There’s something about trout fishing that turns the recreational angler into a genuine hunter. In a variety of environments, the sought-after trout makes for a fine fishing experience.
We’re not all skilled with fly gear, and most of us don’t have a boat.
That means the lion’s share of anglers are forced to hunt trout from land.
Don’t be disheartened. With the right gear and knowledge, we’ll be catching trout just like the most experienced fly anglers.
In the following article on catching trout from shore, we’ll take a close look at trout baits, rigs, tactics, and geographical information.
We’ll look at fishing times, feeding patterns, and general trout behavior so you can think like a trout.
You’ll be sufficiently equipped to turn every trout session into the best session ever.
Let’s start with the most significant contributor to trout fishing success – location research.
Location Research for Land-Based Trout Fishing
Is research essential? The fact is, it really isn’t. As long as you know the body of water you intend to fish holds trout, and they’re available from land, then you’re good to go.
However, research can be the difference between casting hours for nothing and casting the trout of a lifetime.
Each location will have its own local habits and peculiarities. That’s why local knowledge is important. That’s why research is important.
Generally speaking, trout species will display the same core behaviors wherever they are. Furthermore, no matter your location, strong land-based trout fishing basics apply.
Employ good baits and lures, and the correct gear, and your prospects are good.
But those who get the best fish are fully versed in the specific behaviors of the local trout along with the environmental influence.
For example, In one location, spinners work brilliantly all through the summer, but are hit and miss in the cooler months.
In another location bobbers are brilliant in the shallows, but only when the wind is blowing directly from the west.
Try another location and the locals will tell you that trout are plentiful if you use fresh worms.
But you need big minnows and patience to get the trophy browns, with the best results just on dusk – set your baits just on sunset.
Research can be done by searching fishing forums and websites about the area you want to fish. Speak to any local friends you have.
It’s a good idea to get friendly with the local tackle shop. Spend some cash there. The more you spend, the more secrets might be revealed.
Check the prevailing weather conditions over time.
If there’s a local fishing club, check their website and go through records and recent catches, especially dates, locations, and the rigs.
What Locations Are Best For Catching Trout From Shore?
It’s important to keep in mind that trout will move throughout the day, and movements may change depending on the season. (see local knowledge).
Look for locations with baitfish activity. This is always a good indicator. Short of that, it comes down to good fishing sense.
Cast at structures during dusk and dawn. Structures include places where trout can wait in ambush.
Rocks, reefs, weed flats, and made structures such as old jetties, pylons, weirs, and other such structures.
Shallow waters can be just as productive as deeper waters. This will often depend on the season and time of day.
Be pragmatic and think critically about the fish-holding structure. However, experimenting and testing a location on gut feel are worthy methods of catching trout.
Spring vs. Summer For Fishing Trout from Shore
Water temperature, oxygen levels, and movements of their favorite forage affect trout behavior over the course of every year.
During the spring, trout emerge from deeper water and feed on insect larvae that are present in the water between 10 and 15 feet.
This is a great time to cast for trout from the shore.
As the summer months progress, trout begin to retreat to cooler waters at depth, since they prefer the cooler temperatures found there.
Gear Setup for Trout Fishing from Shore
There are many gear options to choose from, but they should be determined by your target size, bait or lure, technique, and casting requirements.
It’s also important to know that personal preference comes into play here. Don’t let anybody tell you spin gear or casting gear is essential – either is great.
Rods can vary from 6’ to 8 ‘ depending on the distance you wish to cast.
I like a 2500 spinning reel, loaded with 4 to 8-pound mono. I’ll strap it to a light rod to 7’. My exception to this is when I’m targeting something bigger.
I’ll stay at 7’ but use a medium light, 3000 reel, and 12-pound mono with thin diameter.
I will often switch to a 6’ flick stick with a 1000 spin reel, should bank conditions permit.
I love this setup for casting a variety of lures from hard body to soft plastic.
Hook sizes are pretty small, but there’s a wide range of preferences depending on the bait, target size, and technique.
You’ll see sizes from 6 to 18, but if you’re looking to hedge your bets, many trout anglers find size 10 a great option.
Consider upping the hook size if you’re chasing trophy fish with large baits. I like to set a rod with a large hook and minnow whenever I can.
