Fishing for brown and rainbow trout has its own special charm, especially in semi-natural streams where these noble fish are often found. Especially if you wade alone in a stream in wild nature and swing the spinning or fly rod, magical moments can arise.
Trout fishing follows different rules than the usual spinning or raised hide fishing on the club lake. In this article you can learn how to successfully fish for trout and what you need to keep in mind.
Fishing for trout
Very good trout streams are found mainly in Switzerland, Austria and the whole of southern Germany, but also in the Harz Mountains there are many small streams in which you can catch brown trout. Maybe there is also a small stream or ditch or even river nearby where trout feel comfortable. In addition, the water temperatures in summer must not rise significantly above 20 °C – the best is an average temperature of 18 °C in the warmest month. The oxygen demand of trout is high and in warm water less oxygen is dissolved than in cold 10mg oxygen per litre trout need to feel comfortable.
On the other hand, trout are active all year round, even in winter and during the spawning season. The oxygen requirement and the optimal temperature (also for digestive enzymes) are therefore the reason why trout are more likely to be found in the oxygen-rich small streams.
On rivers, trout are found where oxygen enters the water, e.g. below weirs or stream inlets, because trout often come from the stream into the river in autumn and winter to benefit from the richness of nutrients. In very small streams, often only brown trout and bullheads occur, as only these fish species can withstand the conditions there all year round.
In the Alps, trout can be found in almost every stream, and even the most torrential current seems to make little difference to the trout. But because of the hard struggle for survival and constant swimming, the fish here remain rather small. In the pools of a torrential mountain stream shown above, trout can still survive quite well. There
they can be found and caught.
Exploring trout waters
My recommendation is to explore the waters in peace and quiet before fishing if possible. You will certainly discover spots that you can memorize and use to catch these fish. I always keep an eye on when the trout take flight if I see them. I always keep my polar goggles on and know then for the fishing day how close I can get to the fish.
I also like to look at trout waters under stones, especially those with small cavities underneath. These are stones that lie directly on the bottom of the water and are not buried in it. Then I also know what food is in the stream. Caddis fly larvae, stonefly larvae and brook flea crabs can give information about the water quality but also about the natural food – this is especially interesting for fly fishermen. The picture shows the three forms of caddis fly larvae – one without a shell, which in itself indicates a poorer water quality, and yet it was mainly caddis fly larvae with shells that were in the water. Wild trout sometimes turn over stones themselves to get to the delicacies below.
Behaviour and food of the brown trout
How trout behave depends primarily on the water body in question. In small streams, different rules apply than in nutrient-rich rivers, and both cause the angler different difficulties. However, there are exceptions to the rules. Some small forest streams with a lot of brook flea crabs can be enormously productive. Where we are already with the natural food: trout feed mainly on insect larvae, the aforementioned freshwater crayfish and insects that have fallen into the water. You often see trout rising to the surface after insects. Trout from 25cm, the minimum size in many waters, often like to eat small fish, such as Mühlkoppen (bullhead) or minnows, but cannibalism also occurs from time to time among trout.
In a small stream
First of all to the trout in small streams: they are often rather loyal to their location and move around only a little or rarely. Where a trout stood yesterday, it will probably still be there today. In small creeks there are usually only a few good stands which are listed below. But then often many trout cavort at this one spot.
In bigger creeks and rivers
Trout in bigger creeks or rivers have a variety of possible locations and are often a little more distributed. True hot spots are also well populated with trout there, but the fish migrate more around or even hunt small fish together.
Behaviour – Shy fish
Trout are above all one thing, namely shy and jumpy fish. As soon as they see a movement on the water that they don’t know, a trout flees directly to its hiding place. Often enough they don’t flee directly there but only a few meters up or down the water, depending on where the danger seems to come from. Trout often also don’t like bait that splashes too loudly into the water, while a soft splash from the sound of an insect falling into the water immediately attracts them. Fly fishermen have a clear advantage, as their flies land gently in or on the water and need not worry about the noise of their flies.
In a recent issue of Fisch und Fang there is an article about popper fishing for trout. This may be a way to tempt intrepid trout to take a bite in larger streams, but in the small stream you will chase most of the fish away. I could already observe how trout were chased away even from an unleaded worm. The video shows how this works on a small stream, but I doubt that it works everywhere. With stickbaits I see things differently.
Trout that were once scared away but are still catchable. Either you wait 10-15 minutes until they come out of their hiding place, or you watch where their hiding place is and present the bait there. Trout are a bit more suspicious, but a perfectly placed bait can still tempt them to bite.
