How To Catch Trout Successfully? 6 Fishing Techniques

How to catch trout, Trout fishing for lake and rivers

Trout is one of the most sought-after fish for anglers from all skill levels. They can put up an intense fight, sometimes challenging to catch.  

You must be excited about your trout fishing trip. But don’t head to the water without knowing how to catch trout successfully. 

Today, we will share all the powerful tips for fighting these species. Let’s join us, and you will be ready for the adventure!

License Requirements

In most states, you need a fishing license to fish on public lands or from private property in public waters.

Depending on the state’s rules, you may receive a fine of anywhere from $15 to $12,000 if you fish without a license. They may fine you for each fish you catch. 

For instance, in California, a penalty for trout fishing without a license carries a $485 fine plus $1,000 for each fish you catch. 

On the other hand, Pennsylvania simply imposes a fixed fee of $75 regardless of how many fish you have. In some places, fishing without a license might even result in jail time.

Each state has different rules for getting a fishing license and a trout permit. In general, allow tackle and bait stores to offer both trout permits and fishing licenses.

Hiking, camping, and other outdoor-related businesses and department and hardware stores may also provide the same service.

The procedure employed by each state to issue fishing permits differs. While some states permit trout fishing with a standard fishing license, others demand that residents and non-residents get a special license, especially for trout. 

Always contact your state’s Department of Natural Resources for further information because the regulations vary from state to state. 

Where And When To Fish?

You can find trout in both still waters (like ponds and lakes) and moving waters (such as streams and rivers). Depending on the location, the trout may have different behaviors. Hence, you need specific tactics for each case. 

In lakes and ponds

Trout are active in still waters, cruising the water in search of food. They tend to stay close to the cover that provides safety from predators.

If you fish in lakes and ponds, you will most likely find them in these places. 

  • Submerged and floating vegetation

Fish the edges of the weed bed, where trout like to cruise looking for food.
Fish the edges of the weed bed, where trout like to cruise looking for food.

Search for submerged weed beds in broad, deep water or find weed beds that flow to deeper water. Your targets are swimming around them to find their food.

When working in these areas, avoid your gear getting tangled. It would be best to cast into openings and edges. 

  • Downed trees or other submerged objects

When experienced anglers see a sunken tree, they head straight for it because it provides structure that attracts trout
When experienced anglers see a sunken tree, they head straight for it because it provides a structure that attracts trout

A seasoned angler will immediately go toward a submerged tree because it has a structure that fish find attractive. You can aim for stumps, branches, and rocks. 

Be careful not to snag your fishing equipment when you are approaching submerged objects. 

  • Docks

Trout hide under docks to take shelter from the sun, so they are good to fish near any time of the day
Trout hide under docks to take shelter from the sun, so they are good to fish near any time of the day

Trout stay under the docks to hide from the sun, so you can locate them there. These fish are ideal for fishing nearly all day. 

The largest fish may stay underneath. Hence, do not just target the edges if you can’t cast beneath the dock. 

  • Points

The sloping-out formation creates a natural “highway” for trout to move from deep to shallow water in search of food.
The sloping-out formation creates a natural “highway” for trout to move from deep to shallow water in search of food.

Land masses known as points are those that rise from the shore and slope downward into the deeper ocean. Sloping points like those are perfect for trout fishing. 

Fish may naturally swim over this way from deeper water to more shallow areas to search for food. You will have a pleasant experience when waiting at the corners or tip of that point for trout to pass by. 

  • Inlets 

Wherever there is food, there are fish! Spawning fish often gather near inlets before moving upstream to spawn
Wherever there is food, there are fish! Spawning trout often gather near inlets before moving upstream to spawn

Inlets are the places where streams and rivers join a pond or lake. Because they send food into the lake, they make fantastic fishing spots.

Before swimming upstream to breed, spawning fish often assemble near inlets. Seasonal fishing is possible there, generally in the spring and autumn.

  • Overhanging trees and bushes 

Huge trout can live under overhangs just feet from shore
Huge trout can live under overhangs just feet from shore

Trout love brushy shorelines because they provide ideal shelter for fish-eating animals, especially birds. The bushes also provide them with food when insects drop into the lake. 

So, please remember that huge trout like to stay under overhanging trees. Now you just need to find the deepest water in that area and cast your line.  

In rivers and streams 

The significant advantage of moving waters to trout is that food (often aquatic insects) will flow to their place easily. Hence, they don’t have to move a lot. 

