How to catch trout when they are not feeding?

Trout are often thought of as active, hard fighting fish. We often see them raising to the surface to gently swallow a hatching mayfly..

But in fact, trout spend much of their day resting close to the bottom, they also often stick around submerged structures, such as logs and rocks.

This isn’t because they’re lazy; it’s because trout need to conserve energy so they only feed during the most optimal times. This is usually when food is most available but can also be influence by water temperature and even time of day.

It should go without saying, In order to catch trout, we must first know where to find them, and it just so happens trout usually prefer to feed close to where they rest.

Where do trout rest?

In general, trout tend to congregate in deep pools, beneath submerged logs, barrowed within aquatic weed and in the cracks and crevices of undercut cliffs. In these areas, resting trout will stay out of the main force of the current.

While in general resting trout prefer to seek out water deeper than a couple of feet, this is not always the case, some trout, rest in water so shallow that their fins are nearly out of the water. Such trout are very easy to spook by anglers who fish too quickly upstream.

In still water, there is one additional resting place that I feel is worth highlighting. Trout often congregate and that is within weed beds or even between the stalks of reeds. At times trout form networks of tunnels through the reeds which they can use to escape from predators or to pounce on unsuspecting prey.

Finally, some trout simply swim to the extreme depths to rest. For Lake trout that can be several hundred feet down, some have even been found down to 1300ft. They do not typically feed down there, just resting up safe from predators.

When are trout most likely to be resting?

This question does differ based on the species of trout. Rainbow trout tend to be more active during the day, especially in the early morning and dusk.

While Brown trout are nocturnal hunters, in some heavily pressured wild populations of brown trout they do the majority of their feeding between midnight and 6 am and are less active during the afternoon.

During the winter, trout are also more sluggish during the coldest part of the day. This is typically in the early morning.

For more information on the best time of day to catch trout click here

How to catch resting trout which are not feeding?

There is a saying that goes like this “if a trout is feeding it can be caught”. Well, how about a resting or sulking trout? Can they be caught? Yes, but chances are it requires a different approach.

The secret to catching resting trout is to get them to strike out of aggression. We have to piss them off to get them to snap. This is usually done by invading their personal space with an annoying, and irritating lure. Imagine if someone kept dangling something in front of your face, eventually, you will swat it away, trout are no different.

Now, this still requires quite a bit of skill, and not all trout will strike out of aggression. Use a lure that is too big, or threatening and the trout might choose flight over fight and seek the nearest piece of cover.

So what lures do I recommend?

Well, if fly fishing, I like to go with a large streamer with plenty of movement. My go-to fly is a large black woolly bugger with plenty of weight. I try to get it as close as possible without actually hitting the fish.

Weighted flies work best because resting trout are typically close to the bottom and they rarely move up to grab something swimming above their head.

How about when spinning?

In general, I feel spin fishermen are better equipped at annoying trout than fly fishermen. There are simply so many spinning lures with gimmicky features such as rotating blades, internal rattles, and blinding flashes.

So what is my pick? Well, that really depends on just how deep the pool is. If the trout are very deep underwater, I generally go for a spoon because they get down quickly, and with the right technique, it is possible to bounce across the bottom.

But trout holding in shallower water often responds more aggressively to the annoying vibrations of an inline spinner.

How to catch trout that are beneath overhangs?

I will admit, trout which are beneath overhangs are extremely difficult to catch. It requires a lot of skill, luck and a lot of conditions to be just right to pull it off. Trout are very safe in such crevices.

I target such areas with two main techniques. If fishing from the opposite side of the river I try to flick a spoon across and hard against the bank. I then let it sink directly down where I try to bounce and jerk it around a bit.

A much better tactic is to cross over and gently lower the spoon directly down in front of the overhang. Then jig the spoon up and down slowly, if the trout is in the mood it might just strike.

If the river current is flowing towards the overhang, it is sometimes possible to use the current to carry a suspending Rapala or jerkbait down and towards the overhang. When you suspect the jerkbait is opposite the opening, pause and let is suspend in the current. Hopefully, it will be close enough to tempt a reaction

Why do some trout lay in the extreme shallows?

This is one question I wish I had an exact answer to. If you know the answer, or can share some knowledge feel free to comment below.

Based on prior conversations, In most cases I can only assume that such trout are generally sickly and on their way out. They are not thinking straight. In the rare occasions, I have been able to catch such trout they are nearly always in poor conditions. Just head, scales, and bones.

But then, why would sick trout move to the shallows. Well, there is very little current there, they can rest without using energy. The shallows might also provide them some protection against larger more dominant fish, but I have seen large trout in the shallows which are unlikely to be challenged in their stream.

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