When is the Best Time to Fish for Trout: A Brief Guide

Trout fishing is quite popular among anglers and new fishing enthusiasts. It’s a bit challenging to catch trout compared to other fish. Aside from applying special tricks, you must know the perfect time to use the baits.

To know when is the best time to fish for trout is difficult as it depends on many factors. Different seasons may present different scenarios. Trout fish are susceptible to temperature too. Let’s read this article to figure out the best time for fishing trout.

Best Time of Day to Fish for Trout: Usually, Spring is the Best Time to Fish for Trout

If you ask when is the best time to fish for trout, the answer would be spring. Spring is considered to be the best time for fishing trout, and several reasons are behind it. The behavior of most fish is predictable during the spring, and trout is no exception. The credit goes to the season before spring – cold winter.

When is the Best Time to Fish for Trout

During wintertime, trout seldom comes to the upper surface for food. As trouts are cold-blooded, they rest and decide not to move too much for food in winter. Winter is their hibernation period. The scenario starts to change as spring approaches. As spring begins, the weather starts to warm up a little and boosts their metabolism. Hence, they start to come out of their nest in search of food.

Trout behave differently during spring as they have waited the whole winter; hence, their activity is heightened during the springtime due to being ravenous. They are desperate for food, which means they can easily fall prey to baits or lures.

Another reason why trout are easy to catch during the spring is that they let their guard down completely in winter. Since they tend to take rest for a long time and remain inactive, they become less aware of their surroundings. Taking advantage of this lacking helps to catch a lot of trout in the springtime.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

Spring is when the weather changes from winter to summer. So, the temperature spikes up and down all the time, which makes the trout’s behavior vary significantly during spring.

When the temperature starts to swing up slowly, the trout begin to come out and hunt for food. At the beginning of this thawing period, trout are still in a daze – they are not on their guard and can be caught easily. Bright sunlight can increase the chance of getting a lot of trout in one place. Rain also helps to assemble them in one place.

Look at Shallow Water for Trout

Trout tend to flock up in shallow water, just as the ice is melting and spring has begun. In shallow water, insects and worms are abundant. These areas have overgrown weeds, and the water is more transparent. Trout find it much easier to hunt for food there. You can find them anywhere in the pond in springtime, but they look for food the most in shallow water. It’s easier to catch fish from the shore where there’s shallow water.

Best Time to Fish for Trout: In Summer

In summer, temperatures fluctuate a lot. 50 to 60 degrees F is the optimum temperature for trout fish. Any more significant than this range of temperature makes them inactive again. Temperature above 60 degrees tends to make them slower as they cannot withstand it and hide in deeper water. A chart below can come in handy to know the trout activity state during the summer.

75o – Lethal temperature

70o – Dangerous temperature

65o – Trout look for cooler water and slow feeding

60o – Optimal temperature for rainbow trout

55o – Optimum temperature for brook and brown trout

50o – Active feeding time

45– Trout feed intermittently

Look for Trout in Cold Water

When the temperature starts to hike up, the trout start looking for cooler water during the later summer. They tend to seek out places in deep water to stay in. They hide in the deep holes, nooks, and crannies of the deep lake during the hottest hours. As the summer progresses, anglers need to get away from shores and inches towards the deeper middle part of the water source. During the dawn and dusk, the temperature is the coolest. You are likely to find trout near the shore during these times.

What about water sources such as rivers and streams? Trout behave differently in streaming water compared to stagnant water like ponds.

Trout also migrate to an elevated place to avoid the heat because water temperature in the mountains is usually at the right range for trout. In the mountain water, there is little source of food for the trout. This means you have an advantage here to catch more trout than in horizontal water sources as the trout can easily be lured. They are easily caught by applying baits. However, the size of the trout in these higher locations is usually slightly smaller than the river trout. The size is compensated by the huge amount of trout fish roaming there.

Always Focus on Water Temperature

Fishing in summer can be much easier if you monitor the water temperature. Above 75 degrees F, trout fish cannot survive. So, observing the temperature is very important. Measuring air temperature would not be effective, as the temperature gradient is quite wide. Use a water thermometer to detect the temperature and predict the location of the trout. This will save a lot of work and you can do effective fishing.

