Trout Fishing Tips & Techniques – How To Catch Trout

The right advice on how to catch trout can make all the difference when starting out. Its is an enjoyable way to spend a day on or near the water so long as you have the right trout fishing tips on hand. As there are a few different types of trout, however, and fishing for each of them can be a bit different.

Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout are often found in rivers and streams. Lake Trout and Steelhead are more likely to be found in the deep water of many lakes.

The good news is that trout of all kinds are heavily stocked in lakes and streams throughout the country. One of the reasons for this dates back to the 1800s. During the industrial revolution, there was some concern that men would stay inside working at their jobs and lose a bit of their “manly” attitudes and provider abilities.

Trout are fairly easy fish to catch, and they do well in a variety of cool water environments. The thinking of the day was, if these fish were prevalent in many waters throughout the country, men would still be able to go out and catch fish to provide for their families.

Today trout are still stocked all over the country. They are still fairly easy to catch, and many people who fish for them love to eat them right off the camping stove, too, as they are a very clean tasting fish. Trout fishing can be as simple, or as complicated, as an anglers makes it.

This can be said for many species, but it is especially true for trout. Many anglers use simple spinning gear from the shore of a stream. Others charter boats on big waters such as the Great Lakes to get their limit of Lakers. Still others go to great lengths to tie their own flies and fly fish for trout in small streams throughout the country. Fishing from a kayak is a relatively new sport but increasingly popular with the advent of many new well rigged fishing kayaks.

The sport of trout fishing, really, can be whatever the angler makes of it. The first thing an angler must know, however, is a bit about the regulations governing the fish they wish to catch, especially if you are a beginner.


At the very least, in order to fish for trout, an angler will need a valid fishing license. Many areas also require special permits or trout stamps as well. Anglers must know the regulations in the area they wish to fish. It is up to each individual to ensure they have the proper licenses and permits before heading to any area waterway.

The local bait and tackle store is a good place to start when looking to find regulations. Each store will have the current regulation book. Most can also tell anglers what else they may need in order to fish legally in some areas.

Tackle shops are a great source of information in this, and all, areas of fishing. They have a lot of information about where the fish are biting and what anglers are using to catch them. An angler can have all of the regulations memorized, but if they are headed to a place that doesn’t have many trout, they still may not catch any. It’s important to know a bit about the fishery before heading out, if possible.


Research goes hand in hand with learning the regulations. Researching a waterway or fishery before heading out is a good way to get prepared and to bring greater success on the water. There are maps available from local tackle stores as well as online.

Looking at one of these maps, and learning to read them properly, will help anglers determine where the fish are most likely to be during a given season. These maps will show depths as well as structure and even what cover is available to the fish.

Most fish like to be able to simply lie in wait and snag a quick meal as if floats by them. Trout are no different. Some fisheries departments also have maps available online that may show different details from the traditional maps available.

They may also have more maps available for smaller streams and rivers that the large map companies have not yet mapped. Keep in mind that the actual waterway may be different from what the map says, depending on how old the map is. This is especially true for tout streams across the country.

Google Earth can also be a great resource for lakes and streams alike. Many anglers use Google Earth every time before they head out to a new body of water. Google Earth can show many things that an angler may not see in the water just fishing from shore, or even from a boat.

Often Google Earth will show creek channels and swings that are hard to pick apart without seeing them from the air. This program can also show rock piles, for instance, that may hold fish, and other structure and cover in the water.

Recently, another program, Fishidy, has come along that many anglers see as a great tool. This program overlays a contour map with Google Earth, providing the angler with an even clearer picture of what may be going on under the water.

Research doesn’t end once an angler gets to the water, however. Anglers should take some time and use their powers of observation. Checking the shores around the area an angler wishes to fish can be extremely useful, especially for those fishing in small streams and rivers.

There may be evidence along the shoreline indicating on what the fish are feeding. Bug carcasses from a fresh hatch may indicate trout are keyed into bugs on the surface. Trout will also eat small crustaceans, so looking for crayfish along the shoreline may point the angler in a different direction as far as what lures to use.

The lures and angler should use are those that will most closely mimic the forage available to the trout. If there are pods of smaller bait fish everywhere, that could be a good indicator for choice of lures, as well. Using their powers of observation, trout anglers can learn a lot about the fishery before they even cast a line.

Rivers & Streams

Trout prefer waters that are in the 50 – 60 degree range. They need a great deal of oxygen, and the cooler the water, the more oxygen is available to them. This is one reason they are often found in areas near current.

Flowing water will be more oxygenated as well. Anglers should look for deep pools of water that have been created by current. Big fish tend to hold in these areas, waiting for food to float by.

That is part of the reason it’s important to always cast upstream. As the bait or lure comes back downstream, it will seem much more natural to an unsuspecting trout. Looking as natural as possible is very important in a successful fishing day.

Trout will also hide behind cover to ambush their prey, as many other fish do. If there are big boulders present in a stream, trout may hide on the downstream side of those boulders. This keeps them out of the strong current so they don’t use as much energy, but it also keeps them close to an area where their prey may float by.

Undercut banks are also a great place to find trout. They hide under these banks for the same reasons they hide behind boulders. The current isn’t as strong, but they are still close to current, which means the water is rich in oxygen and there is a good chance something will float by that the trout would like to eat.


