How to Catch Stocked Trout

Video best bait for stocked trout

Catching stocked trout can be easy if you know what the best bait is that stocked trout respond to. Some baits for catching trout from shore and on the water. Factors such as the weather to how long the trout have been in the water can affect the choice of the best lure.

Stocked Trout at the Hatchery

Top Lures for Catching Trout in a Pond or Lake

  1. Fishing Spoons
  2. Inline Spinners
  3. Berkeley PowerBait Floating Mice Tails

Best Lures for Catching Rainbow Trout

Berkley PowerBait Floating Mice Tails

PowerBait Mice Tails are worm shaped rubber lures that have a round “head” in a contrasting color.

They are called Floating Mice Tails because they are meant to be fished with a slip sinker rig that lets it float 8 to 16 inches from the bottom of the lake, reservoir or pond.

PowerBait Floating Mice Tails

White, pink, fluorescent green and orange are top fish catching colors for me. Brown is a good color if fishing clear water and the day is cloudless.

Read More: PowerBait Mice Tails

In addition to fishing these with a slip sinker rig, they can also be put onto a line that has a split shot sinker tied to 8 to 16 inches above it.

What that means is you tie the hook at the end of your fishing line, slip the mice tail onto the hook, then about eight to sixteen inches above that, you crimp on a split shot sinker.

It’s a fast way to rig up mice tails but it could result in some line twist.

Fishing Spoons for Catching Trout

One of my favorite ways of catching trout is with a spoon. What I do is set up a PowerBait rig on one pole then with another pole start casting a spoon.

In my personal experience, catching stocked trout with a fishing spoon can be one of the most effective ways to catch fish.

Top Fishing Spoons for Catching Trout in a Pond or Lake

  • Kastmaster Spoons
  • Mepps Little Wolf
  • Thomas Buoyant
  • Super Duper Spoon

Spoons have different qualities and uses. Here’s a list of the best spoons for catching trout and with a description of how the fishing spoons work.

Super Duper Trout Spoon

The Super Duper is, in my opinion, a finesse type spoon. They’re very light and require ultralight fishing gear. In my experience, trout seem to attack it aggressively when nothing else seems to be working.

Thomas Buoyant Fishing Spoons Trout Lure

The Thomas Buoyant spoons are great spoons for catching trout. Use a small size like about 1/8 ounce or even lighter if you have ultralight fishing gear. I have caught countless trout with the Thomas Buoyant spoon.

The reason it works so well is because the shape of the spoon allows it to be fished relatively slowly without it sinking to the bottom. That’s something that cannot be done with a Kastmaster.

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Kastmaster Spoons

Kastmaster spoons are fantastic spoons, too. What makes these spoons useful for catching trout is that they cast very far. Their aerodynamic shape helps them fly through the air farther. But that ability to cut through the air also makes it sink faster, as well.

That means you must reel it back to shore fast, which may or may not be the presentation that excites the trout. That said, I’ve caught so many fish with a Kastmaster, it really is a “must-have” lure.

Gold, silver/blue, and fluorescent orange/gold are top colors for brighter days. Firetiger is my go-to secret weapon for catching trout on cloudy days.

Mepps Little Wolf Spoon

The Little Wolf fishing spoon is one of my favorites because it has a fantastic tail-wagging action that trout seem to find irresistible. It darts left to right in a searching pattern.

Read More: Catch More Fish with Fishing Spoons

Drop Shot Fishing for Freshly Stocked Trout

An interesting way to catch stocked trout is to tie weight at the end of the fishing line, then add a hook about 12 inches above it so that the weight is at the bottom and the hook is higher up. That’s called a drop shot rig. Onto the hook you can put a three inch worm.

Then you can cast and retrieve. This works great for when trout have been freshly stocked and are swimming together in schools.

Stocked brown trout & brook trout

Brown trout & brook trout respond better to the instinctual trigger of a fleeing bait that is presented by an inline spinner, minnow shaped lure or a casting spoon.

Brown trout also more readily associate a worm with food than a stocked rainbow trout.

A meal worm or a hook laden with squirming little worms will trigger an enthusiastic lunge from a brown trout or a brook trout.

How to Catch Freshly Planted Trout

Notice how I keep repeating the phrase, freshly planted? When you read that phrase, please take it to mean that what I’m writing doesn’t necessarily hold true for trout that have been planted a month or more previously. A rainbow trout that has been in the lake or river for a few weeks will respond to real food like a worm.

