What is the best time of day to go trout fishing?

The best time to go trout fishing is determined by the water temperature. In hot weather, it is best to fish early in the morning or the evening. While in the winter, trout usually only start to feed after 10 am or when the water starts to warm. At times trout can be sluggish will into the afternoon which typically means the best fishing occurs in the late afternoon or even dusk.

Trout can be challenging fish to catch, knowing the best time to target them can greatly increase your chance of success. Trout are cold blooded, when the water temperate is too cold their metabolism slows down and they feed less. If the water temperature is too hot, they become stressed and again become reluctant to feed. Between these two extremes is the optimal water temperature.

While water temperature is very important. It is not the only factor that determines the best time to go trout fishing. In trout fisheries which see a lot of angling pressure, I usually like to start fishing early in the morning before anyone else is on the river. This gives me the best chance to cast to fish that have not already been covered.

Finally, the best time of day to fish is often at night. Trout are more confident under the cover of darkness, simply because there is less predators about. It might also help them sneak up on prey. Some of the biggest trout I have seen seem to be truly nocturnal.

Best time to trout fish in the winter?

  • In the mornings fish deep water, it is warmer and that is where the trout spend the night.
  • In the afternoons and evening fish the shallows.
  • The water temperate is likely to be below the optimal temperature for trout feeding.
  • If fishing a stream where the water is mixed, I suggest fishing after 1pm.

Winter fishing is tough, the trout are sluggish due to their low body temperatures. The water might never warm enough to be optimal but they still need to feed, and they are tough enough to feed even in water barely above freezing.

So when is the best time to go trout fishing in winter? I suggest avoiding the coldest part of the day, so unlike during the summer do not fish the early morning. Wait until the sun has warmed the water ever so slightly. Yes, the sun’s rays can even get through the ice.

In ponds and lakes, fishing deeper water in the early morning. That is because deeper water is warmer, and that is where the trout overnight. As the day warms, the trout rise towards the surface and move onto shallow flats or weed beds. Trout are often found feeding in water between 2-6ft deep with a temperatre around 32.5°F to 35°F).

When fishing from the shore, it is best to wait until the afternoon or even evening. That gives the trout time to move out of the depths into the shallow. I usually aim to start fishing after lunch. Even in the winter, Rainbows are slightly more active during the day than the browns.

If fishing from a boat, or even on the ice. In the early morning, targeting deep water, near a drop-off often brings the most success. As the day warms, trout leave the deeps and move onto the shallow flats in search of a feed.

Deepwater trout are usually around 20-30ft where the water is a relatively balmy 38-40f, if the lake is very deep the trout usually suspend mid-column rather than hanging out on the bottom.

Best time to trout fish in the spring?

  • Wait until the sun is on the water before starting to fish. This is usually around 10am.
  • In the early spring, trout are usually most active between 2 and 5pm. That also coincides with the warmest water temperatures.
  • There can even be a few small mayfly hatches during the early spring which can get the trout excited enough to start feeding.
  • If you want to fish early morning, fish deep or spring fed (usually a few degrees warmer than surface flows and snowmelt).
  • If there is snowmelt, the water temperature might be colder than during the winter.

Getting out of bed early morning to go trout fishing in the spring can be a challenge. The ground will be frozen and there is a bite in the air which causes exposed skin to go numb. I for one, prefer to stay inside where it is warm and cozy.

Luckily for us anglers. The early bird does not necessarily get the worm. That is because the water is still too cold for the trout. Just like us, they prefer to stay put and conserve energy.

As the sun rises higher in the sky, the water temperature starts to warm. This triggers all sorts of things into motion. In the spring, the warming conditions wake the insects and other invertebrates in the lake. Some even start to hatch, others start feeding on new spring growth. The trout can see that happening. They begin to feed, gently swallowing insects and grabbing at prey.

In the spring and summer, I always like to take a thermometer to me when fishing. I use this one I brought from Amazon. That way I know exactly what the water temperature is doing.

Best time to trout fish during the summer?

  • If the water is cold, trout will feed throughout the day, but more so at dusk and dawn.
  • If the water is cold, the afternoon can be a great time to fish large terrestrial dry flies.
  • If the water is warm, trout will become sluggish during the day. So best to fish late evening and dawn. I am often off the river by 10am.
  • For the true brown trout enthusiasts, between 3am and 5am can be amazing fishing.
  • Try to get to the river or pond before other anglers to get the first cast at fish

Summertime, the weather is hot, the air is alive with insects and life is in full bloom. Trout are in good condition and feed hard.

Again, water temperature is what dedicates the best time to fish. If the water temperature is getting too warm, trout become hard to catch and the survival rate of released fish becomes low. Over the summer, I like to get on the river as early as possible.

Two main reasons. The first is that the water is at its coldest, the trout are more likely to be in a feeding mood. Secondarily, and maybe even more important. It allows me to beat other anglers to the water. Some high-pressure waters can see a dozen pairs of boots before 10am. Any trout not caught will be spooked.

If targeting large brown trout, then radio-telemetry studies have revealed they typically have two periods of increased feeding activity. Both during the hours of darkness, they usually start feeding around midnight and finish by 1 am, and then again from 3 am to dawn. They are not very socail fish, I personally do not have the energy to target them at that time of day but I know anglers who have a lot of success.

For more information about trout fishing in the summer weather. I have written an article here.

Best time to trout fish in the fall?

  • Fall is a great time for trout fishing. Get out fishing whenever you can.
  • Dusk and dawn are prime time to target both Brown and Rainbow trout, especially if there is a hatch. Dawn is usually more productive than dusk.
  • Night fishing can also be very productive for brown trout, especially at river mouths where trout on their spawning runs start to gather.

The fall might just be my favorite time to fish. Simply because conditions are often ideal. The water temperature is within the optimal range and the trout are feeding hard to put on condition before the winter.

In my experience, there is no bad time of day to be out fishing in the autumn.

I still advise arriving early to be on the water before the crowds.

Even late in the fall, the water temperature usually remains a lot warmer than the air. So there might be frost on the ground, but the water will still be within the optimal feeding temperatures for trout.


So the best time to go trout fishing really depends on the season and the water temperature. In general, the change of light at both dusk and dawn is an excellent time to be on the water.

The exception is when water temperatures are cold, then the trout usually wait until later in the day to begin feeding.

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