Sight Fishing for Trout

By Andy Whitcomb

May 23, 2015

Opening Day of Trout has come and gone but there are still plenty of opportunities to be had on the streams.

Opening Day of Trout has come and gone but there are still plenty of opportunities to be had on the streams. You just have to know where and how to look.

Here are a few more tips:

  1. Fish both directions, upstream and downstream. Fly fishermen may prefer to start working upstream if casting floating flies, and downstream if working streamers or nymphs. Either way, keep in mind the fish are more likely to see you if you work downstream so give both angles a shot.

  2. Give it time. As you reverse your direction you’ll notice that the shadows from the tall neighboring trees have shifted, revealing new pockets and obscuring others. Fish take full advantage of shadows.

  3. Consider the tertiary lies. “Tertiary” is a fancy term for “Plan C.” Anglers repeatedly walk past fish that are holding in areas you maybe would not have tried.

  4. Stay low. Trout vision is outstanding. If you don’t sneak up to a stream edge, the trout may slide away before you ever see them. If you do happen to notice a fish, consider casting from your knees.

  5. Orientation. When scouting, anglers grow accustom to seeking shapes that are have the head pointed upstream. However, with swirling current eddies, you may miss fish oriented sideways behind a boulder. Or the fish may see you first.

This spring my son hooked a beautiful brook trout, released it, and was amazed when it disappeared under a small rock midstream. He continued to fish the area for another half hour or so and the fish never left. And it has us wondering: how many fish have we overlooked?

How many fish are you missing? Share this post with your friends so they also can be more aware on where and how to look for fish!

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer ( and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.