Trout Activity Water Temperature

It’s the night before the greatest day of a 14-year-old boy’s life, the opening Season of Trout. You buy the latest tackle and lures along with fresh live bait the night before you and your buddies start the long walk down to the freshly stocked lake early to get a good spot, telling stories about catching your limit in the cold April air where the stocked trout are hungry and jumping out of the near-freezing water when we get there. What is the best water temperature for Trout activity?

Trout are cold-blooded fish that prefer to live & feed in colder H2O around 53°F which holds more dissolved oxygen but as H2O warms, oxygen begins to dissipate, and trout become less active and will move up & down in the water column or to a different location to find colder temperatures.

Trout temperature tolerances vary by species, but not by a lot with Rainbow and Brown being the hardiest they are the most stocked and the most taken on the First Day of Trout Season.


When Are Trout Most Active


There are many variables that go into when Trout is the most active. The most obvious time is in warmer months when the temperatures are starting to climb then early in the morning when the air and water are cooler than the rest of the day.

Then late in the day when just before dark when the sun goes down for the same reason. When the sun comes up in much warmer temperatures look for signs of insects over a stream even in early spring when a few degrees can make all the difference.

Those slight rises in the warmth will stimulate life meaning smaller insects that are native to the water and the ecosystem. Once you see a few insects flying over the water then nature starts to wake up the bugs then the birds then the fish will rise up to those thermal layers of warmer water that are exposed to the sun. It doesn’t take long.

Fly-Fishermen use the native flies to catch the native Trout that can live in the same waters for up to 20 years. Trout who swim the streams love to feed on insects, aquatic life, and flies.

In early spring try using insects more towards the midday when the sun gets a few hours of solar rays on the water and in later spring where the morning hours are cool enough because the sun hasn’t had the chance to push the temperatures too high for the Trout’s liking.

Trout is kind of funny when the water’s temperature is involved and will eat and stay active as long as the environment is comfortable around them and around a stream when the temperature breaks ever so slightly. A few degrees can act as an alarm clock waking up the whole ecosystem including the Trout.

I like These Rules of Thumb for catching Trout

  • Rule of thumb: If the air temperature is uncomfortable for you below freezing or too hot, it will be uncomfortable for the trout as well, since they are cold-blooded and their body temperatures reflect the temperature of the water they swim in. Because Trout are cold-blooded then they like water temperatures of 34 to 67 degrees but will feed in the best temperatures between 44 and 64 degrees.
  • Take the temperature of the water and you can physically see it.
  • Since Trout don’t have eyelids and can’t dilate their pupils, they must seek shade in the extreme sun to avoid bright lights. So if you can, fish under cloud cover when water temperatures are cooler or look for shady areas where you can quietly walk into the water using waders or hip boots.
  • If the water moves above 60 degrees move upstream or deeper into the water column into cooler water

Water Temperature For Trout


In Nature, the warmer the water the less oxygen the water can hold. As temperature rises and dissolved oxygen decreases, fish begin to experience stress. These stresses begin to set in well before the water temperature reaches lethal limits. So even though some Trout can survive up to temperatures near 78° rainbow trout can stop growing well before that.

So you may see some Trout facing current on top of a stream are probably stressed and lack the amount of oxygen to eat or fight after you hook them. You may think they’re feeding, but they are not in fact their mouth will probably be closed while they are trying to circulate more water around their gills to get more dissolved oxygen. It’s like they are gasping for air.

This makes them a non-candidate for a Catch and Release Fish. There is a considerable consensus that all three major trout species (brook, brown, and rainbow) begin to experience some level of stress at around 65 -68°F (20°C), with that stress increasing rapidly as the temperature rises further. In general, Trout are the most comfortable at about 53°F

On days when temperatures start to rise, and especially during extended periods of high temperatures, the catch and release fisherman should pay specific attention to stream temperatures throughout the stream he or she is hoping to fish. When temperatures in moving water exceed 68°F (20°C), it’s best to call it and try it another day.

Brook Trout need more oxygen and a lower water temperature than its cousins the Rainbow and the Browns. That is why your abt to find Brook Trout at higher elevations. The best feeding temperatures for Brook Trout run from about 44 degrees to 64 degrees. The temperature that a Brook Trout begins to stress at is 65°-68°F and the water temperature at which might be lethal to Brook Trout is around 70 degrees.

