I have been an avid trout fisherman for almost three decades, with a majority of that time spent fishing for and catching rainbow trout, and the question that I probably get asked more than any other by my fellow fishermen is when to fish. While there are a myriad of reasons why a trout might or might not bite your offering on a given day, there are some simple rules that should be adhered to in regards to when to fish for rainbow trout that have served me well over the years and have enabled me to experience success more often than not.
Below I will outline a few of these rules so that you can begin to determine the best time to fish for rainbow trout and thus begin to experience more success on the water as well. Your goal should be to have as many of these factors in your favor as possible on a given day, because I have learned that the more of them that are, the more trout I will catch. Having all of them in your favor only happens once or twice a year for me, but when it does, it always ends up being an epic day of trout fishing.
- Weather Fronts – The weather and more specifically the air pressure changes that occur when fronts pass through your fishing area, play quite a role in whether or not rainbow trout will be actively feeding. Check the weather forecast and try to be on the water fishing right after a warm front passes through the area. On the other hand, if a cold front passes through, generally rainbow trout will get “lock jaw” and become very difficult to catch.
- The Moon Rise – Many anglers don’t realize it, but the moon rises and sets just like the sun, but at different times of the day throughout the month and when the moon is rising or setting the fishing is usually much more productive. If you can be on your favorite trout water in the hour or two that brackets either one of these occurrences you will receive more bites from hungry rainbow trout, I promise you.
- The Moon Phase – The phase that the moon is in also plays a role in when to fish. The moon goes through 8 phases during each month, but for the purposes of freshwater fishing we need only concern ourselves with two. The Full and the new moon phases, with an emphasis on the new moon. Fishing is almost always better when the moon is “new”, so do your best to be on the water fishing for rainbows in the 2-3 day period around which the new moon is happening each month.
- The Barometer – The barometer is an instrument that is used to measure atmospheric pressure, which is also called barometric pressure. When the atmospheric pressure fluctuates, it affects the air bladders in fish and consequently makes them feel more or less like eating. Remember these simple rules in relation to the barometer. A rising barometer, the fishing should be slightly better with fish starting to get active. A falling barometer, the fishing very good to great. If the pressure is high, fishing should be average. If the pressure is low, fishing should be sub par at best.
Remember, the “best” time to fish for rainbow trout will vary from day to day, but the more of these factors you can have in your favor the better off you will be. “When to fish” is a question that every fisherman asks him or herself on many occasions and the answer can be found by paying attention to the aforementioned factors, along with others if you are willing to do a little research?