Brook Trout Fishing – How to Catch with Bait and Lures

brook trout fishing

Brook trout fishing is some of the most rewarding you are ever likely to do. Catching this elusive little trout can be tricky, but armed with the right knowledge and gear you can greatly improve your chances.

Brook trout(Salvelinus fontinalis) was originally thought to be a member of the salmonoid genus, however they were later on moved into the char family. Yet they are still generally referred to as trout.

​Appearance 

Stunning to look at brook trout have a distinctive orange hue to their belly which becomes very pronounced in the male fish around spawning time. Their back is generally a dark olive wavy pattern in color and these little trout have a line of red and yellow spots down their flank plus a slight pink tint to there fins.

Brook trout that live in small rivers and streams will not grow much larger than ​about 16 inches. In larger rivers and mountain lakes that are stream fed than can grow in excess of 20 inches. For most anglers a brook trout that is over 20 inches is quite the trophy fish. Due to there small size they can be found in higher numbers than other trout that they share a river with.

Habitat

​Brook trout are predominantly found across the east coast of America and Canada. Favoring colder, cleaner rivers and streams than larger brown/rainbow trout. Compared to other trout they seem to thrive in shallower waters often at altitude, where the temperature is generally lower and the water is heavily oxygenated. The best water temperature when brook trout fishing is usually below 65° Fahrenheit although they can endure extremes from near freezing up to 70° for a short time.

Brook Trout Fishing

Brook trout have a reputation for being aggressive little biters for their size which is why they are so much fun to fish for. The need to use light trout tackle can make them feel quite powerful in the water as they dart through the current and from pool to pool. Because of where the are mostly found the scenery and the experience is a lot more special than fishing for rainbow trout in stocked pools. Often you may be required to hike quiet a bit from the road so just make sure you are properly prepared for that. You can also fish from a boat if the local lake is big enough.

Rivers/Streams

If fishing on a small river or stream then you need to be walking upstream as you cast, never try to cast down stream to a brook trout, they are just to easy to scare. Try to dress in dark clothes ​that allow you to blend in with the background.

If you have to fish side to the fish from the bank then try to remain as far back from the waters edge as possible, it is very easy to spook fish on smaller waters and they may stay that way for several hours.

Brook trout can usually be found under some kind of cover or if the river allows it in one of the deeper pools. This means you will need to accurately cast every time right up close to where they are hiding. Being able to place you lure or bait right beside or slightly ahead of where they are hiding is going to improve your chances of hooking a brook trout significantly. ​

Lakes

If fishing for brook trout from a boat then the best approach is to get right up to the shore or any features that will allow the trout to hide in ambush for bait-fish. Casting and retrieving as you move along the shoreline will mean you will get to cover a huge amount of water very quickly. The biggest brook trout are generally from lakes.​

Brook Trout Lures

What are the best brook trout lures?
The best lures for brook trout fishing are mostly small Rapalas, spinners and spoons. Fished on ultralight fishing tackle.

Brook trout spinners should always be sized as small as your tackle will allow. All brook trout fishing lures should be presented as carefully as possible as these little fish can be easily spooked.

Brook Trout Bait

What is the best bait for brook trout?

  • Nightcrawlers - hard to beat a nightcrawler bounced along a river with nothing but hook and line
  • Crickets - Great in high summer months
  • Mayfly - When the hatch is on watch the brookies gorge on the local mayfly hatch
  • Crayfish - Small crayfish worked along the bottom on a river or stream can be very successful
  • Salmon eggs - can work great on clear streams when fished as natural as possible

Personally I'm not a fan of using artificial bait for either brown or brook trout as I feel that is best suited to stocked rainbow trout.

Tackle

Super light tackle is the name of the game when it comes to fishing brook trout lures and bait:

  • Rod - fast action spining rod, ultra light at about 5 foot in length
  • Reel - ultra light spinning reel
  • Hooks - for bait look at a #12​ sized hook or smaller
  • Line - 4-6 lbs main rod fishing line, but would try to stick to the 4 lbs
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