Catching stocked trout isn’t the most difficult task on the planet. In some cases it can seem to easy. There are times when even stocked trout can get tight lipped however. One of the most effective baits for trout is Berkley Powerbait.
Berkley produces a whole line of Powerbait products that includes everything from nuggets for crappie to soft plastics for bass. For the intents of this post I use the term “Powerbait” to describe the famous Berkley Powerbait trout paste that is a household name for people who fish for stocked trout.
Purists may snub their nose at Powerbait but the plain fact is that it catches stocked trout as well as anything else on the market. It is easy to find and easy to fish with. It doesn’t cost the world either. Every day anglers buy the stuff and put it to use for good reason.
Using Powerbait to catch trout is fairly straight forward and easy, though some people seem to use methods and tackle that is unnecessary or even counter productive. There’s no need to over think it. It is very possible to slop a glob of Powerbait on a hook and chuck it out in the water and still catch some fish, but there are also more precise ways to go about it.
In most situations Powerbait is best fished on a sliding sinker rig. Since Powerbait floats this is a good setup. The sinker holds the line down in one place while the Powerbait floats up into the water column and stays there until a fish comes by and eats it.
Fishing Powerbait on a slip sinker rig is simple. You put a sliding sinker on your line then you tie the end of your line to a small swivel. On the other end of the swivel you tie another length of string for your leader. At the end of the leader you attach a small hook. Then you cover the hook with just enough paste to hide the metal. After that you cast out and wait for a bite. In places where multiple poles are allowed you can fish a variety of colors and different areas at the same time until you find out what works best. Some days one color or location will work a lot better than others.
A more simplistic sliding sinker rig can also be tied up. For that you slide your sinker on the line then tie a small hook at the end. Then you just go a few feet up the line from your hook and pinch on a split shot. This allows the line to pull through the sinker one way but not the other, so your bait is guaranteed to float up into the water column. The downside of this more simplistic rigging style is that the split shot can pinch your line and weaken it, but it is usually okay.
The main mistakes people make with Powerbait for trout involve going too big or heavy on their rigging. For most stocked trout, a 4 pound test monofilament like Trilene XL is more than sufficient. Single hooks should be used in size 12 or even 14. Only enough paste to cover the hook is required. Huge globs of Powerbait aren’t nearly as effective. Sinkers should be of proper size to keep the bait down but not so big that they impede the fishing. A good worm sinker assortment is nice to have for handling various conditions.
In small streams a basic drift rig can work better than a sliding sinker setup. Fishing Powerbait on a drift rig is as simple as it gets. You tie a size 12 hook to the end of your line and cover it with just enough paste to cover the hook in its entirety. Then you affix some split shot on the line a few feet up from the hook. That’s it. Fishing involves nothing more than casting your rig upstream and following it back downstream as it bounces along the bottom. If you want to be less involved you can even use heavier sinkers to pin the bait down the bottom in a likely spot. Stocked trout often smell the Powerbait and move in to bite.
In places with a lot of snags you can use a downsized slinky rig to drift Powerbait. You tie your main line to a leader with a blood knot. Instead of trimming down both tag ends you leave one. At the end of that tag you tie a small overhand knot. Then you put your split shot on the tag end. If the split shot get stuck on the bottom you can pull the rig free without losing your hook. Only a few split shot will be missing.
I should mention that Powerbait works a lot better on stocked fish than wild trout. On top of that, it is a lot more effective on rainbow trout than most other trout species. Although they will hit Powerbait, brown and brook trout seem to prefer more natural baits.
Today Powerbait paste comes in a wide variety of colors and scents. The classic stuff still works very well, but the glitter varieties are also effective. When it comes to the natural scents, corn and cheese seem to work well while mayfly and salmon egg are not so hot at all. In the end you have to try different things to see what works. Some old standby colors like Yellow, Rainbow and Chartreuse seem to catch fish more often than not.