Trout Fishing Tips: How to Catch, Clean, & Cook!


What comes to mind when you hear the words trout fishing?

For most anglers and outdoorsmen it’s flowing streams with clear cool water and a peaceful quiet atmosphere.

This pretty much sums up trout fishing.

Lady holding trout in river - Trout fishing tips
Check out this beautiful trout!

It can be incredibly relaxing if not therapeutic for most people.

Trout fishing is not rocket science. However, we are going to share some tips that will help make your trout fishing trip much more enjoyable and productive.

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What Are Trout?

Trout is a freshwater fish of the salmon family, found in both Eurasia and North America and highly valued as food and game.

Depending on the environment trout live in, they can have drastically different in coloration and patterns.

The reason for the color variation is for camouflage. The adapt to blend in with their surroundings to protect them from predatory fish.

Trout in, or newly returned from the ocean, can look very silvery. While the same fish living in a small stream or in an alpine lake could have pronounced markings and more vivid coloration.

Common Name Trout, ‎Rainbow trout, ‎Lake trout, ‎Brown trout, and ‎Brook trout
Scientific Name (Genus and Species) Salvelinus
Family Salmonidae
Identifying Characteristics Spots on side, with an obvious broad red to pink lateral stripe in inland populations. Tail, dorsal and other fins: Slightly forked to square tail. Single dorsal fin with no spines and 10-12 principal rays. Pelvic fins abdominal with axillary process. Adipose fin present. Anal fin with 8-12 principal rays.
Habitat Lakes streams and rivers. In cooler flowing waters 50-60 degrees fahrenheit.
Depth Range As deep as 50 feet and as shallow as 5 feet.
Fishing Information Trout may feed on shrimp, mealworms, bloodworms, insects, small animal parts, and eel. For this reason these make very good trout baits.
Size Rainbow trout: 27 lbs

Brook trout: 9.7 lbs

Lake trout: 40 lbs

Cutthroat trout: 23 lbs
Largest Recorded 42-pound, 1-ounce brown trout caught off New Zealand in 2013.
Mercury Risk Trout is relatively low in mercury count.
Endangered Status Bull trout, cutthroat trout, and anadromous forms of rainbow trout—steelhead are considered threatened or endangered,

When trout are ready to mate, they take on an even more intense coloration. They can look like an entirely different fish.

Trout have fins entirely without spines, and all of them have a small adipose fin along the back, near the tail. The pelvic fins sit well back on the body, on each side of the anus.

Many trout in a lake
Trout like moving water.

The swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, allowing for gulping or rapid expulsion of air, a condition known as physostome. Unlike many other physostome fish, trout do not use their bladder as an auxiliary device for oxygen uptake. They rely solely on their gills for oxygen.

Lake trout are found in many of the larger lakes in North America. They live much longer than rainbow trout, which have an average maximum lifespan of 7 years.

Lake trout can live for many decades and can grow to more than sixty-six pounds.

Trout generally feed on other fish and soft bodied aquatic invertebrates.

These also include

  • flies
  • mayflies
  • caddisflies
  • stoneflies
  • mollusks
  • dragonflies.

This makes trout a fly fisherman’s dream.

Adult trout will eat smaller fish up to 1/3 their length. Trout may feed on shrimp, mealworms, bloodworms, insects, small animal parts, and eel. For this reason, these make very good trout baits.

Where Are Trout Found?

Trout can be found in almost all the larger lakes and rivers. Smaller streams and tributaries are also home to several species of trout.

Trout are more likely to be found, and more active in these bodies of water when temperatures stay around 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since trout feed on small bugs and other larvae, it is not rare to find them close to banks and in very shallow water.

Which Trout Lures to Use?

Trout In-Line Spinners

These lures do not look like much but they can get the job done. Trout have very good eyesight and would not strike this lure on sight alone. But the flash and vibration the spinner makes draw them in out of curiosity.

When reeling the in-line, make sure not to reel too fast. You can actually reel by a trout faster than they can come in for a strike.

Spinner options include standard undressed trebles and single hooks. Also various types of hair and reflective hackle.

