How to Fish for Trout in a Lake, Reservoir or Pond
Did you know that there is a difference between fishing in a river and a lake? Many lakes have an incredibly lively and stocked trout population, offering a more than ideal opportunity for trout angling. These highly populated lakes can even rival well-stocked rivers and streams, due to the fact that their size and climate can produce larger populations, with larger trout.
Having said this, lake trout behave differently than brook trout or river trout. Trout found in lakes are used to different conditions and feeding patterns, requiring different tactics and techniques.
We’re going to take you through our top tips on how to fish for trout in a lake, reservoir, or pond, and what you need to watch out for in each fishing location.
Fishing for Trout in Open Water
When you’re fishing for trout in a lake with plenty of open water, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to locating catchable trout.
These fish are independent and constantly roaming, which means that they don’t typically travel in a school, but will naturally gather in the same area if there are ideal conditions.
Trout require oxygenated, cold water that is rich enough to hold forage in order to stay moving and to actively feed.
Identifying the Overwintered Trout
Trout that are under 4 lbs.are smaller fish, and will have been in the reservoir for less than 12 months and will be easier to catch than those who have been around for much longer. An overwintered trout weighs more than 4 lbs. and has been in the reservoir for at least a year.
These more mature fish know what to watch out for and are considered “educated.” After feeding naturally over the course of a season and successfully alluding getting caught, they understand what their natural food looks like and how it behaves.
Catching a large trout is one of the rare fishing opportunities, since they are certainly a more challenging fish to catch.
What is the Best Way to Locate Trout?
Once you do successfully manage to locate trout or trout streams, you will notice a pattern emerging, and you should have no trouble catching these active fish to your heart’s content. Let’s take a look at the best ways, and the best times to locate trout.
Best Time of Year to Fish For Trout In A Lake, Reservoir or Pond
If you’re fishing in a reservoir style lake, then you’re likely going to be experiencing inlets and outlets of rivers or streams that introduce fresh sources of cold water.
These inflows/outflows are most common in the spring and fall, which are going to be the best times when it comes to fishing for trout. This will also be true for natural lakes, where the colder months are the most active times.
During this time of year, trout are most often found in the near-shore transitions of lakes, so you’ll have the best luck casting along the shore where drop offs and ledges are accessible.
In the summer months, trout will go deeper into the water to access colder temperatures.
Unlike reservoirs and lakes, ponds are more limited in terms of temperature change and structure, so it’s advisable to target the deepest basin of a pond year-round.
Best Time to Fish For Trout In A Lake, Reservoir or Pond
No matter what time of year you’re fishing for trout, the best time to fish will always be first and last light or “golden hour.”
These are one-hour windows of opportunity when resident fish will feed most confidently, leaving the safety of the depths of their body of water in order to search for food in the shallows.
Locating Their Natural Food Source
Overwintered trout in particular will always be found where their natural food source is plenty.
In most reservoirs, their natural food source will include shrimp, fry, buzzers, and corixa, which can usually be found near structures.
Fishing around streams, drop-offs, weedbeds, anchored sailing boats and other structures can produce great results when fishing for more mature trout.
Trout don’t get preoccupied with one food source, and will be looking to eat a multitude of different types of food, which is why anglers catch on a variety of different patterns when targeting the same fish species in the same area.
Weedbeds and Deeper Water
As already mentioned, water levels greatly affect where you’ll find trout. As water levels drop over the course of a season, weedbeds die.
Those that do remain are often located at the bank angler at the beginning of the following season, when the reservoir becomes full again. It is in these areas that resident fish will be feeding.
Targeting areas that are naturally deeper and are close to the bank is most ideal, as the shallows will be devoid of food at the start of the season.
Casting A Lure for Trout
Using lures over live bait can be incredibly beneficial for catching trout. A trout lure allowsan angler to cover a bigger body of water than live bait and at different depths, being more beneficial during the colder months when trout can be found actively feeding.
Lures need water movement in order to successfully mimic a trout’s food supply, and the influx of trout moving around underwater at this time of year will help naturally cause this movement.
What is the best bait for trout fishing in lakes?
The following are a few of the most effective lures out there for catching trout:
Spinners & Spoons
Casting spinners and spoons to attract trout is effective due to the fact that you’ll quickly be able to locate active trout.
Trout are attracted to the bright and shiny colors of these types of lures, and it shouldn’t take you long to catch one after you let your lure drop.
You can also add a small piece of live bait onto these types of lures in order to further entice trout, especially if you are getting hits but not locking in on a fish.
Crankbaits & Soft Plastics
Crankbait lures are designed to mimic a wounded bait fish, while soft plastics most closely mimic the real thing in appearance and texture. During the retrieve, all you need to do is a quick snap of the line, which will twitch your lure into accurately representing a struggling minnow.
There are many techniques necessary in order to successfully catch trout with these lures, and will drive results depending on how you present them.
Final Thoughts on How To Fish For Trout In A Lake
As with any particular species of fish, there is certainly a method to the madness when catching trout. While there are rules of thumb that apply to lakes, reservoirs, and ponds, there will also be slightly different conditions in each, making the trout behave a little differently in each body of water.
Following our rules on how to find trout and what lures to use, as well as doing additional research into tried and true casting techniques will help to ensure that your fishing trip is a successful one.