Fishing is an excellent pastime that many love to partake in. Reeling in fish that are somewhat difficult to catch can be a big accomplishment to many fishermen and make a trip even more exciting. A fish that many love to catch but can be challenging to snare are brook trout. If you’re on the look for brook trout, there are a few things you’ll need to know.
When do brook trout bite most? The best time to catch brook trout depends on the exact season that you decide to go fishing. On average, you are most likely to catch them in the afternoon during the springtime and in the morning hours during warmer summer months.
Brook trout tend to be active during times when insects are hatching. They actually enjoy cloudy or unpleasant weather and can be caught practically year-round. If you live in an area where the water freezes over, it can be easiest to catch brook trout immediately after the ice melts in the spring.
Do Brook Trout Bite in the Rain?
Rain can be very important when it comes to catching brook trout and is something you need to plan around. While it is actively raining, it can be challenging to catch these trout as the rising river water can make finding actively feeding fish difficult. If you must go fishing during a rainfall, you will want to fish tight to the bank as this is the only area that brook trout will usually be biting.
The ideal time to catch brook trout during rainier seasons is immediately after a rainfall because the fish will be actively feeding. You want the water to be clear enough to see your bait, but some cloudiness can be beneficial to helping you avoid spooking the fish. This depends on how heavy the rainfall was.
- If there has been light rain recently, wait one or two days to go fishing.
- After a heavier rain, you will need to wait three to four days to go fishing.
Brook trout will move toward their food, depending on how the rain affected its location.
Often, heavy rainfall will cause fish to begin gorging themselves and trout will move from their cover to feeding positions. Bigger trout will move into shallower areas after this rain to binge on insects and other food sources. You can catch brook trout near undercut banks or other cover areas, which is where they tend to frequent after rain.
Do Brook Trout Bite on Cloudy Days?
While fishing in immense rainfall is not necessarily ideal, it is still possible to catch fish during rain. However, cloudy days that may not seem ideal to most are actually really good for brook trout fishing. Sunlight can cause you to leave a shadow on the water, which can quickly scare away these easy to spook fish.
If you are good at keeping your shadow off the water and stay mindful of this, you should be fine. If you don’t want to put forth the extra focus of staying out of the direct sunlight and casting a shadow, it’ll be easier for you to catch fish on cloudy days.
Also, going out on a cloudy day can help you fish where you want, without limiting you to finding areas with cover that can block out your shadows.
Do Brook Trout Bite at Night?
There are some fish species that will not bite at night or rarely bite at night. Brook trout are not necessarily against biting at night, but they are not easy to catch during the dark either. These fish do not have the best eyesight for nighttime feeding, which causes them to avoid biting when they cannot see clearly.
If the water is clear and the moon is out, you may find that fishing for brook trout is easier than darker nights. However, if there is little moonlight or the water is cloudier than normal, they can avoid biting entirely. You will find that brook trout tend to feed well into the evening and less through the middle of the night until sunrise.
The key exception to this is if you are fishing in a very popular area or an area that has had a recent food shortage for the fish. If there has been an exceptional amount of human activity in the area, fish may wait until this calms down to begin eating, causing them to eat through the night. Also, the hungrier the fish, the more likely they will bite at all hours.
Where to Fish for Brook Trout
Now that you know more about when to fish for brook trout, you need to learn more about where to find the fish. They are more commonly found in the spring and can be found in any river section with a rapid or strong current. During summer months, you may have to travel further downstream, where the water is cool.
The best way to find brook trout is to look at the water sources to determine where they will be. Brook trout have evolved over time to be able to live in a variety of aquatic environments, making them able to survive in rivers, streams, tributaries, small ponds, lakes, estuaries, and more. If you are familiar with other trout species, brook trout can migrate from freshwater to saltwater.
Often, brook trout are thought of as an indicator species for larger aquatic ecosystems and represent aquatic health. They serve as good indicators because they need very specific water chemistry and conditions to thrive. For example, some of the things you need to keep in mind when finding brook trout are:
- Water Temperature – Brook trout cannot tolerate water temperatures exceeding 77 degrees and tend to stick to water that is less than 68 degrees, with 53 being ideal. Compared to their brown and rainbow trout relatives, brook trout are less likely to enjoy warm water temperatures and will not tolerate it. They will even travel many miles to find the ideal temperature, especially during spawning.
- Oxygen Levels – As far as oxygen levels, brook trout need to stay in water that has a relatively high concentration of oxygen compared to other fish and other trout species. Water temperature is inversely related to oxygen concentrations, and you will want to find water with higher oxygen concentrations.
- Land Structure – Trout tend to like drop-offs, so you will want to find areas that have land features representing this. You should find areas with cliffs that have deeper water at the face. Getting an estimate of the depth of the water can help you decide where to fish for the trout.
How Deep do Brook Trout Stay?
As mentioned, brook trout tend to stay near certain land structures, but the actual depth you can catch the fish will vary. During certain months, they will be closer to the surface than during other months. Changing weather can also affect how deep the trout tend to go, for example:
- Mid-Spring – Around 10 to 20 feet deep
- Late Spring – Between 20 and 30 feet deep
- Just After an Ice – Between 10 feet and the surface
- Summer – This can vary with some trout choosing to go to deeper areas and stay dormant. Others will stay suspended in the 53-degree thermal layers and come up to warmer surface areas to feed on insects found there.
