The sport of trout fishing is enjoyed by thousands of outdoorsmen and women on an annual basis and continues to grow in popularity with each passing year.
Anglers who are drawn to trout fishing, often thrive upon the challenge presented by such pursuits. Trout can be difficult to catch, even for experienced anglers, making such endeavors a worthy challenge for those seeking to test fishing prowess.
The most successful of trout anglers are masters of efficiency, as they make the most out of every available second on the water. This level of efficiency often comes as a result of knowing when and where to fish, in order to find consistent success.
While one should never hesitate to wet a line whenever possible, there do tend to be certain times of the day when trout fishing proves to be most productive.
The following guide will assist you in identifying these times, thereby allowing you to elevate your trout fishing expertise to the next level.
Table Of Contents
Why Does Time Of Day Matter?
Most all species of fish feed more heavily during certain times of the day than others. Trout is no exception to this rule, and feed predominantly at certain times of the day when food can be found with relative ease.
In reality, the time of the day in which trout feed most heavily often runs in parallel to periods that provide the most favorable water temperatures.
Though trout tend to favor cooler, oxygen-rich water, unseasonably cool water temperatures can lead to periods of lethargy. During these times, trout often feed during warmer periods of the day, when ambient air temperature peaks.
Likewise, hot, stifling weather often brings feeding to a crawl, due to an overall decline in the available oxygen content of the water. In situations such as these, trout will typically feed during cooler periods of the day, when conditions are far more ideal.
Catching trout with a high level of consistency involves understanding this phenomenon, and making the necessary adjustments to capitalize on trout feeding patterns.
In essence, an angler will always tend to find greater success, in any situation where trout are already feeding in abundance.
Best Times By Season
As outlined above, temperature variations play a significant role in determining the best time of day to catch trout.
However, daily temperatures can fluctuate quite drastically in most regions. Therefore, the best time of day to catch trout generally changes from one season to the next.
The following are the best fishing times to catch trout, during each time of the year.
During the spring of the year, nighttime temperatures tend to be rather cool, while daytime temperatures commonly rise to a far more hospitable level.
As a result, cooler water temperatures persist, with deeper water, such as that encountered when lake fishing, being the last to warm.
Some of the best trout fishing during the spring is usually found during the mid-morning period. During this time of the day, water temperatures have generally risen enough to entice activity, from otherwise lethargic trout.
Likewise, insect activity tends to peak during this time of the day, during the spring season. Because trout feed heavily upon insects, this presents a relative buffet for awaiting lake trout, rainbow trout, and brook trout.
The mid-afternoon period also tends to be quite productive when trout fishing during the spring. At this point, daily water temperatures have yet to begin falling, and insect activity remains steady.
During the summer months, temperatures in much of the country skyrocket, blanketing the land in the sweltering heat.
Nighttime temperatures typically fall to a much more comfortable level, often 30+ degrees cooler than the daily high.
This is a fact that trout rely upon when feeding during the staggering heat of the summer.
Trout, which are naturally inclined toward cold water, tend to limit their mid-day feeding activity during the hottest months of the summer.
In fact, many anglers will find difficulty in drawing multiple strikes during the peak temperatures of the day.
However, success can still be found during the first and last hours of daylight each day. In general, the first three hours after the first light, and the last two hours before sunset tend to be most productive.
During the summer months, some anglers take to the water under the cover of darkness, in order to escape the heat and catch fish in good numbers.
This strategy can be especially effective during the hottest months of the summer, which typically includes July, August, and September in most regions.
Many anglers specifically target big trout, such the freshwater brown trout, at night with the use of fly fishing tackle.
During the fall, daily temperatures gradually begin to drop. During the early fall, it is not unusual for afternoon temperatures to rise rather significantly.
However, by the later days of fall, cooler temperatures descend upon much of the country. These general fluctuations can make the fall of the year quite an interesting time to be on the water.
When warm weather still reigns supreme, the best trout fishing typically occurs during the early morning and late afternoon hours, much like what is expected during the summer months.
However, as temperatures decrease, prime trout feeding times tend to move more toward the late morning and early afternoon periods.
As a result, an angler must stay abreast of the latest weather forecast, when planning any upcoming outing.
As temperatures decrease during the fall of the year, night fishing efforts typically begin to fall flat. With an absence of extreme heat, trout are less reliant upon cooler periods of the day, when attempting to feed heavily.
For much of the country, winter brings bitter cold and frigid winds. This decrease in ambient air temperature leads to rapid cooling within the water column of most lakes and rivers.
Many lakes found in northern climates begin to freeze over, leaving the trout of a given body of water locked beneath a thick sheet of ice.
Trout fishing during the winter can be quite slow during the early morning or late afternoon hours. In fact, many avid trout anglers forgo morning outings in their entirety, instead opting to sleep in before hitting the water during the middle of the day.
During the winter, trout tend to feed most heavily between the hours of 10 A.M.-2 P.M., as this period presents the warmest possible water temperatures during any given day.
The winter also presents a wonderful opportunity for anglers who enjoy ice fishing.
Ice fishermen bore holes through the layer of ice that covers a frozen lake, then dropping a baited line through this hole in the hope of enticing a bite from the fish below.
In many cases, ice fishing takes place throughout the day, to a relatively high degree of success.
After determining the best time of the day to catch trout, an angler must also decide which specific bait or lure to use. This, also, tends to be dependent upon the time of year, as well as the conditions at hand.
Many anglers find significant success when fishing small jigs or spoons, which imitate the natural movements of baitfish within a given body of water.
Lures of this type can be especially useful during spring baitfish spawns, and hold excellent potential when attempting to catch bigger fish.
Alternatively, fly fishers typically employ the use of “flies”, which inmate small insects or nymphs. This tactic can be especially useful during the warm season when insects are out in abundance.
However, fly fishermen can also use streamers during the spring to imitate minnows as well.
If adequately prepared, and versed in trout behavior, an angler can capitalize upon seasonal temperature variations, in order to determine the best possible time to trout fish.
By making this determination, anglers are able to make more efficient use of their time, thereby achieving a greater level of success.