Releasing trout by hand
Flies are always a great way to catch trout in rivers and streams.

Trout Stickbaits

These minnow looking lures will draw the attention of just about any trout.

The stick bait can be finessed in many different ways to suit the conditions. They can be reeled fast or slowed down easily.

Stickbaits come as one piece or jointed, to produce the most lifelike appearance.3-5 inch stick baits are the recommended size for trout.

Trout Rebel Crickhopper

A steady, medium retrieve is often best in both streams and tailwaters. The crickhopper is very effective when fished slow.

This bait has wide wobble and cricket/grasshopper profile for much of the appeal.

Trout Jig and Soft Bait

A leaded hook with an artificial soft bait is a sure-fire trout lure. This is often one of the most overlooked yet most productive lures in trout fishing.

When trout move offshore in the heat of summer the leaded jig can easily get down to the depths the trout are at.

Trout Spoons

The spoon is without a doubt the go-to lure for trout. Spoons produce wobble and flash that tempts trout when cast, trolled and vertically jigged.

Spoons come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right spoon for the moment often starts with depth control and fall rate considerations.

Light and narrow designs that are thin and light for their length work well for casting and trolling in shallow water. Also when you are vertical jigging and trout prefer a slow, fluttery fall.

Trout Dough Bait

Last but not least is the dough bait. Also known as Powerbait, this bait has been known to attract fish that were otherwise deemed uncatchable. It is simple to use and produces great results.

A little ball of dough bait applied to a hook or a lure can make a big difference in the effectiveness of the lure.

Tailored Tackle Trout Fishing Kit 98 pcs. Gear Set Lures Spinners Jerkbait Crankbait Worms Jigs Hooks Sinkers Float
  • TROUT FISHING MADE EASY - Tailored Tackle Trout...
  • BEST TROUT LURES- Trout Jerkbait, Crankbaits,...
  • TACKLE FOR TROUT RIGS: Baitholder Hooks, Treble...

Tailored Tackle offers all the lures you need to get you going on your next big trout fishing adventure.

Trout Fishing Gear

When thinking about trout fishing, fly gear immediately comes to most anglers mind.

The truth is trout can be caught on any standard reel and rod.

If you are not experienced in fly fishing or it is just not your style, you can still have a successful trout fishing trip.

The recommended size test line for trout is:

  • Weight: 4/5/6
  • Taper: WF or DT.

This is common for native trout found in lakes and streams.

The best hook size for trout fishing is a 10-12. Remember, the rule of smaller is better does apply. If you are in an area with smaller trout they will not be able to strike larger hooks.

Many experienced trout fishermen say to use red hooks for trout. Make sure your hooks are sharp.

Trout have very sensitive eyes and mouths. If they suspect something is afoot with the bait, they will spit it out before you get a hook set.

A good rule of thumb with hook size. Make sure you hook size is a close match with the size of bait you are using.

When using a spinning or conventional reel for trout, a few things to keep in mind are:

  • Line capacity, at least 100 yards – 4-8 pound test monofilament.
  • Auto-reverse.
  • Metal or carbon fiber parts for corrosion resistance.
  • Smooth drag.
  • When choosing a rod, 5 ½ to 7 ½ feet work well. Make sure the rod you are using has good sensitivity. An ultra-light model works great.

Best Trout Fishing Reel and Rod Combo

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel and Rod Combo

KastKing Centron Spinning Reel – Fishing Rod Combos, Toray IM6 Graphite 2Pc Blanks, Stainless Steel Guides, Contoured EVA Handles & Fighting Butt
  • Lightweight and Sensitive Toray IM6 Graphite...
  • Stainless Steel Guides w/O-Rings - Strong and...
  • Contoured EVA Handles and Fighting Butt - We...

The KastKing Centron Spinning Reel and rod combo is a great choice for combination fishing gear.

When fly fishing for trout, the possibilities are endless. Trout will go after almost all variety of fly lures.

For average size trout, a 4-6 weight fly rod works well. A good fly reel for trout with a 4-6 weight rod would be a 4/5/6 drag; with disc drag.

