How to Troll Nightcrawlers to Catch Trout in California Lakes

Nightcrawlers are a universal bait for catching fish. Not to mention, they’re one of the top baits anglers use for pretty much anything that swims. Moreover, you can find them in the garden and best use them for freshwater fishing.

Although finding and using nightcrawlers can get a little messy, trolling for trout using nightcrawlers is effective. Trolling nightcrawlers while trout fishing in California is an effective way to lure trout.  Trout anglers also regard it as one of the deadliest ways to do so. Similarly, it’s a popular way to catch other species of fish, like walleye and bass.

Not to mention, a bucket of nightcrawlers can go a long way. You can chop it up or use a whole one, making it an easy and affordable bait. Typically attached to hooks and fish attractors, the nightcrawlers are your best bet when it comes to trolling for trout. Since California is home to many trout fishing destinations, trout fishing in California is a must-try activity.

Trout Trolling Setup With Nightcrawlers

Fish Hunt Shoot Productions is a Youtube channel dedicated to helping anglers, and fishers get their best catches. In one of their Youtube videos, Fish Hunt Shoot Productions explained how to catch trout using nightcrawlers.

Materials Needed:

How to Set It Up:

  1. Tie a double overhand loop knot at the top end of the fishing leader to rig. To control it, attach it to a trolling swivel or Mack’s Lure Flasher. If you want to go shorter, attach it to a SEP dodger.
  2. Tie the hook using a Palomar knot. If you don’t know how to, this video from Wired2Fish will teach you how.
  3. Using the worm threader, start at the nightcrawler’s tail-end (blunt end of the nightcrawler). Keep in mind that the worm threader should come out to the pointy end.
  4. Come up one inch from the tail. Using the worm threader, insert the worm using the pointy end one inch from the bottom of the crawler’s tail.
  5. Pop through the worm’s skin and work down. However, be careful not to break the worm’s skin further while threading.
  6. Insert the hook in the threader’s hollow end, then pull while putting a little pressure on the leader. Keep in mind that the hook should stay in the threader’s tube. Then, start feeding the worm up and over the hook.
  7. Troll the fishing line at 1 mile per hour to 1 1/2 miles an hour and wait for the trout to nip at your bait.

This trout fishing setup from Cal Kellogg is easy-to-follow and effective in trolling for trout. You can use this trout fishing setup on your next fishing trip for a big catch. If you want an in-depth view of this trout fishing setup, you can watch Fish Hunt Shoot Productions’ video here.

Trout Trolling Setup Tips

Cal Kellogg’s trout trolling setup is an effective way to lure trout and other fish. Virtually, it can help you attract almost anything that can swim. In the video, he also breaks down some tips that will be helpful to use in his trout trolling setup.

1. Using the Right Leader

According to Cal, an 8-pound to 10-pound 100% fluorocarbon leader is virtually invisible. It means that fish don’t see the line underwater. Thus, going lighter will not do any good.

2. What Nightcrawler Size to Use

According to Cal Kellogg of Fish Hunt Shoot Productions, mini crawlers and full-sized nightcrawlers both work. He also mentioned that you could start with a full-sized or nearly full-sized crawler if you want big fish. Then, you can experiment with bait sizes afterward.

Besides, you have to keep in mind that the fish you catch will depend on the bait you use. Cal explained that because he wants to catch big fish, he uses a big bait. You can do the same if you don’t want to experiment yet.

3. Using a Slow Death Hook

Besides explaining what nightcrawler size to use, Cal Kellogg also mentioned why he used a slow death hook for his How To Troll Nightcrawler tutorial. According to him, a slow death hook is useful to use in a trout fishing setup because it pulls many fishing baits, like nightcrawlers and leeches. Using this hook is also critical as it helps the nightcrawler rotate underwater.

Trout Fishing Tips When Using Nightcrawlers

If fishing is one of your well-loved interests, chances are, you’ve used nightcrawlers (aka worms) to catch fish. A good reason for this is, well, worms are an effective way to catch fish, wherever and whenever. 

Although you’ve reached expertise in fishing, nightcrawlers remain an effective way of trolling for trout. Here are some of the easiest and most successful ways to catch fish using nightcrawlers.

1. Using a Bobber

A nightcrawler under a bobber is a classic way to lure trout effectively. And, undeniably, it’s on the list of an angler’s top baits. Not to mention, a nightcrawler under a bobber will help you catch any species of fish, from bass to trout. It can even lure catfish and, well, anything that swims.

One popular bobber available in the market is Trout Magnet’s EZ Trout Float. Hook a worm using a bobber, and you’re in it for the classic angler baiting. 

2. Using a Split Shot Rig

If you fish in deeper water, an effective way to catch fish is using a split shot rig. It’s also useful when you like catching fish at the bottom of the water. Coupled with a nightcrawler, using a split shot rig is a deadly way to catch just about any type of fish.

Tie it on a bait holder hook and thread the nightcrawler, then attach a split shot. Then, throw the line and slowly reel it back to tighten the slack. This rig is effective and is an excellent tool for those who haven’t gone on a fishing trip for some time.

3. Using a Crawler Harness

If you’ve been fishing long enough, then you know that nightcrawlers are one of the best trolling baits you can find. Not only does it catch bass and walleyes, but it’s also useful in trolling for trout.

Crawler harnesses are another tool you can use to catch fish using nightcrawlers effectively. Typically, anglers use weight, like bell sinkers. Then, they use a swivel and the crawler harness. Using these, you can troll harnesses from 5 to 30 feet of water. 

Where to Go Trout Fishing in California

Undeniably, trout fishing in California is a popular activity. Various destinations are available to choose from that can provide excellent spots for trout fishing.

Below are some trout fishing destinations California has to offer.

  • Lake Almanor

Situated near the Feather River and the Lassen Peak, Lake Almanor is one of Northern California’s best trout fishing spots. Its cold and forage-rich waters allow the trout population to grow and spread out. 

Almanor is known for being home to the monster trout. That’s coupled with brown trout that grows up to 9 pounds and rainbow trout that grows up to 6. Almanor is a trout angler’s must-visit destination.

  • New Melones Reservoir

The New Melones Reservoir is located near Angels Camp and is considered a haven for trout anglers. It’s famous for growing rainbow trout that can grow up to 6 pounds. Anglers also go to New Melones to catch brown trout that can weigh up to 10 pounds. Not to mention that New Melones has an over-13-pound brown trout record.

Notably, these reasons make the New Melones Reservoir one of California’s best trout trolling and trout fishing destinations.

  • Los Vaqueros Reservoir

Travel a little west of the New Melones, and you’ll find another haven for trout anglers. The Los Vaqueros Reservoir is another trout trolling spot in California, near the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s a fishing destination that’s been a favorite since September 2011. Eventually, it has been known as one of the Bay Area’s best trout fisheries.

Although the lake’s trout population fluctuates year to year, its cold waters provide the trout with high chances of surviving. The lake is also known for its impressive rainbow trout. On average, the Los Vaqueros provides up to 24,000 planter rainbows. 

  • Crowley Lake

Trout fishing in Southern California is possible, and that’s all thanks to Eastern Sierra’s Crowley Lake. It’s a well-known fishery in the area because of its rainbow and brown trout. Coupled with trout factories and major trout fishing trophies, Crowley Lake is SoCal’s best trout fishing destination.

Final Words

As mentioned, nightcrawlers are easy and effective when it comes to trolling for trout. Additionally, it is affordable and can be found in your garden. Because of these, nightcrawlers are the best option if you’re looking for practical bait. It’s also your best bet if you’re going to go trout fishing in California. Make sure to bring a bucket or two on your next fishing trip!