What a fisherman needs to know is when a fish starts to stress and just like humans when they are stressed they are less likely to chase a lure or even eat a meal that is presented to them. Rainbows and Browns are the hardier fish of the trout family, which is why most states choose to stock them in their streams and lakes.


What Is Snagging Alaska Salmon

How to Catch Lake Trout In Summer


Lake Trout is still the most popular fish in a big lake to fish for and up north where the water stays colder they can be fished all summer long in deeper water. Jigging’s erratic motion mimics a wounded fish and is the preferred method for catching Lake Trout. One of the top lake trout fishing tips is knowing the best lake trout jigging lures to use. When learning how to catch lake trout, it’s important to know that they prefer light lures so consider stocking up on small spinners and spoons. If you want to try live bait, try nightcrawlers, salmon eggs, or minnows that mimic their native prey.

Lake trout prefer to be in approximately 53-degree water. Their depth and eating habits will change with the weather. They will come up in the water column if they are hungry enough.

  • In the early spring and fall, lake trout swim at a depth of between 35 and 45 feet (10.7 to 13.7m).
  • Later in the spring and in the summer, they move deeper to 50 to 65 feet (15.4 to 19.8m).
  • In cold weather, when the lake is iced over, trout are found closer to the surface, at a depth of about 10 feet (3 m).

Use lightweight tackle Use a light-action rod with a 4 to 6-pound test and would bump that mono string up a 10-pound test for the deeper Lake Trout fish depending on depth. This is the best rod to use for trout fishing and allows you to use a variety of techniques to catch your trout.

The lighter line has less friction with the water, allowing you cast your line to bump the very bottom of the lake with ease. Research source Some lake trout can be over 35 pounds, you will need a heavier rod for these. From my experience, the bigger Lake Trout don’t taste the same as the smaller Rainbow or Brook Trout but they are fighters and pure fun to catch.


Jigging Fishing Techniques





Trout Water Temperature Chart


Fishing for Trout in Lakes or rivers you need some quick information without the bells and whistles of expensive electronics that some fresh and saltwater boats have on board. Trout move according to temperature in the water column moving up and down to feed or find colder water that happens in layers in a lake. They are comfortable at different levels in different seasons as the water is warm or chills.

On any size boat, you can get the depth and temperature with small inexpensive electronic equipment like this device that fits on a keychain. Triple S Sporting Supplies, In Fish Hawk Electronics TD Digital at-Depth Water, found on Amazon and recommended by MyWaterEarth&Sky.

It can work alongside the Trac Outdoors Fishing Barometer – Track Pressure Trends for Fishing Success – Easy Calibration add both of these small but powerful tools to your tackle box monitoring Baromic Pressure and Temperatures can put you ahead in the game with more action!

The lake trout are found throughout most of Canada and well into Alaska as well as the Great Lakes and in sections of the western U.S. where it has been introduced. In the southern portions of its range, or where introduced south of its native range, it seeks out the cooler waters of deep lakes. In northern lakes, it may occur in either shallow or deep water.

The body is typically grayish to brownish with white or nearly white spots that extend onto the dorsal, adipose, and caudal fins. There are no red, black, or haloed spots of any kind. Once you know the temperatures at each level in the water column then you’ll know where the Trout are and most likely where they are feeding at.

Catching Trout is an all-year sport with the right set-up and equipment you’ll be able to locate them because you’ll know where to look no matter how deep the water is. In the summer months or Winter, trout are available if you know where to look for them. Long before Opening Trout season when your State is stocking the lakes and streams and well after that, Trout can be caught in a location near you.

Don’t forget to check your State’s regulation for Trout Season. In Pennsylvania, it’s the opening day which this year is earlier (April 3rd thru Labor Day, Labor Day until Dec 31st-which is the Extended Season added).  Check with your own State for details.

When the water temperature hits 68 degrees, you should stop fishing for the Rainbows and Browns in the river and streams and head out to the bigger, deeper, cooler depths for Lake Trout.


Trout Identification



JimGalloway Author/Editor


References: Hatch – Trout and water temperature: How hot is too hot?

Take Me Fishing.Org




Recent Posts