How To Catch Trout in Streams?

“A trout is a moment of beauty known only to those who seek it.”  -Arnold Gingrich

Nothing is more fulfilling than pulling a 20’ trout out of a 3 foot wide stream or creek. After this quick read, you’ll have a toolkit full of tips and tricks on how to catch trout in streams, small rivers, or creeks…

how to catch trout in streams
A point where two water flows join together can be a great spot to catch trout

A Fisherman’s Mentality

When catching trout in a stream or creek, you need to think like a fish. When in the wild, trout’s main goal is to eat and stay safe from predators like bears, birds, raccoons, etc. The best fishing spots are where trout can both ambush prey (usually insects and smaller fish) while staying out of sight from their predators.

How to catch more trout
Rainbow trout

Bait

Trout do not travel more than 2-3 miles of where they were born so fishing lures and bait will vary from spot to spot depending on the trout’s natural food sources. I recommend bringing a few different types bait and lure options so you can test what works. For success, bring a combination of the things below:

  • A few variations of spinning lures and/or spoons
  • Multiple variations of flies and bugs
  • Bait — live (worms, crickets) or artificial (salmon eggs, powerbait)
  • Bobbers and Sinkers
  • Leader line if you’re currently using anything over 5lb test
spinning lure for catching trout
Example of a spinner lure

Choosing A Spot

Remember, trout are looking to hide from predators and prey so when approaching a new fishing spot always be cautious because one step on a twig or your shadow could spook the fish. So when discovering your next fishing spot, here’s some things you should look for:

  • Big rocks that create deep pockets
  • The foam line
    • that’s where the density of the current is flowing
  • Bends in the stream
    • Fish tend to hang out on the deeper side of the river bend
  • Rapids that flow into deep pools
  • Debris that creates cover for fish like wood pilings
how to catch trout in the kern
Get in the water if you need to get closer to the perfect spot

Casting 

Where to cast depends where you are fishing and what setup you are using. Generally, you want to cast near the spots discussed above and either reel through where the fish are or let your bait float into that area. Regardless, here are some tips that you can use anywhere:

  • If you are using spinners, almost always cast down stream so you can use the current to your advantage
  • If fly fishing, cast upstream from the pockets you want to hit and let bait float into that pocket
  • Use about 24 to 36 inches of leader for bobber fishing (float fishing)
  • If using a bobber, cast upstream from the pockets you want to hit
  • Keep moving and trying new spots. Trout will recognize your bait after fishing the same spot for an extended period of time

Regulations

Always check the local fishing regulations. Certain areas may be catch and release only or no fishing zones all together… So always check with the department of fish and game before planning a trip.

PRO TIP: if you want to catch fish and don’t know where to go, check the fish stocking lists and you’ll find out when and where the department of fish and game are stocking hundreds of hungry fish.

Click here for California’s stocking list

Lastly, have fun and enjoy the great outdoors.

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