Seasoned Angler Advice On How To Catch Lake Trout From Shore

by Thavius | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
Seasoned Angler Advice On How To Catch Lake Trout From Shore

Fishing for trout can be very adventurous and productive, especially if you want to catch lake trout from the shore. Lake trout is a trout species usually found in large lakes, unlike other trout species such as rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout, which are often found in salt or freshwater. Instinctively, trout will often assemble themselves in areas with lots of food, shelter, and other necessities. 

However, not all trout fishing involves wading through wild waters. The shore is also a perfect spot for catching lake trout. Contrary to what people assume, the fish can also be caught from the shore and not only in deep water. But your chances of success depend on whether you can successfully locate their sweet spot.

In this article, we will walk you through catching lake trout from shore using the best techniques and considering the numerous factors involved.

What Is The Best Season And Time To Catch Lake Trout?

Lakes are always open all year round for fishing. You may only need to adjust your fishing tactics depending on the season you choose to go after them. So, what exactly should you do?

First, you need to be on the lookout for the fish (lake trout) in a season when the temperature is cool enough for lake trout to remain in shallow waters and can be easily accessible from the shore. This season is usually between spring and fall when the water temperature is between 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Trout actively feed in these water temperatures.

Furthermore, they have been eating very little and moving sluggishly during the winter, so they will need to start replenishing their energy stores quickly. Therefore, they will hunt farther, less discriminately, and in more shallow water between spring and fall. For lake trout, which prefer colder water temperatures, this feeding frenzy can occur soon after the ice clears out on many lakes.

During lake trout fishing, it is essential to note that the shore has shallower water, and it gets warmer soon. If the surface gets too warm, they move to deep water. To catch the fish from the shore successfully, the best times to target your prey are dawn and dusk. During the day, fishing for lake trout can be hit or miss, but you may be lucky if the water temperature is cool or if the weather is cold or cloudy. At this time, the fish will be actively feeding closer to the shore.

Furthermore, trout fish do not like bright, direct sunlight. They are often more active on cloudy days. Rainy days are preferable for those who want to catch fish in a lake. Rainwater is rich in oxygen and provides plenty of energy for trout. The rain washes worms, bugs, smaller fish, and other tasty foods into the lake. On rainy days, nearby streams will also be filled with prey, bringing more nutrients and oxygen into the lake.

Since trout are known to love cold water because it holds more oxygen than warm water, you’ll quickly find them in cooler regions with oxygenated water.

Also, it’s good to know the lake trout spawning season so that you can avoid fishing for them during this period.

What Are The Techniques Best Used For Trout Fishing From Shore?

How Does Fly Fishing Work

Trout fishing is typically done with flies, although artificial lures can also be used. Fly fishing is one of the oldest techniques many anglers use to catch trout. When looking for trout, a light tackle and hook work perfectly. Trout fishing requires more skills and technique because they are picky eaters.

There are three main techniques used by anglers when fishing for trout. Depending on your location, lure or bait, level of skill, and experience, you can decide which of them best suits you:

Bobber Fishing

This is a technique most beginners use because it works well for shallow water fishing. For this technique, you must attach your lure to a baited hook. Above the hook, attach a smaller weight so it can sink below the surface.

Depending on your desired depth, add a slip bobber 45-90 cm above the hook. When you cast to the desired depth, wait for a signal that indicates that the fish has bitten your bait. The slip bobber will sink or move a bit. When this happens, you can reel in your catch.

Bottom Fishing

This is another exciting technique where you position your bait at the bottom of the lake. This technique is more advisable when trout are located in deeper water. To do this, you will only have to fix a bait on a hook and place a lead about 45 cm above the hook. This way, the lead will get to the bottom.


The last and most efficient technique to catch trout is using lures such as spoons – retrieving. However, it requires more skill and experience. Many times, spoons often masquerade as natural food, like small fish, and they tend to move in a very enticing way. In this technique, you cast the spoon where it will be easy to locate the trout, then let it sink, give it a quick jerk and start retrieving it. You may need to do this numerous times, as your retrieval speed and depth determine the success rate. After a few attempts, you’ll get it right.

Watch this video to learn popular trout fishing techniques:

What Is The Best Bait For Trout In A Lake?

You need to identify the best bait for this fish depending on whether they are stocked trout or not. Similarly, you also have to consider the feeding patterns of trout in many lakes to catch big lake trout. They are picky eaters, so bringing along different baits is a good idea. You may have to keep trying several baits till you find what they like. Power bait, corn, cheese, and other human foods are suitable for stocked trout.

Below is a list of baits that many anglers love:

  • Worms are among the best baits for many fish species, including trout. Often, trout are enticed by their scent and wiggling. They are cheap and easy to get. Also, they are considered the best bait when trout are lazy and not actively swimming around.
  • Power-baits are found to be highly effective for trout fishing. This bait is perfect for stocked trout. They are made from eggs which is why stocked trout enjoy feeding on them.
  • Baitfish works well too. You can consider using smaller fishes that live in a lake. This is a very good option in spring and fall when trout are actively swimming and looking for prey.
  • Insects are also useful baits. All you have to do is hunt for insects that trout would enjoy. The insects that lake trout go after most of the time are midges, mosquitoes, flying ants, and damselflies.
  • Salmon egg is also a great fishing bait that can be used to attract trout in a lake. However, when you use salmon eggs as bait, ensure the eggs don’t float away.

What Are The Best Lures To Catch Lake Trout From Shore?

You must give your prey some distance when trying to catch trout from the shore. More often than not, you will need to cover a lot of water to figure out where the trout are hiding. Lures help many anglers to search through the water at different depths.

Generally, casting lures is most productive towards the end of the colder months when trout feed actively. Shiny lures can attract lake trout from any distance, especially on dark days or deep water.

