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So, You Want to Catch More Trout?
We assume that’s the case since you clicked the link to this page. If you are looking for some incredible trout fishing tips, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading to find a comprehensive list of resources, tips, and tricks that will help you catch more trout today.
But before that, let’s try a little experiment…
Where’s the Love?
Spend some time browsing social media, searching for fishing photos. It’s easier than ever to share your biggest catch of the season with the world. Between Reddit subcategories, Facebook groups and YouTube channels, there’s an endless supply of media for fishing enthusiasts to consume.
But how often do you really see posts about trout?
We will practically guarantee that you’ll be swarmed with pictures of whopper bass or giant catfish. You will probably see some beautiful walleye or even massive muskie thrown into the mix. And let’s not forget about the obligatory crappie, bluegill, and other easier-to-catch pan fish.
Somehow, success stories about catching trout often fall under the radar. Despite being one of the most popular fresh water game fish in North America, the trout simply doesn’t get the same visibility as many of his counterparts. This is kind of surprising, because trout are not only found all over the place, but they are also notorious fighters!
But, here’s some good news: If you’re reading this, you probably don’t have to travel far to catch some trout. In fact, if you are fishing fresh water in most of the United States (and even parts of Canada), chances are you’re casting into trout territory.
*Note: This tutorial will not cover any fly-fishing tips. For more information on this style, consider reading the following:
- 10 Tactics for Catching More Trout on Flies by Ted Leeson (via Field and Stream)
- Fly Fishing for Trout 101 by Jess Fischer (via TheOutbound)
- Fly Fishing for Trout (via FlyFisherman)
Let’s get started…
What is a Trout?
If you’re a novice angler or have only fished for a handful of species in the past, let’s start at the beginning.
If you visited this page, you might be asking yourself, “what exactly is a trout”?
Even though they are the fourth most popular game fish in North America (behind the various species of bass, pan fish, and catfish) even some veteran anglers have limited experience with trout fishing.
It’s All in the Family
A member of the Salmonidae family, the trout is a direct relative of the salmon, graylings, char, and freshwater whitefish. There are well over two-dozen sub-species of trout, but among the most popular among anglers are the following:
- Brown Trout
- Rainbow Trout/Steelhead Trout
- Brook Trout
- Cutthroat Trout
- Dolly Varden
- Lake Trout
- Bull Trout
An Oldie but a Goodie
While you may just be starting your trout fishing adventures, folks have been catching these guys for ages. In fact, written records of trout fishing date back nearly two-thousand years when Claudius Aelianus, a Roman teacher and author, called the brown trout the “fish with speckled skin” in his text On the Nature of Animals. Since then, countless books, chapters, articles, and how-to guides have been written on the subject.
If you’re looking for some more in-depth reading, consider picking up the following books:
- Joe Humphreys’s Trout Tactics: Updated & Expanded by Joe Humphreys
- Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan
- The Little Red Book of Fly Fishing by Kirk Deeter and Charlie Meyers
- Trout Fishing: The Tactical Secrets of Lake Fishing by Ed Rychkun
Does Size Matter?
Well, it depends on who you’re asking!
We’re only joking.
Honestly, when it comes to trout size (as with all things in life), beauty is in the eye of the rod holder.
All kidding aside, your trout fishing experience can vary tremendously based on the species, location, and time of year. This is why having a keen understanding about the different species of trout (and the locating you’re fishing) is helpful before hitting the water.
For example, an adult rainbow trout caught from a freshwater stream will generally average between one and five pounds. For the majority of anglers, catching a few of these would be considered a pretty good day. Conversely, a lake-dwelling variety of the same species (also known as a steel head) may weigh upwards of twenty pounds!
While that may seem impressive, consider this: the world-record brown trout, caught in New Zealand, weighed in at a whopping forty-two pounds! In September 2019, angler Bill Babler pulled in a forty pound, six ounce brown trout out of Springfield, Missouri’s Lake Taneycomo.
In 2015, Calvin Johnson of Missouri managed to land a thirty-eight pound, seven ounce brown trout while fishing on the White River in Arkansas.
With that being said, if you are looking to land an enormous trout, they are definitely out there. Even better, you don’t have to travel to New Zealand to snag one! Check out this comprehensive list of all brown trout state records to see the largest catches in your state.
