Trout Fishing Tips: How to Read Water

Being able to read the water and have a basic understanding of trout behavior will increase your chances of catching more trout. Below are some general guidelines and tips to follow when fishing streams and rivers.

Understanding Trout (or any other fish): There are some differences in habit between brook, brown, rainbow, and other trout, but for the most part, there are two things you want to consider when fishing for trout. They are afraid of open spaces and will thus look for cover, and they like to be in places where food is delivered to them. That doesn’t mean they won’t go out of their way to chase after a worm, but generally speaking, they will stay in places where they are hidden and in the current where food can be delivered to them.  With these tips in mind, here are some spots you want to look for when trout fishing a stream or river.

Undercut Banks: Undercut banks provide a place for trout to hide while the current delivers insects and other food to them. If you are fishing these undercut banks, let your bait go with the current right past the bank to lure the trout out.

Large Rocks or Boulders: If you can find any large rocks or boulders in the stream or river, you will likely find trout. Why? The trout will hide behind the rocks and boulders to get out of the current, but they will still be in a position where they can easily ambush any bait that flows by. If you are targeting these areas, do not just throw your bait directly behind the boulder. Instead, let it flow naturally with the current, right past where the trout will be hiding. Most trout will not be directly behind the rock, but several feet behind it, where the water is less turbulent. If the water is deep, you might need to add some weight to get your bait down into the pool.

Deep Pools: Deep pools will attract trout for obvious reasons. Again, you might need to add some weight to get your bait down there, but it is usually worth it. Cast upstream and let your bait naturally drift over or through the pool.

Fallen Trees or Logs: Trees or logs that have fallen in the water can provide excellent cover for trout and can sometimes create a bit of a whirlpool in which bait is temporarily held. Therefore, trout will stake out under or near the log and wait for bait to get trapped.

Riffles or Small Waterfalls: If you can find riffles or small drops in the river or stream, these are generally great places to fish for trout. They carry more oxygen and, like the types of structure listed above, they offer both cover and food for trout. Cast your bait upstream and let it drift through the riffle or fall.

Other Structure: Other structure, like fallen bridges and small islands will also hold trout nearby. Fish these structures the same way you would those above.

Remember, trout do not want to be out in the open, and they want to be in places where food is delivered to them. Therefore, if you are able to locate structure and deep pools, you will increase your chances of catching more trout. Presentation is the key. Never just throw your bait to the spot where you suspect the trout are. Instead, cast up or cross-stream and let the current take the bait to the fish. This will make it appear more natural.

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