The five best baits for catching stock Brown trout are Worms, Corn, Powerbait, Cricket, and Minnows. These can be split into two categories. Baits that resemble natural prey, and bait that resemble fish pellets.
The longer a stock trout have been in the wild, the more their preference moves away from food that resembles pellets and moves toward food that resemble what is naturally available.
Survey Results For Best Bait For Stocked Brown Trout
When to fish different baits?
This is a difficult question to answer because trout can be fussy. Some days, trout will eat anything and everything. Other days, they can have a strong preference for only one bait or color.
I suggest bringing along a selection of two or three different baits and keep rotating between them to find the ones the trout are most interested in.
I like to bring along one natural bait such as worms, and one dough or pellet imitation bait such Powerbait or corn.
When the stock trout are recently released, I find any bait that resembles a fish pellet to work very well. Although, at times recently stocked trout will eat almost anything. I have caught trout with stomachs full of leaves, twigs, and even pebbles.
If it has been a few weeks since release, or if the water is a bit warmer. I tend to favor more natural baits such as crickets or worms.
Is bait better than lures?
Bait is not better at catching trout than lures, and both techniques can be excellent ways to catch trout. Which is best really depends on how actively you want to fish.
In general, bait fishing can be a lot more passive. You, throw out the bait, and let it float around while waiting for a hungry trout to come to it. It is a very relaxing style of fishing.
While lure or spinner fishing is more active. A lure needs to be moving through the water to trigger the predatory response in a trout.
It is possible to actively fish bait, for example, casting upstream and allowing it to float down current. It is not really possible to passively fish lures unless they are coated with a scent. Even then, they are much more effective when actively retrieved.
Another advantage of bait fishing is that it tends to be more affordable. Quality spinning lures are not cheap, and break off do happen quite frequently when fishing 4lb line. It is possible to buy several cans of corn for the price of a single Rapala.
I personally, fish lures and flies much more often than baits. I like the more active style of fishing, and the extra mobility allows me to cover more water faster.
Trout are also less likely to swallow the hook when fishing with a lure, this greatly reduces mortality when catch and release fishing.
There are times I do prefer to fish bait. The main time is when fishing with children who do not always have the attention span to actively fish a spinner. I also sometimes fish minnows when targeting larger trout if I want to win a competition. I feel it is important to know how to catch trout with all styles and techniques.
The Best Five Baits For Stocked Brown Trout
#1 Worm / Red Wiggler / Nightcrawler
A wiggly worm is an irresistible meal for almost any trout including stock trout which have been raised on a diet of pellets. They still contain enough natural instinct to recognize a worm as food and go after it.
So it should come as little surprise that a red wiggler or common garden worm is one of the best baits for catching stock brown trout. I personally find the larger Nightcrawlers are a bit too big so I prefer the smaller species.
Worms are also very easy to find. Either dig them up in the garden or purchase a container from the local bait shop.
There is no bad time to fish a worm, but they are extra effective after rain which can cause worms to crawl onto the surface and from there they are washed into the water.
Brown trout, tend to be slightly more cautious feeders than Rainbow trout. This natural characteristic is my explanation why natural baits such as worms are a bit more effective when targeting them which is why I listed worms as the best bait when targeting stock brown trout.
If you plan on releasing your trout, I advise against using worms for bait because trout enjoy the taste so much that they often end up swallowing them and getting hooked in the stomach.
I have more information on how to catch trout on worms here.
2# Corn – Excellent bait that resembles both fish eggs and pellets.
Corn is an extremely popular trout bait, and many fishermen rate it as their number 1 bait when targeting hatchery trout. With regards to Rainbow, I hesitantly agree, but I personally rate corn below worms when targeting stocked brown trout.
In either case, I highly suggest having both baits available whenever bait fishing for trout. It can be difficult to predict what the trout are interested in on any given day.
Corn is a popular trout bait for three main reasons. It is affordable, and readily available plus stock trout seem to like eating it.
I suspect stock trout eat corn because its shape somewhat resembles that of a fish pellet, or maybe they just grab it out of curiosity. Only the trout know for sure.
There is some controversy regarding using corn for bait. Some fishermen believe that it kills trout, although in one trail hatchery trout were forced fed corn for over a month, and they did not die. So the danger from corn seems to be an exaggeration.
Corn is very easy to fish (Check my guide on how to catch trout on corn). To summarize, simply thread it onto a hook and allow it drift through the water. One downside to corn is that it does come off fairly frequently, requiring it to be replaced every few casts.
Some fishermen, like to add additional scents to their corn such as garlic powder. While others like to chum with corn, they do this by throwing out handfuls of corn into the water to try and attract in any nearby fish. Chumming is a controversial practice in some areas. So check local regulations before giving it a try.
#3 Powerbait – Versatile and long lasting
Powerbait is an artificial bait that resembles gum or play-doh. It comes in a range of different colors, scents and even shapes. The most popular dough bait is Powerbait from Berkely, but some other brands do make alternatives.
(There are also many lures sold under the Powerbait brand, they are also effective but I do not consider them bait fishing. This section is referring to the dough like powerbait.)
Powerbait is a great alternative to corn, both baits are fished in a very similar way and for the most part they are interchangeable. They both seem to represent either fish eggs or pellets.
The most popular way to fish powerbait is to roll the ‘gum’ into a little ball and thread it onto the hook. It is basically possible to fish powerbait just like corn. If you know how to fish one, you can fish the other.
Powerbait does have a few advantages over corn. It stays on the hook better and a single container can last for multiple trips. It also comes in many more colors. Despite the higher purchase price, over a season it might even work out cheaper than corn.
#4 Crickets – Trout love eating real insects
Crickets or any small insect for that matter is an excellent trout bait. They appeal to any trout no matter if it is freshly stocked or a truly wild fish.
I do not advise catching your own crickets. That is usually very time consuming. Luckily, crickets are usually available from bait shops or even pet store where they are sold as pet food.
While crickets are an excellent bait they do have a few downsides. Firstly it is quite difficult to get them to stay on the hook, they also can come off during the cast. It can be a lot of work.
Secondarily, they are such a tasty bait that any chubs, suckers or bream will make a beeline for it.
#5 Minnows – may be a better option for wild trout
Brown trout love to eat Minnows, but they are a better bait for large wild Brown Trout than for the typical stock trout. Although they still work.
Even recently stocked trout have enough natural instincts to recognize a struggling, injured minnow as an easy meal.
It is often possible to purchase minnows from bait shops, failing that they can be caught with a little preparation.
To read more on catching brown trout with minnows check my article discussing how to catch trout on them.