatile methods of catching fish. Bobber fishing can also be complicated believe it or not and small details can severely strengthen or weaken your odds at getting a hold of that next biggun’. So I’ll do my best to break things down here…

Bobber selection

Bobbers can be placed within two main categories: 1) sliding and 2) conventional, each shown below.

Bobbers can be picked up just about anywhere and typically cost somewhere around a dollar or two each. They can even be made pretty easily if you have the time/desire. Each type of bobber has its advantages and disadvantages as well as an appropriate usage. However, there are a few general guidelines that should be followed regardless of bobber type.

1) Use the right size bobber – Bobbers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You want to use the appropriate size bobber for what you are fishing. Too small a bobber and it will be drug down into the water by the weight of your tackle and bait, defeating the entire purpose of the bobber. Too large a bobber and the fish will sense the resistance when it strikes your bait and drop it. The right size bobber will have the highest degree of sensitivity and least amount of resistance in the water resulting in more observable strikes and more positive hook sets. The right size bobber is the one that stays afloat right at the color line on the bobber, not too high, not too low.
2) The brightest colors are on the top of the bobber – typically bobbers will be painted in at least two colors: white and some other bright color, commonly red, blaze orange, neon yellow, etc. The white underside makes them virtually invisible when looked at in the water from below (ever wonder why a lot of fish have white bellies? There ya go…). The bright tops allow the angler to see the bobber quickly and easily from a distance. It’s also important to have the bobber the right way up as most bobbers are built to work best in their proper orientation.
3) Fish every depth until you find them – A lot of anglers have a tendency to fall into “routines” and use the same set up they used the time before whether or not it is producing. I am not excluded from this generalization! One of the great things about bobbers is that these little tools allow you to put the bait at a very precise depth and keep it there. It is also incredibly easy to change the depth that you are fishing, most commonly without even having to retie your rig. An easy way to measure your leader length and thus your depth is to “know your wingspan”. In other words, know the distance from the fingertips of your right hand to the fingertips of your left hand when your arms are fully outstretched. My “wingspan” is about 5 feet 6 inches and I’m a pretty average sized guy. To fish about 10 feet, that is 2 “wingspans”. So keep changing your depth until you’re getting bit!

So far, so easy, right? Are you ready to go slay ‘em in the muck on the bobber yet? Hold on, we’re getting there!

Conventional bobbers

Conventional bobbers are what everyone is probably most familiar with. The classic half red, half white spheres probably remind you of fishing with your dad or even your own kids for small panfish. However, conventional bobbers have an appropriate time and place that truly can result in big fish!

Conventional bobbers can be divided into three main components as illustrated at the end of this section. A) The float, B) the plunger, and C) the clip.

To put a conventional bobber on your line, simply depress the plunger with your thumb. This will raise the hook on the top of the bobber. Place the bobber onto your line with the appropriate length of leader trailing from it. Now flip the bobber over and cover the hook you just brought your line through with your thumb. Now, depress the plunger by pushing along its rim so that the hook in the center of the plunger is exposed. Place the line under this hook and let the plunger loose. You’re all set. It’s truly that easy.

Below your bobber you may want to run a small bit of weight especially if you are using bait that floats such as dough bait. When I use a conventional bobber setup, I will usually run a 1.5 inch bobber with a small #5, #7, or #9 splitshot at whatever appropriate length below it. The hook you use will depend on whatever bait you are using. I use a size 14-16 treble for dough baits and size 10 single barbed hooks for fishing worms.

The biggest and most obvious advantage to a conventional bobber rig is in its simplicity. It takes 2 seconds to install and modify your fishing depth with these things. They can also be easily casted. We’ll see why this is a distinct advantage in a second when we discuss slip bobbers. Lastly, they are a cheap and readily available alternative in bobber selection. Places that carry even very limited fishing goods will almost always have conventional bobbers in stock.

In my personal opinion, the disadvantages of conventional bobbers FAR outweigh their advantages and I VERY rarely use them. The biggest disadvantage of conventional bobbers is that they are very rough on the line and create a point that is prone to breakage on larger fish. After the endless hours we put in searching for that monster, there is no greater pain than feeling the line give because of a weak spot in the line. Conventional bobbers are also limited in how deep you can fish a bait below them. If the fish are 15 feet down, there is no way you can get to them using a conventional bobber as it would require 15 feet of line whipping through the air during your cast! And then what happens when you catch a fish? If you have a long leader behind your bobber, you will have a difficult time getting that fish to net.

So when is an appropriate time to use a conventional bobber? If the fish are very shallow (<7-10 feet) and/or you need to cast a bit of distance to get to them, a conventional bobber may be the way to go. Also, if you know the fish are up high and a conventional bobber is all you can get to, GO FOR IT! Don’t stick your bait in the mud all day because you were afraid to lose a big fish. You gotta hook the big fish before you can lose it and if you’re fishing in the mud all day, I can nearly guarantee that you’ll be going home with the good ol’ skunk stripe.

