Marshmallows and Maggots
Let’s go ahead and get this out there, we’re Texans and we’re proud of it. We think we have the biggest and best of everything. World-class deer? Yep, we’ve got them. Bass big enough to eat your pet Chihuahua? Yep, we’ve got those too. Speckled trout, geese, hogs, chupacabra? Yes, yes, yes, maybe. Snowmelt-fed, world-class, cold water streams flowing through mountains where native trout swim freely? Wait…what?
OK, you caught me. Texas isn’t exactly the “must fish” destination for wild native trout. However, the smart folks at Texas Parks and Wildlife worked around this little issue by stocking certain water bodies with trout during the winter months, giving us an opportunity to catch fish that we normally wouldn’t. Who needs Colorado? We’ve got state parks stocked with trout. No, you’re not going to catch a world record, but if you’re looking for a quick and easy fishing trip with the kids, then chasing stocked trout is right up your alley. Since we don’t get to fish for them often, chances are you don’t know how. Lucky for you, it’s fairly easy.
I’m going to share with you a technique that was shared with me a few years back by a trout guide on the Little Red River in Arkansas (this river has grown brown trout up to 40 pounds). If you’re a purist fly fisherman dedicated only to catching sophisticated trout on dry flies, you might want to skip this article. There is a good chance you’ll be offended at what I’m going to suggest. This is bait dunking at its finest.
We’ll start with the nuts and bolts of the rig itself before getting into the good stuff. First, the best and simplest rig for stocked trout is the split shot rig. If you prefer, you can use a really small Carolina rig, but that’s a little bit of overkill and takes longer to tie on. When fishing for hatchery-raised trout, it’s best to keep it simple.
Start the split shot rig by tying a small bream hook on the end of your line. Small and light are the keys here. Then about a foot above the hook, crimp a split shot onto your fishing line. Again, think small. There’s no need to tie on an ounce of lead to chase a half-pound fish. That’s it. You’re done.
Now, for the baiting part I’ll take you back to a conversation I had with the Arkansas fishing guide while my wife and I were fishing the Little Red River a few years ago.
The fishing guide handed me a small white object, and I just looked at him trying to decide if he was joking or serious. He didn’t appear to be the joking type. It was a marshmallow. It was the small kind that you ̶ I mean your wife ̶ puts in her hot chocolate. I didn’t have any hot chocolate so I didn’t know what to do with it.
“Bite it in half and put half of it on your hook.”
I wondered what to do with the other half but figured it was better not to ask so I swallowed it. The guide handed me another small white object. This time it was a maggot. If he tells me to bite it in half, this fishing trip is over.
“Now put that meal worm on the hook behind the marshmallow.”
“Isn’t a meal worm just a fancy name for a maggot,” I asked before I could stop myself.
“Yes, but I wasn’t going to say that in front of your wife.”
It seems that trout cannot resist a good marshmallow and maggot sandwich since we caught quite a few fish that day. Really the trout just want the maggot, not the marshmallow, but the marshmallow is the key to the whole rig.
The split shot takes the line to the bottom of the river while the marshmallow acts like a small float picking the bait up off the bottom and into the area where the fish are feeding. It’s as simple as that. A hook, a weight, a marshmallow, and a maggot (or prepackaged trout bait or even corn) is all you need to catch a few trout.
Contact Paul Bradshaw at