How Do You Fish Trout in a Stream?

Catching trout in large rivers or tailwaters is a popular way to fish for trout. But, there are bodies of water home to big trout, including streams. In case you didn’t know, small streams can be an angler’s best friend. There’s a lot of benefits when you fish trout in a stream, including the adventure and a big catch.

Now, one thing you have to remember is that not all streams are equal. There are only specific streams that produce big trout. Those have the perfect conditions. With some research, you’ll be able to get the catch of a lifetime.

In today’s article, you’ll discover the things you have to keep in mind when fishing for trout in a stream. Also, find out helpful tips to make your fishing trip successful and worthwhile! If you want to learn more about trout fishing in streams, continue reading.

How Big Can Trout Get in Small Streams?

As mentioned earlier, streams with the perfect conditions are home to big trout. These include the book trout and some species of the brown trout. Now, if you’re wondering how they get in small streams, the answer is it varies.

Some large trout thrive in small streams. Because they connect to the bigger river downstream. Also, these trout find more food in smaller streams, especially during specific times of the year. These include the late summer season when terrestrial insects are the trouts’ food source.

Some species of brown trout migrate from lakes to rivers. These species spawn in these streams and are called “potamodromous.” Besides this, there are also sea trout that wander into other streams. If they find that the stream is habitable, these trout spawn in the stream and repopulate.

How Do You Catch Big Trout in a Small Stream?

Catching big trout in small streams is quite challenging. This is because the stream’s conditions have to be optimal. With this, you have to look for different features and do a little trial and error.

When fishing trout in streams, here are the things you have to look for:

  • Tributaries

An essential thing you have to determine is whether the stream is a tributary to a larger body of water. As mentioned earlier, some species of big trout migrate from rivers or lakes. So, when stream fishing you’re in feeds into other bodies of water, you’re on to a huge catch.

Generally, trout migrate to tributaries to spawn and feed. Then return to rivers and lakes to keep safe. If possible, they stay in streams for a long time before being brought to larger waters due to non-ideal conditions. With this, you can use a mapping tool to find streams that connect to larger rivers and lakes.

  • Forage

Of course, big trout grow because they feed continuously. They eat a range of food, from tiny insects to minnows. If you’re an angler, the challenge here is determining the kind of forage a stream can provide the fish.

Here are some things you have to remember when determining the kind of forage a stream produces.

1. Streams with high elevation don’t produce quality forage for a long time. This is because of the weather at high elevations, which limit the available forage a stream has. But don’t forget that there are still some exceptions, so don’t leave a stream without thorough checking. 

2. Make sure that the stream has a complete food chain. Insects that hatch in streams give food for crustaceans and minnows. Which become high-calorie prey for trout.

  • Terrain

The type of terrain the stream flows impacts the size and quality of trout that live. Some streams downstream from rugged canyons, while others travel paths through grassy areas. Trout are strong and generally travel fast, even in strong currents. But they are blocked by high-elevation waterfalls.

With this, using Google Maps can be helpful before going on a stream fishing trip. It’s a helpful tool that you can use to locate large streams that feed to larger bodies of water.

  • Stream Size

Now, you might be wondering, “how small is a small stream?” The answer is it depends. Larger streams house larger fish because they have more food and are more spacious. Because of this, fish thrive in these environments and grow bigger.

On the other hand, small streams experience seasonal changes depending on the water source. A mountain stream usually dries up in the late summer, while those that run in flat valleys are consistent year-round.

That said, trout in a stream size is the least reliable feature that you have to look for. One helpful thing you have to remember is to locate streams that can be classified as small rivers. These usually flow in mountain regions and are usually 8 feet wide.

What Is the Best Setup to Catch Trout in a Stream?

As said, trout fishing in streams is quite the challenge. Besides looking for a stream with the optimal conditions, it lets you prepare the right equipment. So, catching trout with live bait doesn’t require using heavy tackles. With this, your fishing tackle should be light. 

If you’re going to fish trout in a stream, here is the equipment you’ll need and some things you have to remember.

