How To Fish For Trout in Lakes from Shore

How to Fish for Trout from Shore

Trout fishing is a great way to get started with the sport of fishing as most popular lakes stock trout. Trout are a relatively simple fish to catch and are a tasty fish to bring home and eat.

There are a ton of lakes across America that stock rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout depending on your region. I normally fish from the shore line, also known as bank fishing, and have always been able to catch rainbow trout.

So how do you fish for trout in lakes from shore? First use an egg sinker setup with powerbait or worms. Simply cast out and wait for the trout to bite. The other method when fishing for trout is to use a lure. Try using a spoon or spinner first before trying other trout lures.

Before we get started, make sure to checkout the Trout Fishing For Beginners guide if you are just getting started with trout fishing. This guide will help you get properly setup for trout fishing.

Where to Fish for Trout in a Lake

First you need to find a nearby lake that you want to fish. If you don’t already have a favorite fishing hole then check out our Trout Stocking: How To Find Nearby Trout Fishing Spots guide which will show you how to find stocked trout fishing spots near you.

Once you found a lake that you want to fish then focus on where the trout are typically stocked.

Fish the Trout Stocking Spot at the Lake

Initially stocked trout will not move very far from where they are stocked. In fact, stocked trout will remain in the stocked area for 3-10 days depending on the trout species.

This means your best chance of catching a stocked trout is to fish where they were stocked.


Keep in mind, if the stocked area has underwater structures, a great food source, or other things that trout like then they might stay in that area permanently. This is why it’s always a great idea to fish around where the trout are stocked.

Fish for Trout in Moving Water

Trout are naturally found in rivers and other bodies of moving water. This means there will be a higher concentration of trout near any inlets or outlets of water in the lake.

Trout also tend to move around to search for food instead of ambushing their prey like bass do. This means that you just need to cast out and wait when fishing near moving water. If there’s a trout nearby then they will come across your bait as they swim around looking for food.

Fish Near Underwater Structures

Although trout tend to swim around more compared to other fish such as bass, trout still like to have cover nearby. This means that areas that have fallen logs, large rocks, or even a overhanging tree are great spots to find trout.

Look for coves or points where the land sticks out into the water. Both of these areas are great fishing spots in general regardless of the species but also great areas to find trout.

Trout Fishing Depth

Weather plays a crucial role in how deep fish are in the water column. Trout might be near the surface on a cloudy day, but once it turns sunny the trout will be deeper.

There are a couple reasons for this. Remember trout are cold water fish so they tend to like cooler water. Sunny days mean warmer water near the surface so they go deeper.

So when its overcast or raining you can fish for trout at the bottom, middle, or top of the water column.

Sunny days mean you’re limited to the bottom or middle column. That means on sunny days you need to let you bait go lower in the water.

I have also noticed that before a storm the trout seem to go into a feeding frenzy.

Something about cold weather changes get the trout all riled up.

Best Time to Go Trout Fishing

Keep in mind that trout are cold water fish when deciding on a time to go trout fishing. You can look at the weather forecast to see what the air temperature will be throughout the day. Depending on the lake, you might be able to see the water temperature as well.

Do the temperature research before you go fishing so you know when the best times to go trout fishing are. Remember, cooler temperatures with light are the two most important parts for a good trout fishing day in terms of weather. Although a bright sunny day is not ideal for trout fishing since the heat will drive them into deeper waters.

Here are some seasonal tips:

  • In the summer, lake trout feed between first light to about 11am. Once the air and surface water starts to heat up then the trout tend to get dormant and swim in deeper waters until sunset.
  • In the spring time you can fish for trout throughout the day. The best time will still be in the early mornings or around sunset as those are the cooler parts of the day.
  • Rainy and overcast days tend to get the trout riled up. The cooler weather throughout the day along with the day light, even if clouds are blocking the sky, make the trout very active.

What Do Stocked Trout Eat?

Stocked trout are fish that have grown up in a hatchery and have been fed fish pellets their entire lives. This is important to know since stocked trout act and eat differently than wild trout.

Below is what a typical fish pellet looks like that gets fed to trout at the hatcheries:

Trout Fish Pellets

The important thing to understand is that stocked trout have been fed by humans their entire lives. They are used to eating pellets or small balls of food when they are hungry.

You will catch stocked trout if you use a bait that looks like a pellet or small ball.

This means Powerbait dough rolled into a ball is an effective bait to catch stocked trout.

What Bait to Use for Trout Fishing in a Lake

Stocked trout respond very well to a variety of trout bait. My list of the best bait for stocked trout are:

  1. Powerbait Dough
  2. Nightcrawlers
  3. Powerbait Mice Tails
  4. Salmon Eggs
  5. Corn

Powerbait Dough

Powerbait dough is the most used trout bait when fishing for stocked trout. The simple reason is that Powerbait will always work for catching stocked trout.

Powerbait dough is moldable so it is easy to create a small ball or pellet which is what the fish are used to eating as food in the hatchery. Simply mold the ball over a single or treble hook and then you’re ready to catch some trout.

Garlic Scent Powerbait for Trout Fishing

Read the Best Powerbait for Trout article to see all the different Powerbait options and how to use each one. Personally, these are my top 3 Powerbait dough options to catch stocked trout in any condition. Checkout these top 3 options on Amazon:

  1. Garlic Scented Powerbait (any color)
  2. Silver Vein or Gold Vein (striped color)
  3. Neon Pink (solid color)

You can either use an Egg Sinker / Carolina Rig setup so that you are fishing off the bottom which allows your Powerbait dough to float in the middle of the water column. The other option is to use a bobber and fish from the surface. Both work great depending on where the trout are.


