How to Fish for Trout in a Lake-Hidden Tips & Tricks

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Alongside bass and catfish, trouts are quite common in the US. They are tasty, and most anglers love going for them since they are plenty in freshwater bodies. If you plan to catch some trout in the lake, there is much you need to know, especially if you are a beginner. 

First, catching trout in a lake is a bit different from streams and rivers. Even experienced anglers in rivers and streams may find it challenging fishing for trout in lakes from shore. You will need to slightly change your fishing techniques as well as lures and baits. You don’t need to worry, though. In this article, I will guide how to fish for rainbow trout in a lake as well as other types of trout. Let’s get into it:

Where to Find Trout in a Lake 

When learning how to fish for brook trout in a lake, the hard part is knowing where to find them. When you know how to find them, it increases your chances of landing some. To find them with ease, consider using the following tips.

Know the Food that Trout Prefer 

Like other fish, trout have specific needs in terms of food. In rivers and other moving water bodies, trout can wait for the current to bring it food, but things are different in lakes since the water is still. This means trout have to move around in search of food. That said, you will need to find the food they like to lure them into your trap. 

Luckily, trout food is not hard to find. They prefer smaller animals, including worms, insects, and even smaller fish. Sometimes, trout have to come close to the shore searching for food, making it even easier for you to catch them. 

Note the Temperature of the Water 

Trout are cold-blooded, meaning they prefer spending their time where the water is the coldest. Temperatures above 70° F may be too much for trout. Therefore, if the water on the shore feels too hot, trout will go deeper into the water. Please keep that in mind when fishing during warmer months and learn how to fish for trout in a deep lake.

Check out the right temperatures for the different types of trout:

  • When the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, trout often feed intermittently. 
  • Trout are actively feeding when the temperature is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal temperature for brook and brown trout 
  • Rainbow trout prefer feeding when the temperature is about  60 degrees Fahrenheit
  • At 65° F, trout slow their feeding and begin looking for cooler areas in the lake 
  • From 70° F, the temperature starts becoming dangerous for trout

Find the Thermocline 

Thermocline may sound like a complicated term, but the concept is straightforward. Technically, the warmer water at the top of the lake is less dense compared to the cold water at the bottom. Instead of circulating, the water stays on top, creating two water areas: the warmer (at the top) and the colder (at the bottom).

Between the two areas, there are is a border. This border is the one called a thermocline. The thermocline is often the perfect blend of cooler temperature and oxygen, making it an ideal spot for trout to spend time.

The best way to find the thermocline is by asking the wildlife professionals in your area. The thermocline is often an essential measure for lake wildlife, meaning there is a huge possibility you can find the information there. Alternatively, you can ask other anglers who may already know where the thermocline is. 

Look for Rises 

Sometimes you don’t need to look too hard to find trout in the lake. From time to time, trout rises to the surface to feed, and you can notice the ripples they make while the rising. When you get to the lake, take some minutes off and study it.

If you notice rises in a certain area, that’s where you should cast your lure. Remember that they are all looking for food. Therefore, when you see one, it means there are more down there. 

Find Shade 

Trout do not have eyelids, so they cannot close their eyes. This means that they try to avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. That said, if it is sunny, you will likely find trout in places with overhanging trees since the trees provide shelter to them.  

Also, trout are prey in as much as they predators. Therefore, they still need to be careful not to be targeted by birds and other predators. One of the best ways of hiding is finding shelter in overgrown trees and human-made structures like docks. Such areas are great areas to fish for rainbow trout in a lake from the shore.

Use a Fish Finder 

I know this sounds obvious, but you will be surprised by the number of people who don’t even think of it while trout fishing. Most fish finders are made for boats, but you can also find a few good ones you can use from the shore.

When to Fish for Trout 

 There are sometimes better suited for trout fishing than others. Check them out:

Wait for Warming Weather 

Early summer and spring are the perfect times to catch trout from the shore. They were eating very little during the winter, and they need to replenish their energy during these warming weathers. Typically, all trout are active a week or two after winter.

Fish at Dawn or Dusk 

The perfect time to catch trout from the shore is at dawn since they are the most active. Also, the water at the top is cooler, and you will find the trout from the top with ease. You can also fish at dusk when the water is cooling off again.

Fishing during the middle of the day is okay, but I don’t recommend it, especially if it’s sunny. However, if it’s cloudy, it will be pretty much the same as in the morning. The clouds keep the brightness and heat in check. 

What to Use to Catch Trout in a Lake 

Since trout are not that large, it is safe to use a light tackle. Most people use spinning reels for trout fishing, but there are some baitcasters designed for the same. 