As the water warms, anglers should keep in mind that trout like cool water. From all the trout fishing tips, this is the most important one to remember: trouts like it cool. This means they will be out deeper as the summer sun starts to warm the water into the 70s or higher. Water this warm does not have as much oxygen, meaning it will not provide the ideal living circumstances for trout.

Trout will also tend to stay where they can find food without traveling too far. Oxygenated, cool water and food are the two main needs of trout in a lake, just as in a stream. In lakes, however, the trout may follow the bait fish around. They will still use ambush points, and anglers should look for places a fish could sit and wait for a meal while not expending a great deal of energy.

Lake trout tend to group together in lakes where they are present. That means that if an angler catches one in an area, odds are good that there are more in that same areas. There is no need to move after catching each fish as bass anglers do, for example. If an angler finds a fish in one location, he should keep fishing that area until he is sure he has exhausted the supply of fish there.

Finding fish in lakes can seem more daunting than in smaller streams. However, good fishing electronics even the playing field. While some of these electronics can be expensive, many avid anglers find that they are well worth the cost when fishing from a boat. By using fishfinder electronics, anglers can find schools of bait fish, and even game fish.

It is easier to determine at what depth the fish are holding, and then find likely areas throughout the lake before driving to those areas. Electronics including a map and some sort of sonar are a great place to start.

Today’s more sophisticated electronics have different types of imaging available as well. They can help an angler get a better picture of what is not only underneath the boat, but out to the sides and, truly, all around the boat also. Electronics are a great way to have more success on the water.

Tackle & Gear

When some anglers think of trout fishing, especially in smaller streams, they often think of fly fishing. Many fly fisherman spend hours creating their own perfect flies and have spent many more hours perfecting their casting ability.

Equipment tends to be more expensive with this form of fishing as well. Fly fishing is undoubtedly more difficult to learn than some other forms of fishing, but it can bring a great deal of satisfaction to the angler who has the patience, and the skill, to master it.

Trout fishing, though, does not need to be expensive or complicated. Truly, it is a form of fishing in which even beginners can have a good deal of success. When wading or shore fishing, a light spinning gear is preferred.

While a closed-bale reel can be used, an open-bale spinning reel is recommended. It is more versatile and can be easier to use and maintain. Decent rod and reel combos can be found in many big box stores as well as tackle shops, and can be had for $20 – $30.

Many of them come spooled with monofilament line already. If they are not spooled, anglers should have the tackle store spool 4 – 8 lb. test line onto the reel.

With just a small amount of tackle such as split shot weights and some #6 – #10 hooks, an angler is ready to pick up some bait and head out to the stream for a day’s fishing.

While lure selection is a topic for it’s own discussion, it bears some mention here. Again, the tackle shop can help an angler select lures that are working well in the area.

Spinners and spoons are popular for trout fishing. The flash put off by the blades gets the fish’s attention and can bring some great reaction strikes. They can also hear the blades in the water from a way off, so they are ready to strike when the lure comes by.

Soft plastic finesse worms and bug imitations can be a good choice, too. And there are even small crank baits that imitate bugs and aphids that may fall into the water from the trees above. All of these can work well in different situations.

Anglers should remember that whatever they decide to throw for a lure, it should look like whatever it is that the trout are eating in that fishery. The more natural-looking the bait, the more successful the angler will be.

Fish Care

No discussion of fishing is complete without touching on fish care. May anglers practice catch and release all the time, fishing simply for the sport of it. All fish that do not meet the size requirements for a given fishery must be released.

This makes fish care very important. If an angler is taking fish home to eat, they can simply put the fish on ice to keep them fresh until they can be cleaned and properly taken care of. But when fish are to be released back into the water, there are a few more things to keep in mind.

All fish, trout included, have a special slime coat on them. This slime protects them from disease and bacteria that may be in the water. For that reason, it is important to handle fish as little as possible. This slime coat can be removed by handling the fish.

Before touching a trout, an angler should wet their hands. This will help preserve that slime coat in the fish. If the hook can be removed without touching the fish, that is even better. Using a rubberized net rather than a nylon net is also better for the fish.

When releasing the fish back into the water, anglers should remember that the fish may have used up a great deal of energy in the fight after being hooked. They may not swim away immediately. If an angler notices a fish struggling, they should try to help the fish gain its equilibrium again before releasing it.

This is done by gently holding the fish by the stomach, helping it to stay upright. Hold the fish completely under water and gently move it back and forth slightly. When it is ready, it will then swim away so someone else can catch it another day.

Practice Your Technique

Hopefully the above trout fishing tips will help you next time you head out to the lake. This is a sport most people can pick up fairly quickly. Trout are plentiful in most areas of the country and can be fairly easy to catch at times. Anglers should research the regulations and the fishery to where they are planning a trip before heading out.

Once there, an angler’s powers of observation will help determine the best lures to use and the best areas to start in their search for trout. Trout fishing does not have to be complicated or expensive. It can be a great way to enjoy a day outside with friends, family, or even alone, just to get away from life’s stresses and hassles.

The big thing on how to catch trout is to just keep it simple and enjoy the time on the water. If an angler happens to bring home dinner out of the adventure, that’s just an added bonus.