When is the Best Time to Go Trout Fishing?

Now that we've covered where to catch trout, you might be wondering when the best time is to catch trout.  You will probably notice that the crowds that occupied the best fishing holes on the opening day of trout season are long gone by the time the 4th of July rolls around (unless you are fishing at altitude or in a cold climate).  Don't be the sucker (pun intended) out there when the fish aren't biting!

We had mentioned in The Essential Gear List for Catching Trout with Spinning Gear that trout are most active when the water temperature is between 57 and 63 degrees.  That means that for most of us, trout fishing is not a year-round activity (unless you are also fishing in deep lakes).  If you live in high altitude, the fish will probably be active for much of the summer, but it will be too cold for them (and you) in the winter.  If you live near sea level in a northern state or in the southern Appalachians, fishing will be best for about eight weeks after opening day, then again in the fall.  I've also had luck during brief warm spells in the winter.  Water temperature after all, changes more slowly than the air. (You could probably even catch fish when it is very cold out - but you have to be tougher than me to pull it off!)

The key is knowing what the water temperature will be like - in most areas this means that fishing will be best between March and June (provided the season is open) and from late October to January.  However, I don't recommend fishing in the fall months, since that is often when the fish are spawning.  Fish will ferociously defend their nests - so they will be extra aggressive and more likely to strike a lure, but by catching these fish you may be hurting the fishery in the long-term, since the absence of this parent leaves the nest undefended and vulnerable.

If the season is open and you're hardy enough, winter can be a good time to catch trout.  Just bundle up, because you will get cold standing in the water regardless of the quality of your waders!

Now lets say it's April 28.  Trout season has been open for a few weeks and you have all day to fish, but you also want to spend some time on other things.  When's the best time of day to fill your creel?  We've long heard the stories of people getting up before dawn to go fishing, but during the early season, this might not be the case.

As a general rule, the time the trout are biting is the time it will be most comfortable for you to be fishing.  If the high temperature on a given day is 55 degrees, you'll probably have the worst luck around dawn and the best luck in the early afternoon when its warmest.  But if it's late May and the high is supposed to be 85, by all means get up early, because the fish will be most active when it will be cooler.

Of course, the real factor here is water temperature, but just like the air, the water temperature will be coldest in the early morning and the warmest at mid-to late afternoon.  Adjust accordingly.

So to sum up:  when is the best time to catch trout?  Between April and June or between October and January, whenever you're comfortable and it's legal.

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