Use a rod with an ultralight/light action for maximum sensitivity. Also, it won’t be much of a burden, so you can fish all day without feeling tired. 

Since you will probably fish in an open area with no vegetation, go for a longer rod for superior casts. Shorter rods are often more accurate but don’t cast over longer distances like longer ones. Finally, know the type of lures or baits to use.  

Baits to Use for Trout Fishing 

Here are your options:


One thing you need to know about how to fish stocked trout in a lake is powerbaits works the best for them. Stocked trout are often fed with pellets at their hatcheries, and these pellets look and smell pretty much the same as Powerbaits. During the transition period, the trout will fall for anything that looks familiar, making powerbait a perfect choice.

  • Power Eggs are excellent for stocked trout even long after they have stayed in the lake. 
  • Power nuggets are great for newly stocked trout. They look pretty much the same as the pellets used in hatcheries. The good thing about this option is that the nuggets stay on the hook for a longer period than a standard powerbait.


Worms are an excellent choice for catching trout in a lake. They are a part of trout’s diet, and trout will jump on your hook whenever you use worms as bait. Get worms from your nearest bait shop and use a bait blower to ensure the hook floats off the bottom when you rig. Alternatively, you can use a bobber with a split shot. 

While hooking the worm, ensure that it hides all parts of the hook. Trout are cautious fish and will probably not take the bait if they notice the hook. 

You can also purchase earthworm imitations from a fish store and use them instead of living baits. The “artificial” worms do not move like live worms, but their enhanced scent attracts trout. They last longer and do not require any refrigeration or special maintenance. 


The use of shiners to catch trout is one of the oldest tricks. Trout are often looking for easy-to-catch prey. When you hook up a shiner, it means it won’t be moving, making it easy prey for the trout. And since shiners make up a large part of their diet, they always fall for them

Please keep it in mind that trout are looking for alive and wounded shiners, not dead ones. Therefore, while hooking them up, make sure they are alive but firmly attached. I recommend hooking the shiner through the back near the dorsal fin to keep it alive, moving, and firmly attached to the hook. However, make sure not to puncture the spine while hooking up.  

Shiners are available in most bait stores, and they are relatively cheap. Please bring a bucket to keep them and keep them away from direct sunlight. Your goal should be to keep the shiners alive and active enough to attract trout. 

Lures to Use for Trout Fishing 

When fishing from the shore, you will often need to cast over a long distance to get to where the trout are hiding. To do that, you will need a longer rod and lures that can help with cast distances. Spoons, crankbaits, and spinners are excellent. 


If you want to know how to fish brown trout in a lake, you need to keep in mind that spoons are excellent lures for the same. They imitate a wounded fish, and their bright metallic feature catches the trout’s eye. They are even more useful during windy days as they cast farther than crankbaits and spinners. 

You can get spoons from your local bait store. Ask your fellow anglers for the best spoons for trout fishing or conduct some research online. You can try the Acme Kastmaster if you don’t know where to begin. The spoon is quite popular for trout fishing, but you should be careful with it since it catches weed more often than others.  


Spinners are equally effective for trout fishing. However, they are often used in moving water and can be trickier in still lake water. However, if you get the right spinner, it won’t matter whether you are fishing in a lake or river.

One of the best trout fishing spinners is the Worden’s Rooster Tail. The spinner works everywhere, and it is excellent even when fishing from the shore. The “hackle” that comes with it helps imitate several trout foods, attracting trout’s attention regardless of your fishing location. 


Crankbaits are also quite popular when it comes to catching trout in lakes. However, you need to ensure you have picked the right crankbait for the job before you head out. For example, if you plan to catch trout from the shore, I recommend using lighter crankbaits. If you plan to catch trout from deep in the lake, I recommend using heavier lures to help with the sinkage. 

Fly Fishing from the Shore 

Fly fishing from the shore is not always easy, but it is still manageable. Most shores barely provide enough space for casting, which is a problem. However, if you can find an open spot on the shore, you can catch some trout through fly fishing. To make it easier for you, follow these tips:

  • Use an indicator while wet fly fishing to control the depth of the fly. The indicator will allow you to experiment, dropping the fly deeper and deeper until you find the perfect spot. The indicator also helps you gauge the retrieval. 
  • Use chironomids and nymphs, especially during the early season for trout fishing. Just ensure to get the right depth while using the flies.
  • Use mayflies and midges. These two are particularly essential when you know your local hatches. But generally, midges are among the preys trout feed on early in the season. Therefore, consider using midges early in the season. Use mayflies a little later in the season. 

