Trout fishing can be one of the more rewarding types of fishing for any angler. Most anglers are unaware of the best time frames for trout fishing; hence they have little to no success when it comes to trout fishing. This often leaves anglers wondering, what is the best time of day to catch trout?
While most anglers make the mistake of trout fishing in the middle of the day, the best time of day to catch trout is either in the early morning or late evening.
We will go into detail about the behavior and habits of trout and how you can use their patterns to your advantage and maximize your trout catch rate in any season.
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Best Time of Day to Catch Trout
Most anglers are often unaware of the massive influence that the time of the day and the temperature has while trout fishing.
Understanding the water conditions, weather, and choosing the right time of day will help you land more large trout no matter if you are fishing lakes, streams, or rivers.
Trout Fishing: Day vs Night
There are two times of the day that trout tend to be the most active. From just after dusk to mid-morning and from the later afternoon until sundown.
These two-time frames provide the ideal temperature for the trout to go out in shallow waters seeking food and fall prey to your lures. Additionally, these two periods work hand in hand with the reduced light vision of the trout making the bait much more visible in these time frames.
There are certain types of nocturnal fish out there like carp, catfish, and even certain types of bass. Trout are generally not active after sundown. So to catch trout, you are going to need daylight.
When to Not Go Trout Fishing?
I have found trout fishing at night (meaning after dark) to be a waste of time.
For a great catch rate with trout, there needs to be an ample amount of light for the trout to recognize the lure. So, unless you have very bright moonlight, nighttime fishing is a no-go when it comes to trout. Even then, the trout bite will be slow anytime after dark.
If you have nothing else to do, the use of worms and other types of smelly baits (like Power Bait) may help your chances at night. Generally though, the bit will be the best during daylight hours.
Best Time of Day for Trout Fishing for All Seasons
As mentioned earlier, temperature plays a massive role in any fishing; hence the patterns of the fish changes with seasons.
For trout, all seasons bring a different habitat in the water body structure, and here we break down everything you would need to know about the trout’s whereabouts throughout all seasons.
Trout Fishing in Summer
If you’re looking to go trout fishing in summer, your best bet would be early mornings and late afternoons. Trout are most active when the water is cooler, so hot summer weather can be a challenge.
On incredibly hot weather days, you may struggle even during peak hours and may have to try deep water to find the fish. The best days for trout fishing are the ones with cloudy weather and relatively cooler temperatures, so look for cooler or overcast days during the summer.
Trout Fishing in Winter
The cold winter months can change the best time of day for trout bite. Super early mornings tend to bee too cold. Same thing after the sun has gone down. For winter, whether you’re fly fishing with a fly fishing rod or ice fishing with a rod, the perfect time is from mid-morning till late afternoon. The temperature levels are a bit warmer, gearing the trout up for action.
However, night-time ice fishing for trout might be tricky. There’s no guarantee of catches based on the uncontrollable circumstances for ice fishing during the night if you don’t have a cordless drill ice auger or ice fishing augers so it will be a game of chance.
Trout Fishing in Fall
Fall is every angler’s favorite time of the year. With fish spawning in shallow water, they are aggressive and hungry for any and every bait. This season brings you the best (and biggest) catches at any time of the day.
Early morning fishing is the best route to go in fall with the ideal temperatures and ample sunlight. Midafternoon till late afternoon is a pretty solid time frame contender as well in the late fall seasons. Late evening to sundown is generally great! The bugs come out and trout activity is at its peak.
Generally, morning and late afternoon / evenings are going to be your best, but the fall season is the absolute best for trout and you’ll find luck most any time of the day.
Trout Fishing in Spring
Early spring can be an amazing season for trout fishing as the ice breaks up and fish surface for the first time in many months. Spring can be a time to catch that really huge lunker of your dreams.
Because of the colder water and cooler temperatures of spring, trout are generally active most of the day. Mornings and afternoons are still the best times, but you will find activity through larger parts of the day.
As late spring arrives, this time frame shifts to early morning and late afternoon providing the ideal water temperature and adequate light sources for you to make big trout catches.
Trout Fishing in Lakes
Lake fishing for trout is a hugely rewarding experience that brings on individualized challenges. Knowing how to read the lake, how to identify where the fish are, and understanding environmental conditions will all aid in landing lots of fish and bigger trout.
Best Time of Day to Catch Lake Trout
Lake trout are a particular species of trout that tend to live in larger, deeper lakes. These bigger lakes have cooler waters and yield up amazing opportunities for large lake trout during early spring or late fall.
As lake trout spawn, they come to the shallows and provide anglers with an easy way to attract them.
Mornings and late afternoons will undoubtedly be your best bet whilst fishing in freshwater for trout. Lake trout will hit a variety of baits from night crawlers, spinners, spoons, rattle traps, and even power bait.
I have had a ton of luck with Lake Trout using these Steel Shad Lures.
Night Fishing for Trout in Lakes
Night fishing is only successful with a great light source from the moonlight. If the conditions aren’t favorable, then your trout angling expedition might be a fail.
Trout aren’t super active at night and they tend to need more light to see their prey.
However, if you feel the moonlight is bright enough and you have your best baits ready to go, then taking the risk might be worth it. I tend to use worms, power bait, or other types of still baits on the bottom if I’m fishing at night. Give the trout something they can smell. I have very little luck with lures or other types of swimming baits after dark.
Trout angling can be challenging to figure out for any angler, especially those beginning to delve into the world of trout.
However, with practice and research, trout angling might end up being a piece of cake for you.
Be sure to keep your mornings and late afternoons reserved for trout fishing, and we can guarantee a big catch for you. Happy angling!
William K Holmes
Don’t agree. As a fly fisherman, the best time is when the hatch or spinnerfall occurs. Without doubt, the best time to catch large trout on a dry fly is when the biggest flies hatches occur. In our area, that’s at night for the Hexagenia hatch. Like, right now.
Hi Tony. Very interesting article. My fishing experience say the same. Most of my trout fishing is lakes with up to 150 feet deep. This season from April till now many lakes trout and brown were catch over. The sizes were from 18 to 28 inches and most of them I catch in the morning time.
Very important was what wind direction.
In the end I want to say happy fishing to all anglers.
Love it. Well put together. Thank you.
I have had the best of luck night fishing for trout and salmon from a boat in approx.35 ft. The action can be intense as I recall catching 35 rainbows in less than 45 mins. The best time of the year is from the second week in May to the beginning of September while the full moon of July in the peak.