Slip bobbers

Slip bobbers are a bit more complicated than conventional bobbers but they are also more versatile. A slip bobber allows your fishing line to pass through it rather than be directly attached to a single point on your line meaning that you can fish virtually any depth with ease! However, to do so requires more components than simply a bobber.

To fish a slip bobber, you will need: A) a bead and a stop knot, B) a slip bobber, C) a bit of weight, and D) your hook/bait. Each of these letters corresponds with the diagram at the end of this section.

Stop knots and beads are both placed above your bobber and designate the depth at which your bait will be fished. If you want to fish 20 feet deep, simply place your line stop 20 feet above the end of your line. Stop knots are commonly included with slip bobbers and are easy to apply. The line stop will be a small nylon line wrapped around a plastic tube. You begin applying your stop knot by first running your fishing line through the plastic tube. You then slide the line stop off of the tube and begin gently tightening it around your line by pulling on the tag ends. Tighten the line stop until it is snug but not too tight. If you do not over tighten the line stop, you will be able to move it up and down your line to adjust your depth. Finish the application by trimming the tag ends and running the bead between the line stop and the slip bobber. You want the size of your bead to be slightly larger than the diameter of your top guide so that it does not end up falling down to your reel while fighting a fish. Line stops are commonly bright colors so that you can recognize when they are in contact with your slip bobber. You can also tell that the line stop has met the slip bobber because your bobber will suddenly stand straight up. If your bobber does not stand straight up either you are bit (which is great!) or you are on the bottom/some obstruction (not so great).

Slip bobbers come in an assortment of shapes, styles and sizes. Again, you want to choose the appropriate size. In addition, you also want to choose something that will glide easily through the water. The most fluid dynamic bobbers will be long and sleek. I typically use a slip bobber that is about 4 inches long and about ¾ of an inch in diameter.

In many cases, you will need to run some weight below your slip bobber to get your bait down. You do NOT have to use weight for baits that sink. Baits such as nightcrawlers that have not been inflated will sink slowly through the water column. Sometimes this is a real benefit. If you find that your ‘crawler is getting hit consistently on the fall, shorten up your leader as the fish are probably a bit higher up in the water column than your line stop is set. If I use a sinker, I will again typically use a #5, #7, or #9 splitshot about 1-2 feet up from my bait. This will not only assist in bringing your bait down but will also keep your bobber from sliding off if you end up breaking your line. Just below my weight I will often tie a small barrel swivel to the end of my line so that if my line does break, I can simply change out a small leader rather than having to re-rig a large portion of my line. Hook and bait selection are the same as listed in the conventional bobber section.

A few things to consider when using a slip bobber…I prefer to use a rod with wire guides. Wire guides will often have a slightly larger diameter than ceramic guides allowing the line stop to pass more freely through them. Also, I will only rarely cast a slip bobber. The addition of the line stop means that your line will almost always get hung up during a cast resulting in the loss of your bait and fouling of your line. The best way to deploy a slip bobber is to let out a rod’s length of line and set the bait and bobber in the water. Feed it line until you have achieved your desired distance away from your boat, float tube, or the shore.

The advantages of using a slip bobber are numerous and I’m sure that I will forget to list a few here. Probably the biggest advantage of using a slip bobber is that they allow you to fish your bait at virtually any depth. The line stop easily winds through your guides and onto the reel meaning that you can fish as deep or as shallow as you desire. Also, slip bobbers can commonly be used as conventional bobbers as well. Best of both worlds! Slip bobbers that can be used in either fashion often will have a spring at their base to keep the bobber on the line. The streamlined shape of slip bobbers allows them to glide through the water more easily than the spherical shape of your average conventional bobber. And lastly, slip bobbers are very easy to see at a distance being that they are usually quite tall.

The biggest disadvantage to a slip bobber rig is in its complexity. Rigging all of the various components for a slip bobber takes a bit of time; however, once it is done correctly, you’re done and you can fish with it all day. You can do the majority of your rigging at home the night before you go fishing if you really want to save time. Every once in a while your slip bobber will need to be changed. The line passing through the slip bobber will eventually groove the plastic of the bobber. If the bobber is grooved, it is no longer any good as the line can no longer pass freely through it. In my opinion, all of these issues are incredibly minor and are easily dealt with. Thus, when the water gets murky, you’ll find me out there running a slip bobber, changing depths and baits until I find ‘em!