Bait Rigs for Trout 

Catching trout from a lake without a boat is not always easy since your depth target is often limited. However, if you use trout-focused rigs, you can increase your chances of catching trout without necessarily owning a boat.  

You will need to understand how temperature and seasons affect the availability of trout in the sea.

For example, during the colder weather, you can find trout from the shore since the water is colder at the surface, and the fish got to eat. During the summer, you will probably need to cast far from the shore. You can use an egg sinker to help the lure go deeper to where the trout are. Here’s how you can use different bait rigs.

Bottom Rig 

 Bottom Rig

A bottom rig is excellent when fishing with floating baits. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Thread on an egg sinker to help with the sinkage and then tie the swivel. 
  • Cut off a piece of your fishing line (mono or fluorocarbon), roughly between two and four feet. Please keep it in mind that the deeper you plan to fish, the longer the leader line should be. 
  • Tie the fishing hook to with the leader line and then secure your bait with the hook. 

This tactic should be your first choice if you plan to catch trout in open water, like lakes. You should ensure the bait is as close to the thermocline when you cast.

It is worth noting that you can also use the bottom rig with live baits. If the weather is a bit too harsh for live baits rigs, you can use the bottom rig. However, you should note that it won’t be as effective as with floating baits. 

Slip Bobber Rig 

Slip Bobber Rig

This rig is particularly essential if you plan to catch fish near the top surface. That means it is more useful during the winter when the water is colder at the top, and the trout can rise in the search for food.

  • Thread on a slip tie and then remove the tube 
  • Slide on a bed before sliding in the slip bobber 
  • Tie the hook and ensure there is a split shot measuring about one foot above the fishing hook 
  • Pull the tag ends to make a knot and then clip off the excess line. 
  • Add your trout fishing bait to the hook and ensure it is all covered.
  • Set the bait about two foot down to ensure the float does not spook the trout

If you don’t notice trout coming up to the surface, there is a huge possibility they are feeding on baitfish. To increase your chances, bait the hook with a minnow and set it about half the water column (2.5 feet down the water).

If you still don’t get lucky, maybe they are deep down. Set your bait about three feet down the water. Even if the trout are deep down, they will still come upwards to feed since that’s what they always do. 

Casting Lures for Trout Fishing in a Lake 

As a beginner, I recommend using the casting and retrieving technique. The technique will allow you to cover more water at different lengths, increasing your chances of catching more trout. This technique is even more productive during the colder weather when the trout are active and near the lake’s top surface.

Frequently Asked Question about Trout Fishing

I visited several fishing communities on Google and had a look at some of the most common questions about trout fishing. I hope the answers to some of these questions will make your fishing experience easier and even more fun. 

What is the Best Bait for Trout Fishing? 

Live baits and, to be specific, worms are the best baits for trout fishing. You can choose between Nightcrawlers, garden hackles, and red wigglers. Most anglers consider Nightcrawlers the best option, but other worms are equally good. Worms are attractive to the trout, and they are easy to find. They are also easier to keep and rig. 

What Gear Should I Use for Trout Fishing? 

A lightweight spincasting or spinning rod with a compatible spinning reel plus a 4-5 pound monofilament line should do it. Use size eight bait hooks and a handful of 1/16 ounce spinners.

However, there are some baitcasting reels and rods specifically designed for trout fishing. If you are not comfortable with spincasting, which is unlikely, you can always use baitcasting. 

What is the Best Time for Trout Fishing?

The best time for trout fishing is affected by several factors. However, spring is, in most cases, considered the best time for trout fishing. The combination of the rising temperature and the increased amount of food makes the season great for trout to feed. And when the trout are actively feeding, they become easier to catch.

What are the Best Colors for Trout Fishing Lures?

The best colors for trout lures are often white and gold. However, you can still use green, brown, black, silver, red, yellow, and orange as long as they match the trout’s forage. 

Will a Trout Die If I Touch It?

If you have to touch the trout you catch, then make sure that your hands are wet. If you touch it with dry hands, you will end up removing the protective mucus, making it vulnerable. When the mucus layer is removed, the fish is exposed to fungus, making it die quickly. 

Wrapping Up 

If you want to catch trout from the lake, especially from the shore, you need to start thinking like a trout. Consider the temperatures they prefer, the food they like, and fish at the right times. Once you understand these factors, it will be relatively easy to catch trout whenever you go out. Hopefully, this guide has provided you with everything you need to know about trout lake fishing.


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