It delivers trophy potential, and it’s usually left alone by smaller fish.
The 5 Best Trout Rigs From Shore
There are lots of standard rigs you could use with variations on the standard. Here are 5 best trout rigs I like to use.
1. Simple Lure Rig
Attach a lure to a snap swivel, tied directly to the mainline. It’s such an effective rig and brilliant because it’s so easy.
You can lose the snap swivel if you like, but I like it for quick lure changes and mitigating line twist.
2. Slip Sinker Rig
A slip sinker rig is probably the most common rig you’ll see. It’s easy to tie and everybody is familiar with it.
It’s ideal when casting baits at structures such as rocks or logs, and other such places where snags are on the cards.
This rig allows the bait to move more freely while keeping the weight near the bottom and is perfect for a variety of baits.
3. Fixed Bobber Rig
A fixed bobber rig is excellent for trout fishing in ponds, lakes, or slow-moving streams. A fixed bobber is all about suspending your bait to a specific depth.
This can be done to avoid baits getting lost in vegetation, snags, and other such structures and debris.
But it can also be to hold the bait at the depth you suspect the fish are feeding.
It’s especially effective when trout are swimming near the surface a few feet below the surface.
I like it for fishing the shallows where the bottom is particularly snaggy. You may need to adjust the depth before you find the strike zone.
For many anglers, fixed bobber fishing is a great mix of relaxation – easy fishing, and great excitement as the bobber alerts you to an interested trout.
4. Slip Bobber Rig
A slip bobber rig is ideal for trout fishing when you want to target fish at varying depths, especially in deeper waters, rivers, or lakes with fluctuating depths.
It allows you to easily adjust the bobber’s position on the line to present your bait or lure at the desired depth.
This rig is particularly effective when trout are suspended at different levels in the water column, allowing you to adapt to their preferences and maximize your chances.
A slip bobber is great for more experienced trout anglers looking to work faster running streams and rivers.
It can be a very effective rig, but will involve a lot of upstream casting, and keeping your eye on the bobber reaching its maximum distance downstream.
Getting your weights right to ensure the bobber is sitting perfectly can be tricky and takes a little experience.
If you’re prepared to experiment, the results can be fantastic.
5. Simple Split Shot Rig
One of my favorite rigs is tying an appropriately sized trout hook directly to the mainline.
I’ll weight it with the smallest of split shot placed directly above the eye of the hook.
Firstly, it’s the easiest rig there is. Secondly, it can be incredibly effective and is ideal for worms, PowerBait, and live baits of all sizes.
This is a rig I tend to work – seeking the fish, enticing the bite with a little movement. It’s great for live baits as they tend to stay alive for longer.
When fished under overhanging trees, baits will often be taken as they mistake it for dinner falling from a tree above.
6 Best Trout Lures to Use from Shore
There are many lures to choose from when trout fishing. And that’s without flies.
Lures require local knowledge and experimentation. You should also note that a lure that worked one day is completely off the menu the next.
You will also be guided by your gear, target, conditions, trout species, location, and the time of the year.
This is why I insist on doing research and getting some local gossip on proven lures for a specific location.
Having said all of that, here are some lure types that are well-known for taking good trout in a variety of locations throughout the year.
Spinners are probably the most popular trout fishing lures for land-based anglers. They come in various sizes and colors, imitating small fish or insects.
The spinning blade creates flash and vibration, attracting hungry trout.
Cast and retrieve the spinner at varying speeds to find the presentation that triggers strikes.
Mepps, Rooster Tails, and Panther Martins are popular spinner brands.
Spoons mimic injured baitfish and have a fluttering action in the water. They are excellent for covering a lot of water quickly.
I like spoons when I want to cast a long way from the bank. Cast spoons and let them sink before retrieving with a steady retrieve or a twitch-pause retrieve.
Silver and gold are classic spoon colors but experiment with other colors to match the trout’s preferences.
Soft Plastic Grubs and Worms
Soft plastic baits like grubs and worms are versatile and can be rigged on a Jighead or a Carolina rig.
I’m not a fan of rigging lures on Carolina rigs. However, Jig heads are far superior in nearly all situations.
They work well in both still and moving water. Use natural colors and mimic the local forage.
Berkley PowerBait and Gulp! products are known for their effectiveness with trout, but there’s no need to throw money away on the big brands.
