You want advice about catching trout tomorrow morning?
Cooper A. Gilkes 3rd has a winning starter tip for first-time freshwater anglers: Go early.
Plenty of good fishing techniques will be demonstrated tomorrow morning between anglers, before sunrise at the 37th annual Martha’s Vineyard Rod and Gun Club trout tournament which begins at first light, or about an hour before sunrise. After years of fishing, Mr. Gilkes said he has the technique that works.
Signs to the fishing derby will be posted on Lambert’s Cove Road, directing drivers to Duarte’s Pond in West Tisbury. The pond belongs to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and is a special spot for the Island’s youngest fishermen. Fishing starts at first light and the awards ceremony usually takes place between 9 and 9:30 in the morning. There will be prizes for all of the fishermen, even those who don’t catch fish.
In the past three days, the pond has been stocked with over 600 brown, brook and rainbow trout. Tomorrow morning, they’ll be hungry. Some of the best fishing takes place within minutes of sunrise, Mr. Gilkes said. Mr. Gilkes, 67, has been chairman of the fishing contest almost since it started. He runs a tackle shop in Edgartown. Often youngsters of all ages wander in and out of the store. Like all the Island’s other tackle shops, Mr. Gilkes said he pays attention to what anglers report works.
If you’ll pay a little more attention, Mr. Gilkes has suggestions to getting the little angler a first fish and a memory to treasure.
Catching trout involves preparation before you leave home, he said. Whether it is harvesting your own nightcrawlers (worms), or buying supplies, most of the gear should be ready before you walk out of the house.
Mr. Gilkes recommends the following: Berkley PowerBait nuggets, Coop’s Magic Dust, a package of tiny treble hooks in the #16 or #18 size and tiny egg sinkers that weigh between a quarter and an eighth of an ounce. Add to that a small barrel swivel, rated for 30 pounds. This paragraph is bigger than the fishing gear just mentioned.
Berkley PowerBait nuggets resemble tiny marshmallows. Mr. Gilkes said he takes a small amount of his Coop’s Magic, which is a chartreuse glitter, and sprinkles it in the PowerBait jar. This is the same kind of magic dust that is used by young folks as glitter for the face.
Reclosing the jar, he then shakes it so all the nuggets are covered by the dust. In the light, they’ll sparkle.
A small treble hook tied to a 12-inch to 15-inch leader, called a snell, is sold over the counter and made by Eagle Claw.
The treble hook should be implanted inside the glittering little marshmallow. Hold the hooked line and a nugget with the tips of your fingers, cut halfway through the soft marshmallow with the line. Pull the treble hook along so the hook slips inside the marshmallow.
Pinch the cut you’ve made in the marshmallow so the line and hook don’t sneak out.
At the other end of the 12-inch leader, attach the swivel.
Attach the line from the fishing rod to the other end of the swivel. Attach the small weight near the swivel.
Mr. Gilkes then held up the rig to show the work he had done. “PowerBait wants to float. The weight which lies farther along the line, sits on the bottom, allowing the baited hook to float above.
A fish swimming along the bottom, Mr. Gilkes explained, will see the PowerBait floating in the water column. It is like a floating lollipop.
Be aware that Duarte’s Pond is shallow, so establishing the height of the bait off the bottom is critical. “You don’t want the floating hook too close to the surface,” Mr. Gilkes said.
Add to that a five-foot to five-and-a-half-foot long rod with an ultralight reel. The reel should have eight-pound test line for youngsters younger than six-years-old. Use four-pound test line for older kids. The line is measured in how strong it is. Eight pound test can hold a bigger fish than the lighter-weight line which can easily break. “You use the heavier pound test line for youngsters, because it will better cover any of their mistakes reeling in the fish,” Mr. Gilkes said. A lighter fishing line is more sportsmanlike for older anglers.
Cast the rig out into the pond. The advantage over using this rig, Mr. Gilkes said, is that it is less troublesome than using the more conventional floating bobber and worm. The line is less likely to get tangled to the line of others. Lines will get tangled tomorrow.
Mr. Gilkes offers a stick that will prop the rod up as it sits on the ground. Watch the rod. When the line gets a tug, or gets taut, give the fish time to ingest the meal, then a firm pull on the line. “Give the fish time to eat the bait,” he said. The pulling on the line with a tug, sets the hook. From then on, reel in the fish.
Mr. Gilkes further advises anglers to check the hook and bait at least every 15 minutes, “to make sure that the bait still floats. If it doesn’t float, replace the nugget.”
For those anglers who prefer to fish for trout using the more conventional bobber and worm, Mr. Gilkes said he thinks PowerBait is better.
Gather the worms at night from your favorite spot. A bobber, usually made of red and white plastic, floats on the surface. The hook is weighed down by the worm.
But take notice of one of Mr. Gilkes many stories about fishing with his long-time friend Ralph Case of Edgartown. “I was fishing with Ralphie and he was using the usual nightcrawlers. He said ‘no’ to the idea of trying PowerBait.
“So, I caught my first trout. Then I caught my second. He still hadn’t caught a fish. When I caught my third, he turns to me and says: ‘All right. Let me have a piece of that.’”