Besides, trout need shelter. So when fishing in streams and rivers, you should find a spot where trout can get their food and stay safe. Here are your options: 

  • Outside bends

 Sometimes the outside of the bend also contains a rock or fallen tree. This slows down the food-carrying current and provides shelter, making it an even better place to catch trout.
Sometimes the outside of the bend also contains a rock or fallen tree. This slows down the food-carrying current and provides shelter, making it an even better place to catch trout.

Foods gather in the stream and river curves because the currents there are strong. Moreover, you can see fallen trees and rocks outside the bends, which slow down the current and give the trout shelter. 

  • Rocks

When flowing water hits a rock, the current splits around the rock. This creates a quiet pocket of water for trout to rest in
When flowing water hits a rock, the current splits around the rock. This creates a quiet pocket of water for trout to rest in

Rocks are pockets of water because currents will split when they hit them. When the currents are near the pockets, trout can grab food easily once they drift by. 

Those pockets are small. However, placing your cast properly will land in a nice place where trout are eager to bite their food.

  • Eddies

 As the water slows down, it creates a mini-whirlpool, which collects a lot of food.
As the water slows down, it creates a mini-whirlpool, which collects a lot of food.

Water in streams and rivers has a lot of obstructions, such as logs or rocks. 

When the currents hit them and slow down, they will form eddies. This movement creates some mini whirlpools that collect food. 

You can cast along the edge, where fast currents meet the eddies, to catch trout. Where there is food, there will be fish. 

  • Merging currents

Merging currents refer to two currents contacting, carrying their own food. It means that you can get twice the food supply at these points. 

The water currents there are slow. Trout love it as they have a nice place to rest and hide. 

  • Drop-offs

When water flows over a drop-off, it slows down and sinks, taking the food it carries with it.
When water flows over a drop-off, it slows down and sinks, taking the food it carries with it.

The drop-off is where water currents slow down and then sink. Once they drop, they carry the food down the deep water. 

  • Dams and waterfalls

When water drops off a dam or falls, it digs out a big hole in the stream bottom. Trout will sit in this hole to feed on the food coming over the dam or falls
When water drops off a dam or falls, it digs out a big hole in the stream bottom. Trout will sit in this hole to feed on the food coming over the dam or falls

Water will form a hole when it falls, which you can find in dams and waterfalls. This hole collects food from the falls, attracting fish to come and feed. 

Another benefit of the falls is that they prevent trout from swimming upstream. The fish can only gather around the hole, giving you many opportunities to catch them. 

  • Undercut banks

Undercut banks, formed when the current cuts out a cave-like hole in the bank, are perfect hiding spots
Undercut banks, formed when the current cuts out a cave-like hole in the bank, are perfect hiding spots

Have you seen cave-like holes in the bank? They have undercut banks, where you can catch the biggest trout. 

Trout love the banks because they have an overhead cover. Moreover, this structure is ideal for access to deep water for escape and feed. 

Tackle For Trout Fishing 

Your fishing trip will only be successful if you bring the right gear. Your list should include the following:

GearRecommendation
RodRod
A 6-foot spinning rod and a matching reel
LineA 4- to 6-pound monofilament line
HookSize 8
BaitsPowerEggs, PowerBat, and worms
RigsBobber, bottom, and float

Some people prefer fly fishing. If you are among them, your checklist will be:

GearRecommendation
Rod9-foot and 5-weight rod with its matching reel
Line5-weight and 4x7.5-foot long line
LeaderTapered mono
LureSpinner and spools (4X or 5X tippet)

Even though lures and fly lines make wonderful bait, live natural bait is still better for trout. The best choices are worms and minnows. 

Nature (Live) Bait  

The ideal trout bait will be anything that resembles their natural food. Since trout like to eat insects, you can use them as your live bait. And trout won’t want to miss them on their food hunt.

Worms

The worm is the traditional fishing bait that everyone uses. You can get nightcrawlers or redworms at a very low cost. These cheap baits are fantastic for fishing trout, panfish, bullheads, and catfish. 

If you want to catch big trout, we recommend attaching half a nightcrawler and a redworm to your size 2 hook. 

San Juan worm flies will be a nice alternative if you can’t find worms. These red baits are popular among serious fly anglers as trout find them appealing. 

Minnows 

Not many anglers choose minnows as their bait. But when it comes to trout fishing, they remain the top choice. 