  • When fishing for trout, use a fishing rig that’s 5 to 7 feet long. These should also be light or ultra-lightweight spin casting rods. Rods that have a sensitive tip and tight end are beneficial for feeling bites and setting up hooks.
  • Use this type of rod with a small and high-quality reel, which is best used for 2 to 6-pound test lines. Some reels are less durable than others, so choose one that is durable and has a fast-retrieve feature. This way, you can use various techniques using live bait.
  • The fishing line you’re going to use is crucial in stream fishing. Use a 2-pound test line if you’re fishing in a small stream. If you’re in a bigger stream, you can use a test line that’s up to 6 pounds.

What Lures Are Best for Trout Stream Fishing

Now, if you’re ready for your fishing trip, you’re probably wondering about the best lures for fishing trout in streams. In truth, there are many lures to choose from because any bait can catch a trout. Yet, the best lure is the one you’re most confident in using and know how to use well.

Here are some of the lures suggestions you may use:

  • Panther Martin

Panther martins are little spinners that emit a lot of vibration in the water. These lures also flash, which significantly increases the interest of any trout. When stream fishing in deep streams, you can use as much as ¼ ounce of Panther Martin. Of course, you can always size down when you’re in shallow waters.

Besides this, Panther Martins’ recommended when you’re in a slow-moving stream.

  • Rooster Tail

Another effective lure for trout in a stream is Rooster Tail. a small 1/16 to a ⅛ ounce Rooster Tail is generally effective to catch big trout. These lures are in-line spinners that emit the appropriate amount of flash, which trout can’t resist.

You can use the black one with a silver blade when fishing in overcast weather. If you’re fishing on a sunny day, try a brown and gold Rooster Tail.

  • Mepps Aglia

Mepps Aglia is most effective if you’re looking to catch finicky trout. You can use at most 1/16 ounce of this in-line spinner. Mepps are effective because you can accurately cast them. They also come with an ultralight setup.

One downside to using Mepps is that they fish shallower than other lures. If you’re fishing on surface waters, the Mepps Aglia is an excellent option.

  • Trout Magnets

If spinner flashes don’t work for you, an option you can use is trout magnets. These tiny gems shine brighter than spinner flashes, so trout can’t resist them. These lures are best used even in quantities as small as 1/64 ounce.

If you’re going to fish in clear streams, try using natural colors, like brown or white. So, pink and black are dependable colors for fishing in stained waters.

What Baits Are Best for Trout Fishing in Streams

Natural baits are helpful when you’re fishing in streams. There’s also a lot of live baits you can use to bait trout. Thus, keep in mind that state regulations vary, so make sure to check them before getting bait.

Here are some can’t-miss baits for trout fishing in streams.

  • Worms

Regardless of the name, worms are the most popular live bait that you can use to charm trout. They’re famous among anglers because they’re easily obtained. They’re also easy to keep and rig.

The rule of thumb is to use worms as bottom baits. Some anglers use very little weight, which allows the lure to drift with the water current. 

  • Crickets and Grasshoppers

Another exceptional bait is small insects like crickets and grasshoppers. Unlike worms, you can use these insects as top or bottom bait when stream fishing. Yet, they’re incredibly effective when used as surface lures.

  • Aquatic Nymphs and Larvae

Generally, you can use a variety of insects as bait. What’s important is finding those who live in water and are part of the trouts’ diet. You can find these by holding a small mesh dip net or a wire screen. Here are some of the nymphs and larvae suggestions:

  • Mayfly and stonefly larvae
  • Dragonfly nymphs
  • Damselfly nymphs
  • Caddisfly larvae

Final Thoughts

As you’re fishing in a stream, such an outdoor activity lets you enjoy it, especially under the right conditions. Likewise, keep in mind that the right equipment makes things easier, so make sure that you prepare them before fishing. With this, remember to use the tips mentioned so you enjoy your trip and you get a bounty catch.

If you’re ready, it’s time to start stream fishing!