Tips to catch trout this season

By Tom Keer

Feb 22, 2017

Don't shy away from trout fishing in the winter.  Layer properly, adjust your techniques and head to the streams.  Nothing quite beats landing trout in the offseason.

Photo Credit H. Earl Evans

Anyone heading out to do some trout fishing in the winter clearly loves to fish.  It's cold and windy, but what's the alternative, staying inside?  If the water is open, it's time to go.  Here are a few winter trout fishing tips that will put fish in the net.

1. Low and slow, that is the tempo.  When water temps are between 55-65 degrees a trout metabolizes one stomach full of food per day.  When the temps are higher or lower, they burn up that same stomach full of food every four days.  Move your flies slowly and on the bottom.  

2. Target hatches.  Some rivers and streams have excellent winter midge hatches.  When trout take advantage of the easy pickings you'll definitely want to be on the water.

3. Somber colors...or?  The rule of thumb is natural, muted colors in the winter.  That said, if the fish aren't responding toss 'em a brighter colored spoon, spinner, or fly.  

4. Deliver room service.  Precision casting means the trout don't have to move far to eat.  Trout hang in slower water, so pick pocket your way around big rocks, along banks, and in deeper pools and runs.

5. Watch your step.  Trout fishing in winter can be slippery.  Cleats offer additional traction on snow and ice.  A wading staff turns your two-legged body into a tri-pod.  Extra stability keeps anglers upright, vertical, and, more importantly, dry.

6.  Warm up. Winter trout fishing tips include clothing.  Base layer, mid layer, outer layer, shell.  Use silk, poly pro, or performance layers near your skin to wick moisture away from your body.  Staying dry means staying warm.  After that, it's your choice of fleece or wool layers.  Add a shell to keep the wind from penetrating.  Fingerless gloves adds warmth while providing dexterity. 

7.  De-ice your guides.  Near freezing temperatures plus air freezes up a fly rod's stripping guides.  Some companies make special pastes that keep guides from icing up.  You can also use aerosol cooking spray like Pam.  Chapstick works pretty good, too.

Of course you can catch fish in the winter, and it doesn't need to be through the ice.  Winter trout fishing from shore sure beats being indoors.  Find some open water, dress warmly, and catch 'em up.

Tom Keer
Tom Keer
Tom Keer is an award-winning writer who lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  He is a columnist for the Upland Almanac, a Contributing Writer for Covey Rise magazine, a Contributing Editor for both Fly Rod and Reel and Fly Fish America, and a blogger for the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s Take Me Fishing program.  Keer writes regularly for over a dozen outdoor magazines on topics related to fishing, hunting, boating, and other outdoor pursuits.  When they are not fishing, Keer and his family hunt upland birds over their three English setters.  His first book, a Fly Fishers Guide to the New England Coast was released in January 2011.  Visit him at or at