Trout fishing is a popular sport among anglers as it does not require many skills and the tools needed are fairly simple. However, this does not mean that you can catch trout with no experience.
Learning how to fish trout in lakes calls for practice, which will be explained in detail below.
If you are interested in being a trout fisherman, keep reading to find out more!
Tip: If you haven’t found a suitable trout spot yet, check out our recommendation on this map to find one near your place.
How To Find Trout In Open Water?
Locating trout in open water is the first step if you want to come home with a full bucket. Thus, it is important that you learn about their characteristics to determine places where trout is most likely to be found.
First off, trout tend not to stay in one place. Rather, they swim around constantly and are always on the move. Secondly, trout do not travel in schools. Rather, they come to each other when the conditions are ideal and best for feeding, which includes oxygenated and low-temperature water.
Given their habits, you can easily find trout along the ledges and transitions of lakes during spring and autumn. They are abundant in cold and fresh water, which trout happily cruise.
But if you are fishing in the hot summer months, make sure to cast a little deeper. Water at surface level is usually too hot for trout to roam comfortably, which means the downward layers are more favorable.
In case you are fishing somewhere large, look for places where warm and cold water meets each other. Not only does this provide lots of nutrients, but it is also full of oxygens.
You can reach this area by casting more than halfway through the water column.
Let’s say, if the lake is 50 feet deep, you are most likely to encounter trout at a depth of 33 feet.
Nevertheless, things are a bit different if you are fishing in a limited water body, such as a pond. Ponds do not have much difference in temperatures regarding different parts of the body, as well as inflows or structures.
Therefore, the best way to reach for trout is to cast where the bottom is the deepest. In this basin, the water stands the highest chance of being both cold and oxygenated, making it an ideal location for trout all year round.
Shoreline Bait Rigs For Trout
Some people prefer to fish trout standing from the shoreline, which limits the casting depth. But rest assured that bait rigs for trout will resolve the problem. If you are fishing when the temperature is low, confine your bait rigs to the one-third area of the water column for the best results.
The recommended rigs here are slipper bobber rigs, as it can float and sink within the top half of the water body.
On the other hand, should you want to fish when the weather is scorching hot, you will need a bottom rig supported by an egg sinker. This is because trout tend to swim further from the shoreline and dive deeper in an attempt to reach colder water.
Thus, only a bottom rig is capable of reaching such depths, offering you a higher chance of catching these trout.
A bottom rig includes a tie connected to the swivel, a red bead, and finally, an egg sinker all threaded together. You will need a leader line made from fluorocarbon or mono to hold on to the rig.
How long it should depend on how deep you want to fish. Once the setup is completed, tie the rig to your hook and let it float. Historically speaking, using a bottom rig has been proven to be the most effective when fishing trout in lakes and other open water bodies.
That being said, pairing bottom rigs with live bait is not gonna work in most cases. Not only does it limit your casting to the bottom water, but it also signals the unsuitable conditions for trout fishing.
Slip bobber rig
A slip bobber rig consists of a slip tube, a bead, and a slip bobber. After threading it and removing the tube, you will need to tie the rig to your hook.
Make sure your rig remains at the desirable depth after casting it into the open water. It should be at least 2 to 5 feet deep so as not to alert the trout. Feel free to use leeches, minnows, or worms to bait your hook and lure in trout.
Now, some people may wonder why you have to use live bait while the slip bobber rig alone will suffice. It is because live bait helps you get closer to where trout primarily feed.
As they go upwards and search for food tilting their heads up, a floating bait means a more tempting opportunity for them to take a bite.
See also: Rigging for trout (14 best rigs)
Casting Lures For Trout
If you are looking for another tactic to increase your chance of success, casting and retrieving lures is highly recommended. This technique is especially helpful during winter and spring, when the water is colder and more oxygenated.
Here, trout will swim around and actively seek food, making aggressive presentations from lures more appealing.
Fishing trout spinners & spoons
Spinners & spoons are highly recommended as lure tactics for beginners. To begin with, you need to drop them slowly and carefully until they reach the predetermined depth.
Then, retrieve the lures gradually enough to mimic the real actions of a live bait. This way, your lures will travel through different columns of water with enough finesse that attracts potential catch.
Make sure not to cast and retrieve these lures too quickly or else you would compromise the presentation. If the fish does not seem to get hooked, consider adding some bait.
Tiny details such as a minnow head, a worm, or even a few salmon eggs are enough. Not only do they increase the authenticity of your lures through the smell and color, but they also provide a focal point for the trout to bite.
Trout crankbaits & soft plastics
For experienced anglers, using trout crankbaits and soft plastics is a more advanced approach. This is because these lures can mimic the movements of a wounded animal underwater. So, how can you do it?
First off, you have to throw the lures deep into the water and start retrieving them. The trick here is to fuse the retrieval with enough twitches and jerks to imitate a wounded insect.
Trout are highly sensitive to such struggles, which means they will swarm around your lures and consider taking a bite. However, it should be noted that aggressive twitches alone will not suffice. If anything, they make trout become more suspicious.
Thus, after a series of jiggles, stop the crankbait and let it stay static for a while. The sudden halt works as an incentive for the trout to finally swallow the bait or risk losing much energy chasing after it.
The technique used for soft plastics is not widely different. Once casting, you have to retrieve the fishing line through a series of flutters and shudders. Try to keep the movements as diverse as possible.
Anything from jigging it off the bottom, throwing it violently from the top, or letting it swim idly should work if the conditions are favorable enough.
Still, bear in mind that the use of crankbaits and soft plastics may depend on external factors. The feeding behaviors of trout, weather conditions, and the characteristics of water bodies can heavily influence the outcome.
Trolling for trout
Another tactic used in trout fishing is to troll for them. While it provides you with lots of opportunities to reach different parts of the water body and increase your casting depth, it also presents various challenges, such as physical objects hindering your trolling path and amateur handling of the tools involved.
If you want to troll for trout, let’s start by finding something to sit on. Your vessel should be able to travel 1-3mph, so anything from a small boat, a canoe, or a kayak will do the job. Make sure this vessel can push your lures through the water, but not with much difference from your retrieval speed.
Now that you have prepared all the necessary equipment, let’s get to work. Throw your fishing line behind your vessel with an approximate length of roughly 50 to 70 yards, depending on how vast you want to cover.
Next up, start moving your vessel and let the propelling force keep your lure within the water body. Make sure the fishing line stays taut and the tip releases enough twitches to attract trout.
Keep the vessel away from weedy areas, tree logs, or mud. This way, you can avoid having your lures caught in these obstacles.
As for the speed, while the vessel has to be slow enough to let trout naturally come to you, sitting in one place will compromise the whole process as the lures will fall to the bottom.
Remember, you need to keep your lure’s movements steady and controlled. Rushing it or keeping it deliberately slow will not help. And finally, in case you notice aggressive feeding behaviors from trout, consider using crankbaits or spinners & spoons to garner more fish.
While experienced anglers can troll for trout all year round using special tools, beginners tend to be confined to winter months only. This is when trout feed near the surface level and are more susceptible to trolling lures.
For starters, you might want to keep the lure not deeper than 3 feet underwater. Several split shots may help you deepen your lure by 3 to 4 feet if the circumstances call for it. However, anything deeper than 10 feet requires the use of advanced trolling tools, which are not readily available for everyone.
Learning how to fish trout in lakes is a piece of cake after you know the basic steps. As long as you remember the tips and tricks in this article, your next trout fishing trip should be no problem. If you find the advice helpful, make sure to share it with your fellow anglers!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.