Best Time of Day to Catch Trout

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Best Time of Day to Catch Trout
Best Time of Day to Catch Trout

Trout are one of the most entertaining freshwater fish that you can catch. They also are relatively easy to catch if you know when to catch them.

Unfortunately, most anglers have no idea when to fish for trout. Many of them fish for trout in the middle of a bright, sunny day.

That is a terrible time to fish for trout. In fact, it’s the worst time for trout. So, what is the best time to fish for trout?

That varies on a lot of different factors. Generally speaking, you should fish for trout in the early morning or late afternoon. There is a lot more to trout fishing than simply fishing in the early morning or late afternoon, though.

This article will cover the different times for different situations that you may find yourself. I will even cover some good techniques for trout fishing at different times of day.

Best Time of Day for Trout Fishing

As I mentioned earlier, the best time for trout fishing is in the early morning or late evening. But you can still catch trout at any time of day. This section will cover how you should fish at each time of day.

Best Time of Day for Trout Fishing

Early Morning

In my experience, the best time of day to catch trout is in the early morning. The time immediately before sunrise to one or two hours after sunrise should result in the most trout. This is because trout have good low-light vision, so they have a hunting advantage in the dimmer early morning.

Early morning also works well because the water is still cool, and the trout will hangout at the top of the water column.

How to fish in the early morning?

Trout like to hunt surface flies in the early morning since it’s not bright. Dry flies work best at this time of day.

Late Afternoon

The late afternoon is another perfect time to go trout fishing. First, late afternoon means two or three hours before the sun sets up until sundown. Basically, it’s the time of day when the temperature starts to cool down and the sun isn’t as bright.

Trout like hunting during this time because it’s when the bugs come out. Also, trout don’t have eyelids, which means they can’t look at the surface when it’s sunny.

Fishing in the late afternoon tends to be marginally worse than in the early morning, but you will still do well at either time. Many people choose the late afternoon because they don’t like waking up at 5AM.

How to fish for trout in the late afternoon?

The late afternoon is almost the same as the early morning. Dry flies work best. Just make sure to avoid casting into the sun.

Evening Trout Fishing

After Sunset/Early Night

The time immediately after sunset into the early night will still have good trout fishing. However, it will usually be a worse time than the late afternoon or early morning. There just isn’t enough light for trout to hunt, and the water has probably cooled down.

This doesn’t mean you should completely skip fishing for trout after sunset. Just don’t expect the biting to continue as intensely after sunset.

How to fish for trout  in the early part of the night?

Again, it’s the same as the late afternoon with dry flies on the surface. I recommend reeling a little slower, though. Trout tend to be a little more sluggish as the temperature drops.

Middle of the Night

The middle of the night is usually one of the worst times to go for trout. There isn’t any light and not many insects, so the trout don’t do much hunting at night. Despite this, trout still do some hunting at night, which means you may still catch them at night.

Also, trout fishing is often great during a full moon. The moonlight brings out the insects, and it is usually enough light for the trout to hunt. Some anglers also do well fishing near dock lights at night, but that mostly depends on the amount of insects and minnows at the light.

If you do fish a dock light, then cast into the darkness and bring your line through the light. Trout often like to hunt in the area between the light and darkness.

How to Fish for Trout at Night

How to fish for trout in the middle of the night?

The middle of the night is a little different than the early part of the night. You still want to fish on the surface, obviously. But you should reel much slower than you would in the daytime. It’s also a good idea to fish near some type of light source since that will attract bugs.

Midday

Midday is considered the worst time of day for trout fishing by basically everyone. The sun is too bright for trout to look up, which means you have to put your bait underneath the trout.

If you do want to fish for trout during the day, then you have to do it properly. In my experience, fishing structure, channels, or shade is the best bet during the day time. However, the trout will still not bite as well as the early morning or late afternoon.

How to Fish for Trout During the Day

How to fish for trout in the middle of the day?

You generally do not fish on the surface in the middle of the day. You can if there isn’t much sun. Normally, you want to use a streamer or nymph on the bottom. In fact, you want the bait to be underneath the trout when the sun is out. You can still catch trout fishing closer to the top in the day, but it’s so much better to fish off the bottom during the day.

Best Time of Day for Trout – Season by Season

Trout are one of those fish that you can catch at any time of year. You can even catch trout when your lake ices over. This section will cover the best time of day for trout fishing based on the season.

Spring

Spring is often one of the better seasons for trout fishing. You do have to go at the right time, though.

During early spring, when it’s still cold, you need to wait for the water to warm up before you begin fishing. With that in mind, I recommend fishing in the late morning and early afternoon. Keep in mind, the sun will be very bright in the late morning and early afternoon, so you should place your bait under the trout in the water column.

You should change your fishing time as the days begin to get warmer. In late spring, fish for trout in the early morning and late afternoon. You should adjust the exact time based on the weather in your area.

Summer

Summer is similar to late spring. Fish for trout during the early morning and late afternoon. And yes, you can fish during the daytime in the summer, but only do it on days with lots of overcast or if you can find a shady spot.

Avoid trout fishing on hot, bright summer days. Summer is also the best time for night fishing during a full (or nearly full) moon.

Summer Fishing for Trout

Autumn

You will have the best time going for trout during the early morning in autumn. You can also fish during the early afternoon if it’s not too hot. As the season progresses, you should start fishing later in the morning and earlier in the afternoon.

I wouldn’t even bother night fishing in autumn – no one seems to catch trout at night this time of year.

Winter

First, you can still catch trout during the winter. I recommend trout fishing before noon, but not in the early morning. It’s simply too cold to fish during the early morning or late evening.