Minnows are hard. Therefore, they can withstand multiple casts before slowing down. Trout in streams, rivers, and lakes will take them.  

Minnows are best for bobbers
Minnows are best for bobbers

Fishing Techniques For Lakes And Ponds 

There are multiple ways to fish in still waters, but bobber rigs and bottom rigs may be the best techniques. 

Bobber Rigs

This method is terrific if the trout cruise near the surface or you want to keep your hook and bait floating over a weed bed. Here is how to do it: 

  • Attach a worm or PowerBait to your hook. 
  • Tie a lead weight above the book so your bait can sink. 
  • Tie a bobber about 1 to 3 feet above your hook. 
  • Cast your line and wait for your bobber to dive and shake. 

There are two types of bobber rigs: fixed and slip bobbers. The fixed bobber rig is more suitable for shallow ponds. 

Once the fish bites your bait, it means that it is pulling the bobber down underwater. In this case, set your hook immediately so the fish can’t spit it out. 

The second choice is slip bobber, which helps you catch trout in midwater. Using this method, you need to estimate the water depth where you fish and sink your bobber to that depth. 

Next, bait the hook and cast out to the targeted spot, and wait for a trout to bite. 

round fixed bobber

Bottom Rigs 

If the trout gather in deeper water, you should use bottom fishing rigs instead. You don’t use a bobber to sink your bait, as a lead weight will be in charge. 

The lead weight should be around 1 1/2 feet above the book. Once you cast out, the weight will sink while the bait floats above the bottom of the pond. 

Your options in this category are numerous, but the slip sinker rig appears to be the easiest. To use the sinker, you will attach it to the main line, tie it to a swivel, and attach the leader then. Now cast it out and wait for the trout to bite. 

You can also try the Carolina rig. It will help you fish actively using artificial lures rather than fishing passively with bait. 

The slip sinker rig is the best technique for bottom fishing

Read more: 14 trout fishing rig setup for Lake and Streams

Fishing Techniques For Rivers And Streams

The flow of moving water will determine how your bait travels in the water. Some effective trout fishing methods used in rivers and streams are as follows: 

Spinner Rigs

Spinner rig

The spinner is among the more flexible trout rigs, and you can use it in many settings, including rivers and streams. 

Try to cast your rod in the center of the water column. However, the spinner should go deeper if the trout stays close to the bottom. 

Just release the rig and retrieve it slowly. You may modify your retrieve speed and let it descend to the bottom before reeling it. 

Worm Rigs 

Worm rig with sinker

Worm rigs work best with a slip bobber or slip sinker. While the bobber is more suitable for trout that feed near the surface, the sinker performs better when fishing trout that stay close to the bottom.  

Ensure your hook can float in the water when employing a slip sinker and worm as bait since trout won’t bite it if it rests on the bottom.

Anglers use floating jig heads with worms to improve their bait presentation. Another tip is to tie a marshmallow to the hook so it will be buoyant.

Fly Trout With Spoon 

Spoons are highly effective when fish are on their feed. When your line reaches the water, ensure it’s still straight with no slack. 

Fish often bite a spoon before you can get it back. So allow your spoon to descend almost to the bottom when fishing deeper before starting your retrieve.

Make sure to note how quickly the retrieval happens. Change your speed to see what the trout want if you do not have any bites.

Read more: Top 7 Spinner Lure For Trout and How to use them

Salmon Egg Rigs

Salmon eggs can be attractive bait
Salmon eggs can be attractive bait

Using a bobber rig, you may let the salmon eggs drift with the current while you’re angling in a river or stream.

Otherwise, you can float the salmon eggs straight over the stream’s bottom using a split shot rig. Although it’s more challenging to see bites with this method, placing it exactly in front of the fish is better.

You should choose a hook that ranges from size 8 and size 14. If you use a bigger one, thread numerous salmon eggs onto it.

Trolling For Trout   

The reason trolling lures are effective is that it helps you cover a lot of water and fish trout at different depths until you spot the fish.

Spoons, spinners, and other trolling-specific lures used in this method are often lightweight. As you will push them through the water, they provide appealing motion, and some anglers may improve the presentation by attaching some bait on their hook.

Many anglers drop their lures to where deeper fish hide by using weights and downriggers. Besides, some use bright flashers and gang trolls just above the leader to draw trout toward the lure.

The most popular lures you can use to troll trout are Dick Nite spoons, Wedding Ring spinners, and small hoochies. They don’t take much weight and work nicely for casting. 

