Trout cannot be caught all year long in many regions, and not at all in others. For this reason, the best time of day and best time of year is important to know for trout fishing. Keep in mind that “trout” is informally used here, encompassing different species that exhibit different characteristics. This article discusses the best times to fish for trout in general so that you can apply it right away no matter where you are. The absolute best time to fish for trout is going to depend on the species in your specific body of water.
Best Time Of Day For Trout: When The Water Temperature Is Just Right
Trout are cold-water fish. This means that they take on the same body temperature as the water. For this significant reason, the best time of day to fish for trout depends on the water temperature. Trout are picky about where they’re situated on a daily basis. If it’s too hot or too cold, they get stressed out and expending energy for food becomes a struggle. Comfortable water temps are about 34F to 68F for trout, but temperatures away from the extremes are optimal. If the water temperature is around 68F, then we recommend that you come back another day. Fighting a trout in this temperature will prolong its recovery and can stress it out to the point of struggle. Same goes for water temperatures close to freezing. Taking a trout out of near-freezing water can quickly freeze its eyes and delicate gills posing a serious threat to its recovery. If the air temp is below freezing, then try your best to keep the trout in the water to prevent freezing.
Use A Thermometer
The best way to keep track of the water temp is to bring along a thermometer. Take a reading and it’ll help you decide if it’s worth fishing or not. If you’re pushing the extremes around 34F or 68F, there are a few things you can do to try and find better conditions.
Finding Trout In Warm Water
Try to arrive around dawn after the water has been cooled all night. As the water temp rises to the upper 60s, find areas that offer cooler water. Inflows of cool springs or mine drainages can offer fishable conditions on warm days, as well as areas that have thick canopies that block out the sun. On rivers and streams, sometimes this means moving closer to the source at higher elevations. In deep lakes and reservoirs, deep water in warm conditions is the key.
Finding Trout In Cold Water
If the air temp is near freezing, the first thing to remember is to try and keep any trout you catch in the water to prevent freezing. As for finding warm areas, it’s not totally different than finding cool water in warm conditions. Again, find springs or mine drainages. For rivers and streams, sometimes this means moving closer to the source at higher elevations. This is usually how you get the beautiful contrast between clear running streams that cut through snow covered ground. Water coming from underground sources will exit at a fairly constant temperature year-round.
Other areas to find include open areas that allow in lots of sunlight. This can make it possible to warm the water enough to make it fishable in certain areas, especially in lakes. At the chance that there are industrial buildings or power plants nearby, you can research if and where they dispose of any water they use. If it’s released into your fishing grounds, check the temps near the inflow. The water temp may be just right and offer fishy conditions. Just like in lakes and reservoirs in warm conditions, deep water in cold conditions is key.
Best Time Of Year: The Spring
The spring is by far the most popular and arguably the best time to fish for trout. Water temps are warming, insects are starting to hatch, and very hungry trout are on the move. In some instances, springtime popularity is tied to geographic location. Some areas at low elevations cannot sustain year-round trout populations because it gets too warm and stagnant. Trout stockings are usually focused in these areas for springtime fishing because there just aren’t many trout. Unfortunately, trout have a high mortality rate when it warms up in these areas.
As for areas that sustain good trout populations, the spring usually offers optimal water volume and water temperatures, especially those small mountain streams that hold brook trout. As the water warms, the metabolism of trout speed up and they start to get more aggressive. Concurrently, aquatic insects become active and start their maturation process. The largest and most popular insect hatches typically occur during this period. Look for fish rising to the surface eating lots of flies and other insects during this time. Besides using insect imitations, you can get aggressive with your techniques and trout lure selection. Spinners, jerkbaits, and jigs like those found in our trout kit will all work well at this time.