Scents are a great tool for use in the murky water. Like many predators, trout rely primarily on their eyes for identifying prey. When you limit their ability to see by mucking up the water, they will turn to other sources of information, one of those being their noses. Trout do not have a very keen sense of smell so utilizing a scent is not going to bring every fish in the lake running to your bait. However, a proper scent will turn a fish that may have not seen the bait in the first place. Scents will also cause a fish to hold on to your bait a bit longer than if no scent had been applied. I personally like the Nitro/Eagle Claw/Crave scents and NO, I am not just saying that because I am in the SARL/Corona Lake forum! I have had a ton of success with these scents. I like that the same scents are available in a variety of formats from oils to greases. Most commonly I will use the Nitro grease in garlic scent on my plastics and for live/dough baits, I use the gravy as a dip. I have used some of the Berkeley products in the past and have had decent success but my biggest fish have come on the Nitro/Crave/Eagle Claw stuff and like all fisherman, I have my superstitions. Just my humble opinion and thus far, my opinion has worked for me!

And on to baits!
“What ya using?” is the most common question I get while I’m out on the water and someone sees me catching fish. After I tell them, the most common response is “What?? How?? That’s the same bait I’m using!” If you’ve gotten to this point, you’ve probably figured out (or maybe you already knew) that everything leading up to your hook is of equal or greater importance than what is actually on your hook! However, baits are definitely important and there surely are some baits that will produce more than others on rainy/murky days.

WORMS! ‘Nuff said. Worms are by far the most productive baits on murky days. The reason for this is obvious. Along with all of that sediment that the rain water brings into the lake come all the critters that lived in that sediment. If you’ve ever been outside during the rain (and I surely hope you have been!) you’ve seen all of the worms come out of the ground. An abundance of worms in the water column is like a buffet for these fish. So include your bait in that buffet! “Match the hatch” so to speak and include your worm in the mix!!

Dough baits will work and one trick to making them work more effectively is to make your bait big. I will nearly double the size of my dough baits during murky days to make them more visible. Adding a plastic worm in a “power mouse” type setup also seems to help a bit. But again, I refer you to the paragraph above. Get yourself some nightcrawlers. Break out the dough baits only when you feel like trying something different.

To sum up…
While the weather we have been having has not been typical, I would venture to say that it is far from being awful! With changes in the status quo come new opportunities. And those opportunities for southern California anglers include overstocked lakes and small crowds to contend with. So break out the bobbers! Fish ‘em up high. Do not sit your bait in the mud all day because I can nearly guarantee that if you do, all you will catch is a nice day of fishing rather than a great day of catching! If you’ve never fished a slip bobber, you should fix that! Lather on a scent and stop by the bait shop to grab a carton of jumbo nightcrawlers. At SARL, you DO NOT WANT TO CAST FAR FROM THE SHORELINE! Within casting distance of the shoreline you can easily go from 0 feet deep to 50 feet deep. No need to fish that deep water. The shoreline dips off quickly and as shore anglers you have the advantage of being able to fish over a broad range of bottom contour. Keep your baits in close as fish will often be cruising in tight to the shoreline. Corona Lake has several inlets strewn around the lake and I’ve found ALL of them to produce fish when the water goes dark. Corona is not nearly as deep as SARL yet the fish will still be holding up high. The water column experiment that began this thread holds true even in shallower lakes and it holds true for Corona.

Utilizing these methods will not mean “wide open” fishing every time you go out. But doing things correctly with the water conditions as they are will greatly increase your odds at scoring! They work for me and they can definitely work for you. The fish are there and are definitely biting. All you have to do is get out there and find what they want! I would kill to be able to get out there tomorrow but it turns out that work requires you to show up in order for them to pay you…go figure!!

Let me know if and when you get out there and slay ‘em. Throw the pics up here so that I can at least feel like I went fishing while I’m stuck at work!! THANKS FOR READING!!!

Last edited on FNN by sapdawg11; Today at 03:32 PM.


Default 1/5/11…Corona Lake…Practice what you preach!!!

Just a quick report and some pics as I am JUST getting home from a work day that started at 5 a.m.. But thinking about the fishing I had Wednesday got me through today and thus, I felt like sharing!

What a lake, what a day, WHAT A LIFE! I put in a loooooooooooong day of work on Tuesday so that I could get out and hit Corona on Wednesday. The long hours were definitely worth it as I was able to catch a BOATLOAD of fish on the tube. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the weather that gorgeous out there. The surface of the lake was like a mirror nearly all day long (just look at the pics!). EVERYTHING I caught from the tube was up top on the SLIP BOBBER and a NIGHTCRAWLER. I did not catch a single fish with a bait below 8 feet deep. Not one. Yup, I do practice and tend to believe what I preach!

Wednesday was such a great day that I put in another loooooong one at work today so that I could get out there and wet a line again tomorrow. If you’re out there, be sure to say hi!!! I may be napping on the tube with this stupid schedule I’ve put myself on so feel free to nudge me if I look passed out…Good grief I LOVE THIS GAME!

A few pics…AND VIDEO COMING SOON…that’s as soon as I’m not fishing that is!

Can you see it???? It’s looking right at you…


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