The following are some of the best lures to catch trout with:


Spoons are popular and effective lures for catching trout from the shore. They are helpful bait because they flutter, shine, and are visible to more trout from any distance. Spoons also make for a good lure because their bright metallic flashes entice trout.

These lures work well on windy days since they cast farther than others. The best spoon colors to catch big trout when fishing in lakes include white, brown, gold, black, silver, green, orange, pink, yellow, silver, red, and blue. These colors ensure your lure is visible at the right depth.


Spinners can also be very useful and productive for catching lake trout. They come in different sizes and colors. However, spinners can be trickier to use in still water. Since there’s no current to keep them moving, you must work your rod tip to jerk the spinner quickly. Spinners are perfect for fishing in moving water.

Watch this video to learn how to use spinners:


Crankbaits can be used to catch a lot of trout in lakes. When using a crankbait as a lure, pick the right one. In trout fishing lakes, it is best to use light tackle that will float or run in shallow water. You need to note that heavier ones will sink and are primarily suitable for deeper holes.

What Are The Recommended Gear To Catch Trout From Shore?

When looking to catch lake trout, you must consider the best gear. Fortunately, you will have a great time adopting the essential equipment most anglers already use. Some of the recommended gears are:

  1. Rod: The use of a rod, a lightweight spinning or a spin-casting rod, is the best way to catch trout. It should only be about 6ft, as it doesn’t need to be too long.
  2. Fishing line: When choosing fishing lines, mono lines are advisable, especially for beginners. A 4-6 pound mono line is enough for most lake trout you will catch from shore. In addition, mono lines are usually less visible, and the color of your line is crucial when fishing in clear waters.
  3. Reel: The reel to be used has to match the rod. You’ll fare better using a spinning reel. Size 3000 is the medium size for use, and you can never go wrong with it. If you’re targeting smaller trout, you can go with size 2500. But to catch big trout, you can go with size 4000 but not above.
  4. Hooks: When trout fishing, a light tackle hook size 8 or 10 will work perfectly. Whatever size of hook you decide to use, just make sure it is sharp and durable.

Depending on your fishing conditions, you may also need a slip bobber and lead split shots.

What Are The Best Locations To Find Trout In A Lake?

Often, locating trout may seem so simple, but you may not be able to decide which part of the shore to cast your line from. You’ll be surprised that most people overlook the best locations when shore fishing for trout in a lake. If you’ve been unable to make any catches, you may need to adjust your site based on the time of the year.

Like many other fish, trout found in lakes also have specific needs. The most needed item is trout food. In a lake, trout must move around to locate and catch their food. This is different from the scenario in moving water, where trout can stay in one spot and let the current bring the food to them.

Often, the food search brings them to the shore, making it easy to catch them. But, not all shorelines are equal. To locate trout in a lake, look out for the sweet spot of trout food, as this is where trout are likely to gather. The following tips will help you find the sweet spot for trout;

Use a Depth Map

To catch trout in a lake, get a depth map. It will help you locate the right depth. Depth is a crucial consideration depending on the time of the year you choose to try your fishing. The sweet spot depth is not constant when fishing for trout in a lake. It constantly moves up and down the water column in response to changes in water temperature. If you find that the water surface is warm, it is best to cast your bait deeper while covering as much space as you can.

Look out for the ripples

The easiest way to locate the location of trout in a lake is by looking out for the fish themselves. Often, they will come to the surface to feed, and when they do, you can easily see the ripples they make as they come up.

So, you must take a few minutes to stare at the water from the shore. You will know where to aim your cast if you see some ripples. Remember that when you visit a ripple, you probably look at more than one trout. Casting in this type of location increases your chances of success.

Find shade and shelter

Generally, trout do not like direct sunlight as they do not have eyelids. They dive deep or look for shade whenever the sun is out. They often find cover in areas with trees, cliffs, rocks, vegetation, or other places that block bright sunlight. These areas are the best places to find them.

As much as trout are predators, they are also prey for other animals. Large fish will often target them. As a result, they will want to stay hidden as much as possible. So they will also need to find shelter. Artificial structures like docks and fallen trees can be significant areas to catch fish near the shore of a lake.

Find the Thermocline

Locate the thermocline in the lake, and you will also locate the fish. The thermocline borders the warmer top water and the colder bottom water. The thermocline has the right combination of cold water temperatures and high oxygenation that fishes love.

You may also need to use a fish finder to locate the fish. They are always beneficial, especially if you’re a shore fisherman. Although most fish finders are made for boats, it’s also possible for you to get a castable fish finder that you can use for your shore fishing.

Focus on moving waters and stream inlets

Trout are lazy and will most likely not move around if they don’t need to. Many prefer to stay in one place and let the food come to them. To this end, you can cast your lure into the moving water so that the current takes it into the lake.

Key Insights & Takeaways

Finally, learning how to fish for lake trout from shore is usually not difficult. You only need to understand the factors that will influence your success. When you apply these factors, you will get the best fishing experience.

You must start thinking like your prey to catch a lake trout from the shore. Furthermore, you’ll need to be aware of everything they do. This will include the kind of food they eat, their favorite temperature, their feeding patterns and weather conditions; their preferred shelter, shade, their preferred baits, and lures.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you fish for trout from a lake shoreline?

Start by using bait to target the water column and draw your prey nearer. You may need to cast further or deeper depending on the nature of the water body.

What is the best bait for lake trout?

There are different types of bait you can use for lake trout. Your best choice will be determined by the nature of the species you encounter. Some options available to anglers include; fish baits, minnows, etc.

Does depth affect my chances of success at trout fishing?

Lake trout are marine species that like to shy away from light and will only come to the shore or surface to feed. If you’re having problems catching lake trout, you may need to adjust your fishing depth.

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I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.