An important factor in trout fishing is that trout are often not really picky and will grab anything that looks edible or smells good
. Trout usually have no choice and can’t look at the lure in the current very closely. The genetically identical sea trout and sea trout are not stupid fish, as they look at the bait very closely and let go of the bait immediately if anything is noticeable. Therefore the choice of bait does not play a big role for me. With fly fishing it might be different.
In general the sense of smell and its role in the search for prey is greatly underestimated. As a young angler with little knowledge I caught a wild brown trout on a tiny trout dough. No, it was not particularly shaped and just drifted down the stream without me moving it, right in front of the hiding place of a nice 35cm trout.
Another experience that was the great role of the sense of smell for me was that an angler invited me to go night fishing for eel at one of the tributaries of Lake Constance, the first fish to bite in absolute darkness was a brown trout. Friends could also confirm again and again that the trout bite as a by-catch at night and since trout do not have special eyes to see at night, such as the zander, it can be assumed that the sense of smell plays a major role in the search for food. Just try baits with attractants – especially salted twisters are a real trout killer.
As already mentioned, it is best not to scare off trout in the first place, so careful stalking of the trout is necessary. There are many factors to consider. If the ground carries vibrations well, such as a damp or boggy ground, you should stalk very quietly. A forest or stony ground hardly carries vibrations any further. Here you do not have to be overly careful, even though a careful sneaking up is never wrong.
Some more tips:
- Watch the position of the sun and where you cast your shadow. Trout are excessively sensitive to shade and take to their heels.
- Trout have two blind spots, one is right behind them and the fish can see everything.
- I often cast in places where I can only assume that there are trout and cast over the bank vegetation. This way you can also get trout from the side.
Stalking for trout becomes even more difficult because trout are also very well camouflaged and adapt their color to their surroundings to a certain degree. A trout on light, sandy ground is very light in colour, while its conspecific is 2m down the stream above dark stones and has also taken on a very dark body colour. In the example photo from below you can already believe me that there is actually a trout in the circle. The fish is perfectly adapted to brown brook bottom. To get closer to this trout up to one meter I stayed exactly behind it in the blind spot and waded very carefully towards it.
When I come to a place where I expect trout, I have to decide whether to cast upstream or downstream. That depends mainly on where I can stand to get to the fish unseen. If I’m standing above the spot and cast downstream then I can for example just cast into the rush and let the lure drift, also small swimming plugs can be let drift past the fish and then be caught again. Fishing like this is often the easiest. More precise casts are needed when you are upriver to catch the lure with the current. One problem with this is that if the trout turns in its direction and sees you, it can quickly become shy and notice that something is wrong.
A great help when stalking trout are waders, with which you can also move through the stream, which is a little more free of obstacles, if the stream bank is overgrown.
Trout Hot – Spots
The best spots depend on whether you want to fish for trout in a meadow stream, forest stream or even a mountain stream or lake. Trout like to stay close to structures. Here I present you my best trout hot spots where you are sure to find trout if the water has brook or rainbow trout.
Trout usually do not stand alone! Fodder envy also plays a role for them and often the biggest trout grabs the bait first – at least in the waters I know.
Gumpen and deeper places in the brook
Gumpen not only offer the fish protection from above, because they are hard to see through the foamy water, but also offer protection from currents and food is washed up as well as deposited. Any depressions, even through outer curves or washed out rocks are trout stands – no trout will voluntarily stand all day in the hard current or shallow water.
Water plants and herbage plumes
Not many water plants can survive in trout streams, but such herbage plumes offer good shelter for large trout. Food such as brook flea crabs can also be found between the herb.
Flags of cabbage are a real feast for the eyes, but there is also the danger of hanging.
Roots serve the trout as a hiding place from predators and trout photographers. They can also form a kind of cave see second picture.
Picture left: Here roots and stones form a kind of cave and a great hiding place; right picture: a trout is hiding in the roots. Their fins give them away first
Washed-out banks and outer curves
Washed-out banks offer protection by a “roof over your head” and often also some current shadow. They often occur on the outside of outer curves, which then usually have even deeper water. These hot spots are caused by the strong current.
This is what a washed-out bank looks like at low water level. At higher water levels, trout can be expected here.
The trout are not only at the beginning of such pools but usually also in the middle or almost at the end. They can fish these places thoroughly.
Trout are everywhere here, not just behind the rush.
Bridges are human structures that force the stream or river into a shape where it becomes shallower under the bridge and forms a rush behind which, as described above, trout and chubs can stand.
Behind the rush of a bridge is worth a try on salmonids
Whether it is a small brook or a big one, which then flows into a stream or river. Fish are often to be expected here.
Behind the small pump and the rinsed out deep parts of a brook inlet there are often trout.
Overhanging trees are a good place for trout, especially in meadow streams where the structures are not very noticeable. Insects often fall from the tree into the water and the hungry trout are just waiting. Everything that splashes into the water is often taken quickly.