How Stocked Trout Behave

Freshly stocked trout tend to swim in schools. If you are at a stocked reservoir, pond or river and see schools of trout swimming by, odds are that the lake has recently been recently stocked. Schooling is a behavior that comes from habit. Trout are raised in long oval shaped pools about two feet high. There is an artificial current in it and they tend to swim in circles, often counter clockwise. There is also netting above their pools to prevent birds of prey from swooping down on them.

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The above is important information to know. It explains the behavior of trout after they’re planted. Stocked trout tend to keep close to shore, perhaps seeking the comfort of the edge they had been used to from being in the pool. They also tend to prefer swimming about eighteen inches from the surface or eighteen inches from the bottom. This means that if you are going to float a fishing fly or other bait under a bobber, rigging the lure about eighteen inches below the bobber is a good start. This is true when the temperature of the water is optimal.

When it starts to get warmer or time passes, trout tend to hover about eighteen inches to two feet above the bottom of the lake, often just a short cast from shore.

If you’re fishing a sliding slip sinker rig and are not sure at what depth the trout are holding at, start at twelve inches for one pole and eighteen inches for another pole. Then gradually increase the length up to about two feet.

The thing about trout swimming counter clockwise is also important, particularly to anglers who are trolling bait.

If you want to trigger an instinctual chase response, try circling your boat or kayak in a counter clockwise direction, that way your lure will pass them from behind.

If you are drifting bait with a current, particularly in a river, then the natural movement is casting upstream and allowing the bait to float and tumble downstream to where the stocked fish are holding.

After time has passed, rainbow trout begin to regain instinctual behavior such as shyness, staying close to the bottom, feeding on insects and relating to structure.

Examples of structures that fish seek are steep drops from shallow to deep, boulders, underwater trees, underwater currents, breaks in currents that create an area of calm water, shade etc. After time has passed, a rainbow trout will be able to be caught with lures with lively action and live bait. Stocked brook trout and brown trout consistently respond to movement, the action of a lure, as well as to the size.

What Fishing Flies to Use to Catch Stocked Trout

For fly fishing, flies such as the Cove Pheasant Tail, brown Wooly Bugger, natural colored Gold Ribbed Hare’s Ear fly, AP Emerger and other similar nymph type flies will take trout.

I think it’s because, combined with the way they are presented in stillwater (i.e. lakes and ponds) they resemble the general profile of trout food. Both the Cove Pheasant Tail fishing fly and the AP Emerger are well regarded flies for stillwater, with the Cove having been created specifically for stocked trout in reservoirs. In my opinion it’s no coincidence they resemble in color, size and presentation the general profile of trout pellets splashing down, particularly when two or three flies are tied in tandem.

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What is Best Color PowerBait Dough for Catching Stocked Rainbow Trout?

There are many colors to choose from. Just keep in mind that white is a color that can be seen regardless of depth, regardless of how sunny or overcast the weather and without regard to whether the water is clear or murky. If you can only choose one color, white is the best color to choose because of how visible it is- and getting your bait noticed is one of the important keys to catching fish with dough since dough does not have fish attracting action. Other colors can be useful too, such as fluorescent for overcast days and pretty much anything for clear water.

Perhaps just as important as color is how light your hook is (will it float when smeared in trout dough?), making sure your bait ball isn’t too big, floating it at the right depth and casting it not too far from shore (although sometimes a long cast is necessary). These are rigged using a slip sinker rig.

Best Time of Day to Catch Stocked Trout

The best time to fish for stocked trout is during the early morning hours or about three hours after the brightest time of day, roughly between 3 PM and sundown. Stocked brown trout are especially active in the early morning and closer to sundown. Stocked rainbow trout can be triggered to bite bait all day if it’s cloudy.

While stocked trout can be caught at most times of day, anyone who is observant will notice that there are certain times of day where the fishing seems to “turn on” and many around a lake begin catching.

These are the best times to catch trout:

  • Trout Dislike Bright Sun Fish during times of day when it’s not bright.
  • Bugs tend to hatch at certain times of day, triggering feeding behavior
  • Stocked trout are fed once a day, usually in the late afternoon. They are conditioned to be fed at this time of day.

Rule of thumb, fish for stocked trout on either side of high noon when the sun is at its brightest.

If you have any questions please contact me. I would be more than happy to write a post answering your questions!

Have a great time catching fish!


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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>