The ole trusty nightcrawler lives up to the adage “if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.” This is arguable the best bait on the list but I placed the Powerbaits higher due to convenience.

Nightcrawler Worm for Fishing

You will need to get fresh nightcrawlers each time you go out fishing since these worms will die if not properly stored in a cool area.

The huge benefits of using a worm is that these are cheap, easy to find, and will always work. All you need to do is use a single hook, place the worm through or on the hook depending on the worm length, use a bobber, and cast out.

Worms are a natural fish bait that work for all types of fish. This option is great if you’re looking to catch trout, bluegill, crappie, bass, and other types of fish all on one fishing trip.

Powerbait Mice Tails

Powerbait Mice Tails combines two common trout foods, the egg and the worm into one single bait. These artificial worms are scented which draws the trout in since trout can smell.

They also have ridges along the worm body which causes these to dance in the moving water.

Similar to the original Powerbait we listed above, the mice tails come in a huge variety of colors as well.

I can personally vouch for the White/Bubblegum color which is the white egg and pink worm. The Chartreuse/Fluorescent Orange color which is the green egg and orange worm is another popular combination.

Simply use a bobber and fish these Mice Tails suspended in the water column. The trout will come biting when they see and smell this bait.

Salmon Eggs

Salmon Eggs are a great option when fishing for trout since this will also work on wild trout and other fish. Real salmon eggs need to be refrigerated and can spoil over time. Luckily, we can use Powerbait’s Power Eggs which are artificial and can last in our tackle box until we run out of them.

Powerbait Power Eggs

Either option is great and both look, smell, and feel like the tasty salmon eggs that trout love to eat.

In order to rig salmon eggs properly you should use a smaller single hook such as a size 10-14. Place however many eggs you want on the hook. I recommend placing three just in case one falls off then your hook is still baited.

Much like the other bait options, you can either fish off the bottom using weights or by using a bobber to suspend it in the water.


Corn might be another one of those surprise baits that you wouldn’t normally think fish would love but they do.

Trout Fishing Bait Corn

Now this one on Amazon is an artificial corn which is great since it will not go bad. However, you can grab a can of sweet corn from the grocery store and use that as bait.

Both are great options when it comes to fishing with corn.

Similar to fishing with salmon eggs you will want to use a single hook and place a kernel on it. Since the corn is larger you will want to use a size 8 or 10 hook.

Place one kernel of corn on the hook and test to make sure it floats. All you need to do now is add weights about 1-3 feet above the hook to fish off the bottom.

Add a bobber above the weights and then you will be fishing suspended from the surface.

What Lures to Use for Trout Fishing in a Lake

Fishing lures are a whole different fishing method compared to bait fishing. Bait fishing is passive where you wait for the trout to bite and reel them in. Lures involve actively casting out and hunting for the fish based on what you see and feel.

I recommend sticking to bait when first starting off so you have a higher chance of catching some stocked rainbow trout. However, you can checkout the Best Trout Fishing Lures article that lists the top 10 trout lures and how to fish each one.

Here are the top 3 fishing lures I recommend when fishing for stocked trout. Remember, you need a variety of lures with trout since what works one day may not work the next.

ACME Kastermaster Spoon

You will find these lures on almost every top trout fishing list and for good reason.

Use the 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce sizes since those have the best balance of enough weight to cast from shore yet still small enough to fit in a trout’s mouth. See the huge variety of sizes and color combinations of Kastermasters on Amazon.

I have caught and seen people catch bass, trout, and even bluegill with the smaller sizes. This all-purpose lure is a must have since it wobbles through the water imitating a bait fish and the solid brass material lets this lure fly on every cast.

These lures sink fast so be sure to have a steady reel in when fishing from shore.

Panther Martin Spinner

These lures are legendary in the trout fishing scene and you will almost always find one of these lures in an angler’s tackle box.

Go with the 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce spinners.

Just cast and reel in which causes the blade to spin and produce a thumping noise. This lure will earn the nickname ole reliable once you start getting more casts in.

Try different colors based on the weather and water visibility. See the huge selection of colors on Amazon and find your new favorite one.

In darker waters the brighter colors tend to perform better while clear water the silver colors tend to get me more strikes.

Rapala Original Floater

This is another lure that shows up on every top lure list for any fresh waster fish including trout.

The Rapala Original Floater is a simple reel and jerk type lure that causes them to wobble and hover that drives fish nuts.

Start off with the size 7 lure and adjust based on the fish size. Select the color that most resembles the native fish in your area since that’s what the trout are looking to hunt and eat. See all the color options on Amazon.

Bonus Pro Tip: Garlic Scent for Bait and Lures

The pro tip when fishing for rainbow trout is to dip your bait and lures in garlic scent before casting out. If you can soak your bait overnight in the garlic scent then you will have much better results.

When researching trout scents I noticed all of them are heavy on garlic. So much so that someone wrote in a review:

Trout Fishing Bait Garlic Scent

Below is one of the most popular garlic scented dips for your bait. These garlic scents will also work on your fishing lures. See what other anglers have to say about this scent on Amazon.

Trout Fishing Bait Garlic Scent

Frequently Asked Questions About Fishing for Trout in Lakes from Shore

Q: Where are the trout in a lake?

A: Stocked trout will be near the trout stocking area for at least 3-10 days. Trout like moving water so any inlets or outlets will be hot spots for trout. Underwater structures such as fallen logs, rocks, or an overhanging tree are also good areas to fish for trout.

Q: How do you trout fish from shore?

A: I recommend using an egg sinker setup which is where you fish off the bottom while your bait floats in the middle of the water. This setup works great for lake trout since you’re presenting their food (powerbait, worm, etc) in front of their face so they will bite if they see it.


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