When fishing for trout over winter. It is best to use lures which have plenty of action on a slow retrieve. That is because trout are sluggish, and less likely to chase after fast moving prey. In winter I prefer to fish lures which sink, such as spoons, spinners or deep diving jerk baits.
Can trout be caught over winter?
Many trout fishermen, pack away their rods over winter and take up other activities. Now, I will not claim that winter fishing is easy. In most places it is certainly challenging, but trout certainly be caught over the winter months. In fact, one of my biggest brown trout was taken on a jerkbait on a miserable winters day.
When winter fishing, I generally only fish the warmest part of the day. So the opposite to summer fishing. I rarely start fishing before 11am, I want to give the sun time to raise and start warming the surface.
Dress warm when winter fishing
It is important to dress warm, nothing ruins a winter fishing trip faster than cold frozen hands. In winter, I always keep a change of clothing in the car. No matter how careful you are, there is always a chance of ending up in the drink.
One winter morning, I was searching for trout in a small pool, and decided to climb up onto a large flat rock to get a slightly better view. Unknown to me at the time, that rock was covered with a thin layer of ice. I instantly lost my footing, my back bounced off the rock and before I knew I was completely underwater. It can only take a second, and does not even require wading.
Luckily, I was wearing wool, and only about twenty minutes from the car.
Can I use my summer lures in winter?
The short answer is yes. Your favourite lures from over summer, will likely still work and catch fishing over the colder months.
But, there are some important differences to take into consideration. When the water is very cold, trout do become sluggish. They swim slower, and hunt slower. While in the summer they might happily chase after a kastmaster speeding through the water, that same trout in winter will only respond very slowly.
That means, lures which have their most effective action at a slow retrieve are the most productive at catching trout over the winter months.
It is also worth noting. That many of the trout caught over summer are stock fish. In most areas, trout do not get stocked over the winter months. So the only trout which remain are wild fish or cunning holdovers. These trout do have different feeding preferences compared with recently release stockies.
So when selecting your lures, choose patterns which work best on resident fish. The stock trout will not be returning until the spring.
How cold is too cold for trout fishing?
In the summer, most fishermen know that when the water gets too warm. The trout become reluctant to feed, the opposite is true in winter. The optimum water temperature for trout feeding is around 60f. The more it deviates from that, the more difficult fishing becomes.
The lower limits for trout fishing is around 44F (6c), much colder and the fishing become difficult. If possible, the trout will seek out warmer waters, either heading deeper into the lake or might even head towards springs which typically flow warmer than lake and free flowing rivers over winter.
Basically, the colder the water gets. The less active the trout become, requiring a slower, more precise presentation to catch them. Winter is not the time of year to be quickly jerking a popper across the surface. Slowing twitching a worm across the bottom works much better.
9 Best trout lures for cold water
Inline Spinners are great at catching trout any time of the year.
I love fishing inline spinners for trout, but many of them work best at a slightly faster retrieve. The Mepps Marabou features a large Colorado style blade, which starts spinning at slower speeds than any other blade style. This makes the Mepps Marabou an excellent spinning for fishing slow to sluggish trout.
The Kastmaster is a very versatile lure, when winter fishing. I do not recommend casting and retrieving your kastmasters, but rather slow jig it along the bottom. Bouncing it slowly across the bottom can pick up trout laying low.
The Daredevle is a classic spoon, and just like the Kastmaster is works well jigging close to the bottom. Nice and slow . The more round design, allows it to sink slower, and flatter more than the more aerodynamic kastmaster.
The Wordens Flatfish does not get the attention it deserves, it is one of the best lures when fishing is tough. It works extra well over winter, because it still has plenty of action even on the slowest of retrieves.
I fish Rapalas more than any other lure, and the jointed Rapala has the most pronounce action. It even wiggles alone, even at a very slow retrieve. Making it perfect for catching the attention of a slow moving trout.
If I want to cast and retrieve a spoon over winter, the Thomas Buoyant is my first choice. The Thomas Bouyant, is a slow sinking spoon. This means it takes longer to flatter towards the bottom, increasing the chances a trout will grab it on the drop. The lightness, means it can be retrieved slower than most comparable spoons.
The C.P Swing is a less known inline spinner. It is also made out of relatively lightweight materials. This allows it to sink slower, which in turn allows for a much slower presentation. I do not fish C.P swings often, but I find they excel for fishing slow moving pools over the colder months.
When winter fishing for trout, you need to play ever trick in the book. Joe flies combine the attention grabbing vibration of a spinner, with the realistic appeal of a trailing fly. It is also made light, so good for slow presentations. Best fished in small streams or close to the shore where long casts are not a requirement.
Blue Fox Vibrax
While a slow presentation usually works best during the winter. Sometimes trout simply hot deep, and to reach them in fast flowing water requires a lure which sinks quickly. The Blue Fox Vibrax sinks fast and gives of plenty of flash. Making it excellent at getting a response from trout.
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