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Trout Fishing Lakes Vs Rivers: What's The Difference?

Trout Fishing Lakes Vs Rivers: What's The Difference?

Although trout are native to streams and rivers, they have also been stocked in many lakes and reservoirs across the country, particularly those with the deep, cold water they prefer.Despite being the same species, stream trout and lake/reservoir trout can be extremely different when it comes to their feeding habits, preferred structure, and even the types of gear that most effectively target them.Here is a highlight of several differences between stream and lake-run trout, and how you can use them to your advantage when trout fishing:

Trout Fishing Habitat Choice

Obviously, streams and lakes offer distinctly different cover and structure options. In streams, water temperature and oxygen levels are relatively constant, so it’s structure (like runs, pools, and cut banks) that trout focus on when choosing their haunts. In lakes, there can be stark differences in water temperature and oxygen levels across the water column, so trout focus on hanging in areas that feature the right mix. This causes them to be roamers, and they will usually cruise the deeper basins of a lake or reservoir looking for baitfish. When targeting trout in lakes, concentrate on searching the deeper basins for areas with baitfish present, and start fishing with a great imitator like the Dynamic Lures HD Trout.

Trout Fishing Food Preference

In streams, trout are stuck within the confines of the streambanks, and thus are opportunistic feeders - frequently dining on a wide range of insect, minnow, and terrestrial forage. Essentially anything that floats by – from worms, grasshoppers, insect larvae, and bigger forage like baitfish and crayfish is fair game. Contrastingly in lakes, trout don’t have nearly as many options available, and are often much more dedicated to chasing baitfish than any other food source. For that reason, limit your lake trout presentations to baitfish imitators like the Lucky Craft Bevy Shad, and when fishing streams, try a wider variety of different patterns until you start getting some bites.

Trout Fishing Angling Methods

Stream trout can be readily caught with both spinning and fly tackle, and both artificials and live bait. If it lives in, or can fall in a stream, there’s a good chance some resourceful angler has used it as bait. Lake run trout can be a little more selective, and because they are deeper much of the year – top presentations include fishing deep with spinning tackle and baitfish imitators, or trolling with lead core, snap weights, or pre-rigged flashers like the Green Mountain Grabber.

Updated January 22nd, 2021 at 2:47 AM CT