Best Time to Fish for Trout: In Spawn

The spawning season for trout usually arrives at the end of spring. The fish’s behavior changes drastically during the spawning time which anglers take advantage of. Not just this behavior, the color and pattern of their coat also change – the adult fish exterior changes to red from silver. The male and female trout can be differentiated easily as the spawning season begins. Trout fish is extremely aggressive during this time. This is the time they start hoarding and consuming as much food as they can. They even end up eating each other’s eggs. So, at times egg-shaped lures are used to catch them or trigger a response from them.

Rainbow trout reach maturity sooner than the other species. They begin spawning during the spring and onto the summer, and the brown trout spawn from September to November, the autumn period. Lake trout usually spawn at night and mostly right before the winter or late autumn. Their different choices of spawning time are related to their anatomy and tolerance to a different temperature. If you ask experienced anglers when is the best time for fishing trout, many would say spawning or pre-spawning time.

Best Time to Fish for Trout: Fall

If fishing in the spring is not possible, try to fish during fall. Fall is considered to be the second-best time for fishing trout. The temperature starts to fall down and is near the winter. So, trout behavior varies from early fall to late fall. Although the same rules apply as springtime, few things change during the fall.

Fishing in the Streams

Trout fish may prefer river or streaming sources as they are at optimum temperature for them. The problem is that it’s slightly challenging to fish in streaming water, as you would need to be nearer to them to catch. Try using fly or lures and avoid making huge splashes that scare them away. Try to approach them as quietly as possible; disrupting the crowd in a streaming source will make it ten-fold harder to fish.


Falling leaves is how you know that fall has arrived. This is also the reason why fall is considered an excellent time for fishing. Falling leaves carry insects such as beetles or ants, which happen to be a favorite food of trout. As the leaves fall into the water, the fish get more food sources. However, this also means a lot of non-food items may stack up in water. Trout fish may not be able to distinguish the food from non-food items.

Remember that trout fish are intrigued by moving objects like any other fish. These falling leaves or twigs will attract them to the shore. Try to use lures or baits- any moving objects to catch them—trout crowd over in the shallow water for the same reason above. Insects are blown into the water by the autumn wind, creating more fishing opportunities for the anglers.

Best Time to Fish for Trout: Winter

Like most fish, trout are not very active during the wintertime. They hibernate during the cold period and run on stored food items collected over the fall season. For any cold-blooded animals like fish, they would have a prolonged metabolism during the cold months. They hide in the deeper water where the temperature is optimum for them to survive. Even though it’s the offseason for trout, there are still ways to fish them. 

Whether or not you can utilize the winter to your advantage will greatly depend on the state you are in. In warm states such as Texas, Tennessee, Florida (the seashore states), winter can be an excellent time for fishing trout. This is because the temperature during the winter in these areas is still suitable for trout to survive and thrive.

In colder climates, though, the situation is quite different, and winter may not be ideal for fishing. The trout fish are in a resting mode and are lazy. It’s unlikely they would come out during the freezing temperature at the surface water. You may have to use deepwater fishing accessories. The tools you would be using need to be very attractive for them to grab. Using colorful baits or spin fishing tools may come in handy during these situations.

If you live in the northern states, ice fishing may be a great option too. How? Trout fish feed in the shallow areas of water and stay at the warmest part of the lakes. However, try not to agitate them excessively by using minnows. Artificial baits and jigs are great options for ice fishing.

When is the Best Time of Day To Fish Trout?

When is the best time for fishing trout during the day? Early morning and later afternoon or evening is the best time for fishing trout. Although fish eat all day, they hunt for prey during these periods the most. However, it will also depend on the season. In early spring, the flies hatch during the warmest time of the day, and the same thing happens during the winter. Trout feed on hatched flies, so knowing where the flies hatch helps to locate the fish too.

Which is the Best Temperature To Fish Trout?

Trout fish are extra sensitive to temperature. A lot depends on the weather to decide when is the best time for fishing for trout. Higher temperatures are harmful to their growth. As climate change is escalating, the surface water temperature increased significantly. So, the weather is an important issue to look out for when fishing for trout. Trout feed at 53 degrees F to 64 degrees F and become weak at a higher temperature like 70 or above. Rainbow trout and brown trout prefer 54 degrees F to 66 degrees F, while lake trout tend to thrive between 45 degrees F to 64 degrees F.

Final Words

There is no single answer to when is the best time to fish for trout. Overall, we can say that spring is the best time, though it can vary due to locations and climate. Dawn and dusk remain the best time of day, and temperature will affect the feeding time greatly.

Also, you can learn about Best spinning reels here.

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