In the middle part of November, the Texas Parks and Wildlife will post their list of rainbow trout stocking locations and dates. Dates are approximate, and call before heading out to see a stocking, but that is a sight to see. I've seen it several times, always so early in the morning that steam is coming off the surface of the lake or river on a cold day. I was just lucky to have some cold days when I caught the stockings.
I've found that the trout are far friskier and far more interested in artificials, particularly nymphs streamers and wet flies, when it's cold, and if possible, a little bit of sprinkling rain always just seem to make some dry fly fishing possibly.
It hasn't been cold for a really long spell here in a really long time. Time was, every winter you could count on it almost always being cold, and by cold being a native Texan I mean in the 30's or maybe even 20's. Not cold like real hardcore "live in the cold for months at a time" people know about, but cold for here in Texas.
But recent times it's been more t-shirt weather than anything during the winter and fall for the most part. And that's not conducive to frisky rainbow trout fishing in their stocked venue.
Sometimes, as Billy Ray and El Fisho Jr. and I have done, it's possible to leave from our t-shirt and shorts weather at home and drive a fair distance across the state to a place where it's cold and you can do some good trout fishing.
This almost always means West Texas, and the stocking locales are not near as nice looking as those in Central Texas or the Hill Country or even East Texas. But they have fish that can be caught and that are frisky enough to be caught on the fly.
You can catch these trout when it is warmer, but they're hanging deep in the water and moving slow for the most part. At those times, of course baits like corn kernals and bacon and salmon eggs (from a jar) or some of the Berkley Gulp trout bait and the similar products out there, those baits have good success. And sometimes, that's the kind of fishing I want to do. With a bobber in the water.
Generally though, I like artificials. But I'm not as big on fishing the fly deep for sluggish trout. Instead, I use an ultralight spinning rig or a medium spincasting rig to throw Mepps and various other types of smallish spinners and always have good results with those lures.
For instance, a spinner with a tiny green body with gold blade is one of the best that I've used, and it's in a very small size perfect for these stocked trout. Sorry but I have no idea who made it but I have several of them I bought in a package decades ago. Knock on wood, I haven't lost a one of them.
I sometimes use a salmon egg or some of the Gulp imitations to top off the hook of an artificial. It seems to help, particularly the Gulp.
During hot or warm weather, don't let it ruin your camping and/or fishing trip when heading for State Parks that have stocked rainbows in their lakes. Come prepared with a canoe or kayak or some kind of jonboat type affair with paddles or electric motors (I think electrics are allowed most places). If you don't have a boat, and some of the parks do rent canoes as I recall, here's my suggestion: take a rig or two that will cast a country mile, like a saltwater surfcasting rig.
Why a big surf rig? With it, as a bank fisherman, you can hit those deep spots in the middle that are often accessible only to the boaters. In hot or warm weather, the rainbows are deeper where the water is coldest. That's where you need to be fishing, and that's how and where I catch fish.
I usually use some thin double drop crappie rig leaders on the end, unless there is a rocky bottom and then I use a heavier saltwater mono or coated wire type leader. The weight size varies with current and depth and wind and such, but I like enough weight to cast and enough to keep the bait stationary as possible.
If you don't have such a rig, you can easily find one at many fishing stores, and not for a whole lot of money. A short Texas surf/pier/jetty rig sells for around $40 bucks or so, and usually is a spinning rod and reel combo. A good 8 to 10 foot rod will get your bait WAY out there.
I started using the Zebco 808/Saltwater reels a long time ago for ease of fishing and durability. I've used them for big catfishing all over the state, including down on the Rio Grande some years ago. I've fished them up and down the Texas coast on beaches, jettys, piers and in canals with various sized saltwater rods.
I ended up with a big collection of 808's for free back in the early 90's. A friend's brother, like me, used them for saltwater fishing. And he fished nearly every weekend down at Galveston. After about six months, without him cleaning them, they'd start gumming up and getting slow and not casting well. And he'd throw them in a box and buy another one for $20.
One day he appeared with the box and knowing I was a fisherman of many types, asked me if I wanted them for parts before he threw them out. I put them in the trunk and when I got them home, found them not rusted but just gummed from the salt mixing with the lube and oil in the reel. A good bathing and scrubbing in water and cleaning with some solvents and proper lubrication and some new line and the reels were good as new. I think I still have about five or so now, after I've given some to friends, and as far as I know they're all going strong.
In freshwater, they last forever with minimal cleaning, particularly the saltwater models which I think have mostly or all metal parts. I often buy the saltwater or more heavy duty model of a reel destined for lighter use, simply because I think they'll last longer. Like a Curado, for example.
My favorite trout fishing place close to 200 miles from here, but it's a very nice fishing hole and there's a nice area around it. I've already got a trip planned for there in a December time frame, and we're just waiting on the release dates before we head on up there.
Mrs. El Fisho can relax herself in a one of several real nice motels and hotels in the area, as we fish as the conditions indicate. I'll post an update when the locations and dates of stocking are announced.