Southeast Trout Hammering FireBait

We’ve been so busy at the plant for the past two years that I haven’t been able to break away and trout fish at all. Meanwhile, when I was offered the opportunity to fly from the Pacific Northwest to Virginia to film a few trout fishing videos and I jumped at the chance. While I grew up trout fishing in Washington, I didn’t even know they stocked as many trout in Virginia as they do, and I wanted to sample the fisheries to see how they compared to ours out West.

After flying into DC we spent five days traversing the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and many of The Commonwealth’s most well known trout fishing spots. Meanwhile, my most memorable experience was trout fishing with FireBait at Cedar Springs Trout Farm on Cripple Creek near Rural Retreat in Southwest Virginia. While they aren’t easy to catch Jim Hilton and the boys raise some awesome trout here. This is a fabled trout stream that people from all over the Southeast drive countless miles to fish.


Like most streams where bait can be used in the state this is a put and take fishery and one of the most popular trophy trout streams in the east. We arrived and saw nearly a dozen anglers within eyesight struggling to catch trout with dough baits, corn and lures. You could see massive rainbows in many of the holes, but they weren’t interested in feeding. Fortunately, I thought this would be a good barometer to see how well our FireBait worked out east.


In a heavily stocked stream like this, these trout see just about everything. And, with as much pressure as this system gets they are often spooked. Keep in mind, while the system is stocked daily, these fish aren’t easy to catch. It can be frustrating to see an 8-pound rainbow in the hole and have him ignore everything you throw at him.


Fortunately, these pigs liked FireBait and within the first 15-minutes we’d caught five trout greater than three pounds, including two brook trout that would be considered trophies anywhere in The States. We spent the morning proving that FireBait works even on heavily pressured fish in tough conditions. Keep in mind, Southwest Virginia was hammered by severe storms this week. Several inches of rain had fallen and streams were pushing their banks. Had we not flown 2,300 miles and drove five hours we would have cancelled the trip.


The water was murky, which called for FireBait to show its merit, drawing in trout to grab its’ vibrant colors and strong scent properties. We brought out the cameras to document our efforts and filmed an episode of Pautzke Outdoors on the scene. FireBait outperformed everyone’s expectations (except ours). We caught nearly a dozen rainbows up to eight pounds (we didn’t catch the 14-pound fish that was stocked earlier that day) and had other anglers grabbing our opened FireBait containers when we left.


I was surprised at what colors preformed the best. Before making my first cast I expected your typical rainbows and bright colors to do best, as it does out West. Meanwhile, it was the subtle natural colors that stood tall. We got the most bites on Feed Pellet Brown, Natural, Peach Garlic and Garlic Salmon Egg. Don’t get me wrong we caught fish on all the colors, but these served us best. And, for those of you who’ve grown up catching trout on our Balls O Fire salmon eggs I invite you to do what we did and try FireBait.


Editor’s Note: Casey Kelley is the fourth generation owner of Pautzke Bait, a company that remains a true American family business. For more information on trout fishing at Cedar Springs Trout Farm please call 276-686-4505 or visit