Where is the Best Trout Fishing in the United States?
Short answer: it depends…
If you’re looking to go trout fishing, rest assured: trout are pretty easy to find!
Actually catching them may be another story, but the numerous species can be found in bodies of fresh water through much of North America.
So, where should you go?
Go High, Stay Cool
For starters, start with cool and clean lakes, rivers, and streams. Mountainous areas are particularly great, though you can successfully fish most northern states. Your ideal spots are going to be between 60-65 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15-18 degrees Celsius). However, trout can be found in temperatures as low as 39 degrees and as high as 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The water should also be well-oxygenated. If you can find some natural cover (such as rock beds or hanging vegetation), that’s even better.
As we mentioned, you can find various trout species throughout the United States. That said, some southern states like Florida and Louisiana are not as desirable locations for trout fishing.
Some of the Best Lakes and Rivers for Trout Fishing
If you are looking for specific sports to maximize your trout fishing experience, consider the following:
- Blackfoot River (near Missoula, Montana)
- Willowemoc River (in southeastern New York)
- Bitterroot River (near Hamilton, Montana)
- Lake Erie (in northern Ohio)
- Grebe Lake (in Yellowstone National Park)
- Spring Creek (near State College, Pennsylvania)
- Beaverkill River (near Roscoe, New York)
- Green River (in Wyoming and Utah)
- Manistee River (near Mancelona, Michigan)
- Lake Taneycomo (near Branson, Missouri)
- Lower Niagara River (between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario)
- Bristol Bay (near Anchorage, Alaska)
- Gore Lake and Gore Creek (near Vail, Colorado)
What is the Best Bait for Trout Fishing?
You can use both live and artificial baits to fish for trout. If you like to take a natural approach, check out our list of best live baits to fish for trout. For more variety, you can also read our best trout fishing lures review. Before hitting the water, however, be sure to keep in mind what species you’re fishing for.
For instance, if you are fishing in streams for rainbow trout, you’ll likely want invest in some top-water baits and lures as they are surface feeds. Conversely, if you are trout fishing on a lake, you’ll want to go deep for these bottom-feeders.
Choosing the right live baits for trout fishing
For many trout fishing enthusiasts (and experienced anglers in general), the old adage stands true — live baits work best. Red worms are a particular favorite, but again, be aware of your species and your body of water.
For surface feeding trout, consider using a mixture of insects (consider maggots or wax worms), minnows, and fish eggs. If you are fishing for bottom-feeders, switch to worms, mollusks, and various crustaceans.
Using Artificial Baits for Trout Fishing
Many anglers, however, like the challenge and versatility of artificial lures. The endless array of shapes, styles, colors, and customization can keep you busy for a lifetime! Tired-and-true lures like the Panther Martin Spinnerbait will always be in style while the Worden’s Rooster Tail and Mepp’s Trouter Kit also offer some great options.
You may also want to consider some of these other options:
- Panther Martin Spinnerbait
- Berkeley Gulp! Trout Dough (Garlic Scent)
- Joe’s Flies
- Rapala X-Rap
- Acme Phoebe
- Berkley PowerBait Magnum Floating Power Eggs (Garlic Scent))
- Worden’s Original Rooster Tail
- Blue Fox Classic Vibrax Spinner
- Mepp’s Aglia Original Plain Spinner
- Thomas Spinning Lures Buoyant Spoon
- Luhr Jensen Krocodile Spoon
- Yo-Zuri Pin’s Minnow
- Rebel Jointed Minnow
What are the Best Fishing Rods, Reels, and Line for Trout Fishing?
By now, you are on the right track.
You’ve picked your baits.
You’ve found a prime location.
Now, you need to equip yourself with a great rod and reel.
There is a common misconception among beginning anglers that any rod, reel, and line will be sufficient for any fishing trip. Sure, you can always get lucky or finesse your way to a catch on just about any setup. That said, spending time researching the right combination can pay real dividends in the long run.
How to Choose a Great Trout Fishing Rod
When it comes to trout fishing, you will generally use three types of rods: casting rods, spinning rods, and fly rods.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, we are only covering techniques that apply to the use of the first two. If you are interested in selecting the right fly fishing rod, check out this article by Jim Lepage and Marshall Cutchin.
