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Locating Stillwater Trout::Comfort Factors

By Phil Rowley


Fly fishers comfortable finding trout on moving water are often at a loss when it comes to stillwaters. At first glance lakes are flat and featureless. Figuring out where trout might be hiding seems daunting if not impossible. Believe it or not, lakes like rivers, are easy to read. As when fishing moving waters I use three main criteria to locate stillwater trout; comfort, protection and food.

Let’s look at two of the comfort factors I use to determine trout location, water temperature and barometric pressure. Comfort is perhaps the most important factor, for if a trout’s basic needs aren’t met it likely won’t feed. Water temperature is a critical comfort element. Trout are cold blooded and as such their metabolism is governed by the surrounding water temperature. A thermometer should accompany you whenever you are on the water. I attach a string to my thermometer so I can determine temperatures not only at the surface but down deep.

Get to know the temperature range of each species and use a thermometer to locate areas where they might be hanging out. Within their preferred temperature ranges trout and char have the required dissolved oxygen content to forage and digest their food quickly. Feeding fish are catchable fish!

Species PreferredTemperature Range
Rainbow Trout50F-60F
Brown Trout60F-70F
Cutthroat Trout55F-65F
Brook Trout52F-56F