On average, as the water begins to warm, the fish tend to go deeper. This is simply because they would rather be in cooler areas. Some trout will stay in deeper water to feed on baitfish that they find suspended there, but many come to the shallow water to feed.
What Do Brook Trout Eat?
Now that you know more about where to find brook trout, you want to learn more about what they eat. This is the best way to guarantee that you are offering the best lures possible for catching these trout. Some popular food choices for brook trout are:
- Aquatic insects or nymphs that live under the rocks along the stream bottom
- Adult stage aquatic insects as they hatch
- Land insects like ants, beetles, and others that fall into the water
- Small crayfish
- Minnows and other small fish that are easily caught
Fishing for brook trout is similar to fishing for rainbow trout if you have fished for them in the past. When fishing for the trout, you can also use worms, natural bugs like grasshoppers, or mayflies. However, many angler find success with artificial flies as well.
Stay up to Date with Local Regulations in Your Area
Before you begin trout fishing, you want to stay up to date on the regulations that your specific area has when it comes to this style of fishing. This is the best way to protect yourself and guarantee you are following these regulations as well as using baits and lures that are allowed in your area. Some common regulations for trout fishing are:
- Have a valid fishing license for your state.
- Know the number of brook trout you are allowed to catch and keep.
- Learn more about trout size minimums that are required to keep the fish; these can range in length and weight.
- If you are fishing in a National or State Park, these areas can have different regulations than you state, and you need to stay knowledgeable about these.
- Some laws require artificial lures only, while others allow you to use live bait.
How to Catch Brook Trout
Now that we have covered the basics of brook trout, you need to learn more about how to catch the fish. You can mainly catch brook trout two ways, either through fly fishing or by fishing from the bank. Regardless, some basic supplies that you will need no matter which way you fish are:
- A quality fishing pole
- Thin line (four-pound is good, but six-pound is better in cloudy water)
- Small hooks either #10 or #14 size, bronze-colored hooks work well
- A net or canvas creel for helping to catch and hold fish
- Lures or live bait
- Sinkers or bobbers for deeper water fishing
- Wading boots for fly fishing
How to Fish for Brook Trout from the Bank
If you want to trout fish from the bank, there are certain precautions you must take to guarantee you have success while fishing. While you will not be in the water directly, you still need to be stealthy as to not scare away any fish with your shadow. You want to bait your small hook using either an artificial lure or the live bait of your choosing, depending on your preference and area requirements.
For best success when catching brook trout, you will want to follow these steps:
- Walk quietly up to the water from downstream, keep your shadow hidden from the fish and avoid casting your shadow on the water.
- Approach from the side of the water and find a good spot to stand and cast.
- Cast your line into the water once you have found your perfect location. Throw your line upstream to allow the bait to drift back downstream to you.
- Essentially, you can cast any direction, and the water should help your lure imitate the movement of live bait.
- Watch the line because this lower weight line will float on the top of the water. As your bait drifts back to you, you will want to look for any changes in the line. If it goes from slack to straight, you have a bite.
- Reel back in and recast if your line does not go straight before drifting back to you.
- Move the line slowly so that you do not scare any fish nearby. If you do notice a disturbance in the water, you may want to move locations slightly.
- Add split shot sinkers to your line for deeper waters.
Once you have caught a brook trout and it fits the regulations to keep, you will want to remove the hook and put the fish in your creel. If you do not intend to keep the fish, you can simply unhook it and release it back into the water. If you find that a fish is hooked deeply and you cannot remove it properly, you can cut the line to free it.
Brook trout can be challenging to locate and catch, which may require you to change positions if you are not catching fish in your current location. You may want to move upstream to look for fish or alter the depth at which you are fishing. This is a sport that can require some work to perfect.
How to Fly Fish for Brook Trout
If you want to fly fish for brook trout, it is important that you use a lightweight fly rod. Most fishermen opt for a three-weight fly rod with a floating weight forward fly line, which is ideal for catching brook trout. For smaller streams with limited casting room, shorter rods are best, but standard nine-foot rods work great too.
To successfully fly fish for brook trout, you will want to:
- Read the stream to find the best brook trout locations. You will need to locate the current seams, eddies, and other areas where brook trout can eat easily. This is especially important on days when biting is slow.
- Make sure you have proper wading boots and do your best to move slowly in the water to find your ideal fishing location.
- You want to tie on a fly that works well for brook trout. This is best if you start with a dry fly, and brook trout are not particularly picky when it comes to the type of flies that you use.
- If you notice that the fly is not working properly or you are not getting any bites, it is always best to bring a few and switch things up occasionally.
- Work to keep yourself concealed while fishing, trying to avoid making too much of a shadow on the water. Move slowly so that you do not spook off any fish.
- When casting, you want to do so with purpose and watch your line as you would with onshore fishing.
- Once you have a catch, decide if you would like to keep the fish or release it back into the water. Once again, make sure that you are up to date on the regulations in your area before keeping any fish.
How to Properly Handle Brook Trout
If you are fishing for any species of fish, you want to guarantee you are treating it with the respect that it deserves. Brook trout are fragile fish, and you should do your part to ensure any fish you do not keep survive and thrive. This means you should be knowledgeable about how to handle the fish and release them properly. Since brook trout have such sensitive, fragile skin; you will want to wet your hands before touching them. If you hold the fish with dry hands, you will rub the protective layer of slime off of their skin. This can cause the trout to get an infection which can lead to death. Some locations will require you to use only barbless hooks to help release trout more safely.