Crankbaits imitate small fish or insects and are designed to dive to different depths.
They are great for covering a variety of depths, making them effective in various trout habitats.
Choose a crankbait that matches the depth of water you’re fishing and experiment with different retrieves to trigger strikes.
Rapala and Rebel are renowned crankbait brands. You’ll find cranks can be a little expensive.
I will often select a crank without looking at the price first. More often than not, the crank I like costs a bomb.
Have you had a similar experience?
Fly Fishing Lures
While we’re not discussing fly fishing, it’s still critical to mention the most famous of trout baits which can be cast on standard gear if you’re clever and have the right line, rod, and conditions.
Using streamers, nymphs, and dry flies can get you great results. Match the hatch by using flies that mimic the local insects or baitfish.
Pay attention to the water’s surface activity to determine whether trout are feeding on the surface or below.
This is a great option for spot anglers hunting the fish they can see. Popular fly patterns include Woolly Buggers, Adams, and Elk Hair Caddis.
Topwater lures can be incredibly exciting when trout are feeding aggressively near the surface.
These lures create surface disturbances and can trigger explosive strikes. Popper-style lures and walk-the-dog lures like Zara Spooks are excellent choices.
Work them with a twitching and pausing action to entice trout.
I think this is the most exciting lure choice for memorable trout sessions.
But What Color?
Color is a minefield, and can be a local nuance. Trout can be fussy, and this can be very annoying.
My approach is always to experiment. The problem is, there are so many variables. Why aren’t they biting?
Is it the lure type, the lure color, or my technique making them shy?
Match the hatch, and start from there. You should also use every bit of information you gleaned during research.
I’ve gone full sessions with countless lure changes, only to find the last color choice got the results.
But was it the color that did the trick? Or was it that the fish had only just arrived in the zone I was working?
What’s the best Bait To Use For Trout Fishing From Shore
For the best results, there’s nothing better than live bait. If you don’t have live bait, it must be fresh.
Nightcrawlers are a classic choice and a regular on trout menus. Thread them onto a hook and let them wriggle to attract hungry trout.
Small live minnows can be irresistible to trout, especially in colder water conditions. Hook them through the lips or tail for the best results.
Crickets are a great choice, especially during the summer months when they’re plentiful.
Other Classic Trout Baits
This synthetic bait is specially formulated to attract trout. It comes in various colors and scents, allowing you to experiment and find what works best in your local waters.
These natural baits are highly effective for trout. They imitate the eggs of other fish, making them a favorite for trout that are actively feeding on smaller fish and their eggs.
Plain canned corn kernels can work well, especially for stocked trout. They are easy to use and can be combined with other baits for added attraction.
Corn is a standard in ponds. It’s cheap, effective, and very easy to bait up, holding hooks surprisingly well.
Bread Dough/ Bread:
Simply pinch off a small piece of bread and mold it around your hook. It can be particularly effective when trout are feeding near the surface.
Bread is another brilliant option that’s easy and cost-effective. Fresh bread tends to mold far more easily onto a hook.
It can be a little tricky to feel the bite when using bread. Trout will often hold it in their mouths before you realize they’re there.
The Very Best Trout Bait for Land-Based Monsters
When you’re chasing trophy fish, I recommend that you select a large and particularly lively minnow.
Big fish will certainly take smaller baits, but a trophy fish is always on the hunt for a big meal.
When you use large minnows, you will usually eliminate attacks from smaller fish – not always, but it’s more likely.
When you’re hunting trophies, it’s best that you don’t have to contend with too much interest from regular-sized trout.
Patience and dedication are required for this type of hunt. Up your line class, and hook size, and set your rod in a sturdy rod holder. It could be a long wait.
When I’m hunting big trout with set minnows I will carry another rod and a selection of lures to keep me busy.
You’ll notice that a lot of trout anglers will set a number of rods. This is OK too, but rarely something I do.
As a final word on land-based trout fishing, I strongly advise that you become familiar with the local trout fishing laws.
Law enforcement can be very unforgiving, and ignorance isn’t a plea.
Get familiar before you fish. If you’re in doubt about anything, be it the season, bait types, catch numbers, minimum sizes, or rod numbers, always seek clarity first.