Ice Fishing

Ice fishing for trout is a completely different type of fishing. You’re still best avoiding the early morning, but you can fish at night. Ice fishing at night is usually inconsistent, though.

The biggest tip for ice fishing for trout is to try different spots. Trout don’t really like to move when it’s icy, so you may have to try a few different spots. I know, it’s annoying, but that’s just how ice fishing is sometimes.

Best Time of Day for Trout – Body of Water

The best time of day for trout does vary a little based on the body of water you choose to fish. This section will go into detail for all the main bodies of water you will encounter while trout fishing.

What Body of Water for Trout Fishing

Rivers

Rivers have cooler water because it’s moving water. However, trout still don’t like feeding during the day because it’s too bright. I recommend fishing rivers and streams during the early morning or late afternoon. Midday also works well for trout, but you should fish on the bottom.

Lakes

You can pretty much fish for trout at any time on a lake. You will have to adjust your location depending on the time of day, though. In the early morning and late evening, you should fish shallower spots closer to the surface. The water is warmer, so the trout tend to congregate in those areas.

In the daytime, I recommend bottom fishing in deeper parts of the lake. You will often find trout near holes during the day.

At night you should fish near the surface in areas with some light (moon, dock lights, etc.).

Ponds

Ponds are a lot tougher to fish than lakes and rivers because a pond’s temperature will fluctuate a lot during the day. For this reason, I recommend pond fishing in the very early morning and very late evening. Basically, you want to avoid fishing when the pond gets too hot.

In my experience, pond fishing has the best night fishing and worst daytime fishing. The night fishing is especially good on a full moon.

Best Time for Trout Fishing – Miscellaneous Information

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of factors that impact the best time of day for trout fishing. The following are some more factors that will definitely impact trout fishing.

Fly Fishing

The general concept of trout fishing remains the same for fly fishing:

Fish near the surface in low-light. Fish near the bottom in bright light.

With that in mind, I like using dry flies in the early morning, late afternoon, and night. Only use dry flies during the day on cloudy days.

On bright days, I recommend using weighted streamers and nymphs. Some trout fishermen love beadhead nymphs for this purpose because they work amazingly well. Also, use fluorocarbon line when fishing the bottom – it sinks much faster than monofilament.

Fly Fishing for Trout

Learn all about fly fishing for beginners here.

Barometric Pressure

Barometric pressure is one of the least known factors that impacts fishings. It’s also one of the most important factors.

All you really need to know is that falling pressure means great fishing. Low pressure means better fishing. Rising pressure is often hit or miss. Stable high pressure will have the worst fishing – you might want to stay home if the barometric pressure is high.

Finding the barometric pressure is easy. You can look at the weather forecast or use a barometer. Most people just look at the sky. If a storm is approaching, that means the pressure is dropping. If there isn’t a cloud in the sky, then the pressure is high and not changing.

Storms

Many people avoid trout fishing during a storm. Personally, I believe that is a mistake. Trout fishing during a storm is often great. The best time, in my opinion, is during a light rain. It’s not heavy enough to completely mess up the water, but it does stir things up. The barometric is also low, which definitely helps.

In summary, don’t pack it up after the first raindrop. The fishing tends to be pretty bad immediately after a storm, so you might be better packing it up once the storm passes.

Trolling

Trolling is the best way to fish for big trout in big lakes. You can simply cover more water, so you have better odds of stumbling on a trout. With that in mind, I recommend trolling for trout in the very early morning or late afternoon.

Morning is slightly better than the afternoon. You can troll during the day, too. However, you need to get your bait to the bottom with heavy weights, heavy bait, or a downrigger. Trolling on the surface on a cloudy day will also work.

Another solid tip is to find out where the trout are stocked in your local lake. They tend to stay in the same vicinity.

Avoiding Other People

Most fishermen don’t like fishing when other anglers are on the water. They take the good spots, increase the competition, and inexperienced ones can cause problems (crossed lines, noise, etc.).

So, what is the best time to avoid other people?

You will almost always find less people on the water on the weekdays than the weekends. The emptiest time, in my experience, is weekday mornings. Many fishermen go fishing after work on weekdays, so the evening can actually be quite busy.

If you can only fish on the weekends, then try going in the early morning. People really don’t like waking up early, which means it’s often emptier. The fishing is usually better, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I fish for trout in structure and/or shade?

Yes. Trout congregate in shady spots during the heat of the day. They will also hide behind structures that block the current.

Should I fish for trout when [weather condition]?

You can catch trout during any weather and at any time of year. However, you should have a strategy for every scenario that you may find yourself in.

Do I need to be quiet when fishing for trout?

Yes. Fish can feel the vibrations from loud noises, so you should try to stay as quiet as possible while fishing. Also, avoid splashing in the water since that has a tendency to spook fish.

Can I fish for trout with a light?

Yes. This works better in saltwater than freshwater, but you can still try it at night. Just make sure it’s legal in your area.

Can I night fish on a ¾ moon?

Yes. The fishing should be fine as long as the moon is still bright. It’s more important that there aren’t any clouds blocking the moon. You can even catch trout during a new moon, but it will be much tougher.

Do I need to wade fish for trout?

It’s not necessary, but it does make it easier to cast parallel to the shore. I only recommend it if you know how to swim and have some familiarity with the area.

Final Thoughts

That about sums it up for everything you need to know about when to catch trout. Trout are voracious eaters, so you can catch them at any time of day if you know what you’re doing. Obviously, they bite more at certain times of the day and certain seasons.

The most important information is knowing where in the water column to fish. Just remember, fish at the bottom when it’s bright. Fish on the surface when it’s not bright.

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