Best Starter Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

M MAXIMUMCATCH Extreme Fly Fishing Combo Kit

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Extreme Fly Fishing Combo Kit 8 Weight Fly Rod and Reel Outfit
  • Maxcatch Extreme Fly Fishing Rod Complete Package....
  • One Extreme blue 9', 8wt, 4pc fly rod (Made of IM6...
  • One "ECO" 7/8wt Reel (Large Arbor spool design,...

Trout Fishing Techniques

Trout fishing is rated as the 4th most popular fishing in North America, behind the bass, panfish, and catfish.

Rainbow trout and brown trout are often found in rivers and streams. Lake trout and steelhead are more likely to be found in the deep water of many lakes.

Trout need more oxygen-rich water than average fish. For this reason, trout are more likely to be found in flowing areas of water and deep pools that have been created by moving water.

Hand holding a trout
Trout are awesome to catch!

This is why it is important to cast upstream. This will make your bait look more natural to the trout. Trout will also hide behind cover and lay in wait for prey to pass by.

This method of hunting keeps them out of the strong current and conserves energy. Although the current is not as strong behind boulders and cover, this keeps them in oxygen-rich water.

When trout fishing in lakes, as the water warms up in spring and summer, the trout will move out to deeper water in search of cooler temperatures

Lake trout tend to stay together in lakes where they are present. That means that if an angler catches one in an area, odds are good that there are more in that same areas.

Unlike bass fishing where an angler may change location after catching a fish, this is usually not necessary with trout.

How to Release Fish Without Harm

Taking care of a trout or any fish you plan to release after the catch is extremely important.

Since trout require a lot of oxygen they need to be released back into the water as quickly as possible.

All fish, including trout, have a special coat of slime on them. This slime protects them from disease and bacteria that may be in the water. For that reason, it is important to handle fish as little as possible. This slime coat can be removed by handling the fish.

If a fish is struggling after you release it, it may have used up most of its oxygen content. This is when you will need to give the fish a helping hand.

This is done by gently holding the fish by the stomach, helping it to stay upright. Hold the fish completely under water and gently move it back and forth slightly. When it is ready,

The most important technique on how to catch trout is to just keep it simple and enjoy the time on the water. If you happen to bring home dinner out of the adventure, that’s just an added bonus.

How to Clean Trout


After you have caught your limit of trout, it is time to clean and prepare them to cook. The following is the simplest method for cleaning and deboning trout.

  • Remove the head of the trout. Filleting should be done when you wish to serve only the finest cut of the fish, rather than cooking it whole.
  • Cut the first fillet along the top of the backbone.
  • Flip the trout over and cut the second fillet.
  • Remove the pin bones.
  • Get rid of the skin.

Cooking Trout

Plate with two trout
Trout are one of my favorite fish to eat. They have tender white meat that is perfect grilled.

Trout is loaded with nutrients. Such as protein and vitamin D. Fish is also the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain.

Below is a recipe we at CAST & SPEAR think you will love. It is easy to prepare and very easy to enjoy!

Garlic Butter Trout: Total Prep Time 30 Min.

  • 1 pound steelhead trout fillet, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 a lemon, juice squeezed
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon parsley, minced (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and place the trout filet in the center. Fold up all 4 sides of the foil. Season trout with salt and pepper and then squeeze juice from half a lemon over the fish until covered.

Melt butter in microwave safe bowl, stir in fresh minced garlic and drizzle over the trout until evenly coated. Top with fresh minced parsley.

Fold the sides of the foil over the trout, covering completely, and seal into a closed packet. Place directly on oven rack and bake until cooked through about 15-20 minutes.

Optional step: Open the foil exposing the top of the trout and broil for the last 4-5 minutes, for a browned top.

Trout Fishing Final Thoughts

Trout fishing is one of the more exciting and challenging forms of fishing. It has been common for many years for people to take a “trout fishing” trip.

This could be a company retreat, a couple of fishing buddies, or a complete family outing.

Whatever the reason for the fishing trip, it is sure to be one you will not forget.

Don’t forget to let us know if this guide helped you catch a trout. We love seeing your fishing pictures, so be sure to send us more 🙂



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