For casting and spinning rods, however, you will want to consider the following:
- Action: Refers to how a rod flexes when placed under pressure. Generally, fast-action to medium-action rods are your best bet for trout fishing as you will be able to cast farther and maneuver surging and flipping the fish may perform while hooked. The increased flexibility and pliability of the faster-action rods, combined with added sensitivity, will typically give anglers more control over how they bring in their catch.
- Power: Refers to the resistance of a rod when it is being flexed. For trout fishing, most anglers typically use either a light or ultralight rod.
- Length: If you are looking for even greater control over your retrieval, casting distance, and presentation, a longer rod may work in your favor. That said, you will still want to stay under 8-feet. For a more accurate cast in heavily covered areas, consider using a rod between 6-7 feet long.
We also suggest using graphite rods whenever possible as they are lighter, stronger, and more sensitive than their fiberglass counterparts. You will also want to make sure you choose a rod than coincides with the type or reel you are using (i.e. casting rods with baitcasting reels, spinning rods with spinning reels).
Here are some of our suggestions for excellent trout fishing rods:
- Shimano Curado Spinning Rod
- Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris
- G. Loomis Fiber-Bend Float Spinning Rod
- St. Croix Trout Series Spinning Rod
- Berkley Lightning Rod Trout Spinning Rod
Selecting the Right Trout Fishing Reel
Because you will be using lighter baits and lighter rods, it goes without saying that you will likely want a lighter reel when you go trout fishing.
Should I Use a Baitcaster or a Spinning Reel?
While many anglers love the high gear-ratios and accuracy of a baitcaster, there are definite benefits to using a spinning reel.
For instance, when using lighter baits, your baitcaster is prone to backlash. You can avoid this as spinning reels are better equipped to handle many of the live baits and lures you will use when trout fishing.
Spinning reels will also afford anglers an added degree of finesse when presenting their baits.
Some of our favorite spinning reels for trout fishing include:
- Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel
- Abu Garcia SilverMax Spinning Reel
- Penn Fierce II Live Liner Spinning Reel
- Pfleuger Supreme XT Spinning Reel
- Pfleuger President Spinning Reel
- Shimano Nasci Spinning Reel
- Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Platinum Signature Spinning Reel
- Quantum Cabo PT Spinning Reel
What Type of Line Should I Use for Trout Fishing?
Finally, you will need some fishing line to go with your rod, reel, and bait. While there are several hybrid lines on the market, anglers will generally use one of three main styles: monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided line.
While monofilament is the most commonly used (and most cost-effective) line on the market and braided line is the strongest of the three, fluorocarbon line offers the best overall benefits when trout fishing.
First, fluorocarbon sinks must faster than monofilament. This is incredibly helpful when fishing at depth. Also, it offers incredible abrasion resistance, which can be a lifesaver when fishing in heavy coverage.
Perhaps the greatest benefit, however, is that fluorocarbon is practically invisible to fish. Because fluorocarbon allows light to pass through it (whereas monofilament tends to refract light), fish are far less likely to be aware of its presence in the water. For trout, which tend to “spook” easily, this is almost a must-have.
Are Trout Good to Eat?
Trout are considered both a game fish and a food fish.
While we are big advocates of catch-and-release here at Premier Angler, we also know many folks like to serve up what they pull in.
When prepared, trout are often roasted or smoked, seasoned with lemon or lime and a mixture of spices, and served with a variety of vegetables. That said, the culinary possibilities are practically endless. A quick Google search will produce hundreds of recipes that whet your appetite.
If you are planning to catch-and-cook, consider trying some of these delicious recipes:
- Grilled Lime Trout (via the Healthy Foodie)
- Trout with Orange Saffron Sauce (via Honest Food)
- Trout with Garlic Lemon Butter Herb Sauce (via Julia’s Album)
- Tuscan Grilled Trout (via Food and Wine)
Also, keep in mind that trout are considered an oily fish. Much like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines, trout fillets can carry up to 30% oil!
Have any other trout fishing tips, tricks, or insights? Let us know in the comments below!