In lakes, fish don’t burn energy fighting a current and can afford the effort to cruise around in search of food. More often, however, they stay close to a dependable food source. A nearby place to hide is also important, in case large predators threaten.

  • Feeder streams: Also called inlets, these provide food, cool water, and fresh oxygen. Fish often congregate at a stream’s mouth to feed. During the summer, they stay at the mouth and sometimes swim into the stream to stay cool and breathe easily.
  • Drop-offs: Before and after a cold front moves in–when the barometric pressure and water temperatures change quickly–fish often hug steep drop-offs.
  • Rocks: Provide shelter for crayfish, minnows, and insects that game fish love to eat. In cold weather, exposed rocks soak up sunlight and warm the water around them, attracting fish.
  • Shelves: The shallow, narrow edges of deep alpine lakes produce insects in the oxygen-rich water where trout search for food.
  • Weed beds: Aquatic plants provide food, protection from predators, and shade.
  • Submerged structures: Underwater rock piles. trees, and brush attract bait fish and larger fish looking for food.
  • Shade: Trees offer shade where warm-water fish find food and protection from the summer sun. Trees and overhanging brush also spill insects into the water and attract trout.

Telltale Signs Of Trout

  • Bulges: When a trout feeds on insects just below the surface, the water bulges upward. Sometimes you may even see the fish’s back and its dorsal (top) fin.
  • Fish snouts: Occasionally, insects on the surface are so thick that trout poke their snouts into the air and tread water as the current washes the bugs into their mouths.
  • Rings: Trout and bass create rings when they take insects off the surface. When rings appear again and again, you’ve found feeding fish. Choose a fly that matches the kind of bug they are eating.
  • Splashes: If trout are splashing as they rise to the surface, they’re probably feeding on caddis flies. The insects pop from the water into the air so quickly that the fish have to launch into high speed to catch them.