If the trout feed shallow, avoid extra weight on the lures. Some fish may jump or dimple the surface. 

Rooster Tail spinners are also a good idea for casting lures. Adjust your speed so you can feel the blade once it turns. 

Dodger rig 
Dodger rig

Handling Trout

Handling trout might seem like a simple procedure. But since they are delicate creatures, you must handle them with care. Here are some tips to bear in mind.

  • Never touch a trout’s gills unless you intend to kill and eat it in an ethical way.
  • Wet your hands before handling trout. This species has a slime layer to protect them, and dry hands will remove that layer. 
  • Use barbless hooks to catch fish since they demand less effort to unhook and pose less harm to the fish physically.
  • Act quick. The quicker you release your trout, the faster and better it can recover. 
  • Keep your trout wet. While removing the fish from the water will suffocate it, keeping it wet will help their grills breathe.
  • Use rubberized nets to maintain the slimy coating of the fish. Nets made from other materials may harm the trout. 
  • If you can, grab the fish with an open hand. This tip prevents the fish from getting hurt and squeezed.
  • Do not play the trout for too long. Fish fights might be entertaining to you, but they put a lot of pressure on the fish.

FAQs

1. What is the best time to fish trout?

The ideal time of year to catch trout is in the spring. The fish are more active after spending the winter asleep and barely eating.

Their metabolism starts to increase, causing them to get hungry easily. They are on the hunt for something tasty that comes their way. And your bait shows up as a rescue. 

Besides, trout tend to lower their guard as the winter brings fewer anglers. They become much less cautious by the time spring arrives.

Wild temperature fluctuations in the spring can also significantly impact trout behaviors. When the temperature rises, trout fishing is at its peak. They will be more active and hungry as a result of the heat. 

2. How to tie knots for trout fishing? 

Three knots you should know for trout fishing are:  

Clinch knot: You use this knot to attach the hook to your line.

Clinch knot

Here is how to tie it: 

  • Thread the fishing line via the hook’s eye. 
  • Create five to seven loops around the line, leaving the end loose. 
  • Thread that end via the loop that is closest to the hook’s eye, then put it back around the loose section of the fishing line. 
  • Tighten both ends. 
  • Cut the loose end of your line if needed. 

Surgeon’s knot: This knot helps hold terminal tackles, such as lures, hooks, and swivels.

Surgeon's knot:
Surgeon’s knot:

The instructions are as follows: 

  • Double the line to create a loop. 
  • Push the loop via the hook’s eye. 
  • Create a loose knot.
  • Wrap the loop all around the hook’s tip.
  • Tighten this line.
  • Cut the loose end of your line if needed. 

Palomar knot: You use this knot to join two lines together.

Palomar knot:

Please take these steps to tie your knot: 

  • Fold the end and type a single knot by creating a double line.
  • Thread loop via the gap created by the overhand knot.
  • Tighten your knot after moistening.

3. Do trout prefer natural bait or lure?

Lures are more attractive to trout’s ears and eyes. Yet, when it comes to smell, natural baits will be your best choice as it’s the powerful sense of the trout. 

Although you can use sprays for the lure, bait often smells like food in a sense that a lure can’t. You don’t have the same control over how the bait looks and sounds, but you can do a lot to stimulate the curiosity of the other two senses.

Yet, the most effective method for your case depends on the weather. If it’s a bright day, lures with attractive appearance will be more appealing to the trout. 

But the fish won’t see well if the weather is dark and cloudy. It’s when the natural baits come into play. 

4. What color do trout see best?

Trout eyes are sensitive to the red spectrum, and it’s the color that trout see best. On the other hand, it has the least ability to identify green.  

5. How to check the water temperature?

Although trout constantly feed in water between the temperatures of 39 to 65°F, the ideal temperature for trout is between 40 and 49°F.

Trout are cold blooded, so the speed of their metabolism is dependent on the temperature of the water they live in.
Trout are cold blooded, so the speed of their metabolism is dependent on the temperature of the water they live in.

You can use a stream thermometer to check the water temperature. It helps you locate the best feeding areas and predict different hatches.

Final Thoughts

Fishing trout is a challenging yet amazing experience. Once you prepare the right tools and determine the best technique for your situation, you will have a successful trip. 

Now you know how to catch trout effectively. If you know any tips, don’t hesitate to share them with us. That’s how we grow up as professional anglers. 

Hopefully, you will find this guide helpful. Thank you for reading! 

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