One of the most useful trout fishing tips is what bait to use. I love small stream trout fishing. Every year in late April I go to the Kelletville area of Pennsylvania to fish the small mountain streams for brook trout. I have been fairly successful in my quest to catch trout every season I have gone. One thing I am always asked while carrying a stringer full of trout back to camp is, "what bait are you using?" My reply is almost always "maggots."
What brings me to spear these repulsive little creatures with my fish hook use them almost exclusively as bait? There are several reasons which I will inform you about but the number one reason is that they work the most consistently out of all the baits I have tried. Here are the top 3 reasons that they work well for stream trout fishing.
1. Maggots are light colored and look natural.
The white color of maggots is easy to see in the water. Trout locate their bait through both smell and sight. Bait that is easy for them to see makes it more likely that they will bite. This is especially helpful when the water is cloudy or murky (as it frequently is in the spring). Trout are easily spooked, and things that look unnatural might keep them from hitting your bait. A bundle of squirming maggots floating by a trout's face will not raise the alarm like a too large and bright trout fishing lure might. Multiple maggots can easily be put on a hook to completely cover it and hide the presence of the hook altogether.
2. Maggots smell nice.
Not to us they don't, but to a hungry trout they smell pretty good. This is another advantage that all live or real bait will have over artificial bait. Again, this is important in murky water where smell might take the lead in a trout's search for food.
3. Maggots are tough!
This is one of my favorite things about maggots. They are tough little buggers that will stay on the hook long after your power bait or salted minnow has fallen off. They are resistant to snags (the small stream fisherman's nightmare) and will even stay on the hook after a trout bites and gets away. Even when they do start to fall off, you can add one or two fresh ones to keep your hook full. The more time you spend changing bait that fell off the less time your bait spends in the water tempting the trout.
This is what I have found in my experience over the last 15 years. Maggots are the most reliable form of trout fishing bait. Of course I would also recommend carrying a variety of bait with you. Sometimes trout will ignore one type of bait after seeing it too much or they bite and get off. But they can sometimes be tempted again with another type of bait. There are days and places where other baits will work well too. Be prepared and experiment with many different baits, but always keep a container of trusty maggots with you.