How to Find Trout in Streams and Small Rivers

Being able to find trout is key to having a successful day of fishing. Finding trout is not always easy, but with a basic understanding of trout behavior, you can increase your chances of finding them on any stream.

Thinking Like a Trout

Trout in a stream tend to hold in places where they can hide from predators, expend minimum energy, and have access to food. With this in mind, the following places are where trout tend to hold when in a stream or small river.

Pools-Pools are areas of a stream that are generally wider and deeper than other parts. Pools provide everything a trout needs: cover, protection, and access to food. Sometimes, when water temperatures rise, the trout will move and stay deeper in the pools, but often times they will move to the head or tail of the pool to feed on insects or other food sources the current delivers. If you are fishing a pool, cast your bait, lure, or fly above the pool and let the current deliver it to the trout. You may have to add some weight to your line if the trout are holding deeper in the pool.

Riffles-Riffles are areas in a stream where rocks, timber, or some other type of obstruction causes somewhat of a disruption in the current. The water in a riffle is more oxygenated, so trout (especially in the summer) tend to hold there. Riffles are also prime feeding spots, as they carry an abundance of food with the current.

Undercut Banks-Undercut banks are formed when water carves out the lower part of a bank while leaving the surface intact. Undercut banks provide cover while allowing trout to feed on any insects and other foods sources that flow by. Undercut banks can be difficult to fish, but the rewards are worth it. Try standing up or across stream and cast above where you suspect the undercut bank is. Let the current take your bait along the bank. You may have to leave some slack in your line to allow your bait to flow as close to the bank as possible. This is where fly fishing can be productive.

Back Eddy-A back eddy looks somewhat like a little whirlpool; it’s a part of the stream where some type of obstruction has caused the current to move in the opposite direction. A back eddy will collect a lot of insects and bait fish, therefore attracting plenty of trout.

Rocks/Boulders-Rocks and boulders provide a nice break in the current, thereby making them great places to find trout. When the current hits a rock or boulder, some of the water is momentarily pushed back before being pushed forward by the current. This area-directly in front of the rock-is a great place for trout to hold. To fish this area, simply stand a good distance behind the rock, cast, and let the current take your bait to the right or left of the rock. The area behind a rock or boulder is another ideal place for trout to hold, as there is a more noticeable break in the current.

Overhanging Trees-Overhanging trees drop insects into the water while providing cover for trout. These areas are often difficult to fish, but well worth it. Just make sure you cast up stream and allow the current to take your bait to where you suspect the trout are holding.

These are often the most ideal places for trout to hold in a river or stream. The important thing is to think like a trout and seek out places where trout are likely to have cover and easy access to food.