In a more monotonous meadow stream there are often less conspicuous places than in a forest stream.
The methods of trout fishing – How to catch trout
With a light spinning rod and small spinning reel you are perfectly equipped to fish for trout. The equipment is explained below. It is usually not necessary to set a hook, as trout attack spinning lures quite brutally. A 1000` reel is quite sufficient, but the brake should work perfectly.
The best spinning lures for spin fishing for trout I will quickly list here.
The best lures for spin fishing for trout
- Spinner size 0-3
- small flat running wobblers up to 5cm
- small twisters and rubber fish up to 5cm
- Baitfish on system
- Blinker and spoon up to 5cm
Natural bait fishing for trout
Just let it drift is a simple recipe for success. Either with a fine pose or of course, without float and lead and free line you can successfully pursue the trout. You can either stand downstream or upstream from the trout spot and simply let the bait drift to the trout. With small jerks or stops in the line I always make sure that the bait doesn’t settle on the bottom, otherwise I just give line and let the bait drift. In this presentation with a simple hook without float and lead I take the line between my fingers to feel exactly what is going on. It is best to remember how the lure feels in the current. A bite can feel very similar. The permanent contact of the finger on the line makes sure that even bites of small trout don’t go unnoticed and can’t swallow them so easily.
In any case an early start is called for. After the trout has grabbed the bait wait a maximum of 2-3 seconds. Large trout will then have the bait safely in their mouth, while smaller trout often still fight with the bait. The equipment on rod and reel is the same as for spin fishing for trout.
Natural bait fishing for trout is often controversial and is not permitted in all waters. The reason for this is that it is often by far the most successful method. Hardly any trout can resist a thaw worm or small worm bundle. Also grasshoppers are top natural bait for trout in summer. Caddis fly larvae are also very good trout baits. The best bait fish is the Mühlkoppe / Groppe but also minnows (beware the fish species can be protected!) are popular trout food. In any case use big hooks to prevent small trout from being caught. A moderate trout has no problems with 1`er hook. The Tiroler Hölzl is also extremely successful on trout, it ensures a secure hold in the current and you can offer the lure on a virtually free line in deep pools, even on streams with strong currents.
Correct casting when trout fishing in a stream
Precise and exact casts are important when trout fishing, especially in small streams. Because the first cast counts. If the bait lands in the bushes or in a tree during the first cast, then I can only cast with a second rod at most. Thank God, you can easily release hangers in the stream or bushes as long as the water is not too deep. This allows you to cast with a spirit of risk, which is often enough decisive for success in trout fishing.
I never throw the fish too directly but it is best to keep at least 1 or 2m distance from the fish when hitting the water. This is especially true for bigger lures.
Sideways and pendulum casts are especially suitable for precise casts at small distances. Overhead casts are often not possible at the creek, at the river or bigger meadow creek it is of course something else.
The equipment for spin fishing for trout on streams
On small streams a rather short rod is advantageous 2m or even shorter is optimal. The action of a pure trout rod should be more parabolic. Therefore under load the whole rod goes into a curve. Trout are real fighters on the rod and perform jumps and fast, hard escapes. A rod has to be able to parry this and with board hard rods the hook quickly slits out or the line breaks.
As a reel a 1000` reel is sufficient for the small and light rod, otherwise the whole thing becomes top-heavy. The brake must start without jerking, otherwise there can be problems with trout going into the brake. An overview of very recommendable trout rods I have created here. You can find an overview of the best spinning reels here.
A landing net should be included in any case. Wading nets are very practical for fly fishing and waddling. They have a short handle and can be easily attached to clothing or a belt or can be buckled on the back.
A pair of polarizing glasses gives you a clear view when fishing for trout – they at least partially cancel out the water reflection when you see the trout earlier than they see the angler.
A wicker basket helps to keep the fish fresh and cool while ensuring a good air supply. A damp kitchen towel serves the same purpose but is worse for transport.
The right line for trout fishing
The best line for trout fishing is a monofilament line, because elongation plays hardly any role at short distances and bait contact is always guaranteed. The buffering effect of the stretching monofilament line is then very useful in the fight against dropouts. The next point that speaks for monofilament is the visibility of the line, trout see very well and braided line makes them suspicious.
Line twisting by current is a big issue when trout fishing. Whether with natural bait or spin fishing, the current and its catching up cause an extreme line twist. The result is wigs. With double swivels or a small lead shot 40-60cm in front of the lure you can even counter the line twist when spin fishing. Despite all this there is no fishing line that causes more line twist and a cheap monofilament I can fish for exactly 2-3 hours before I have to cut the line because of unbreakable wigs.