How to Catch Trout in a River? [A Simple Guide]

How to Catch Trout in a River

Catching a trout can be very exciting and adventurous!

Especially if you are fishing on a wild river ...

There is nothing better than spending your day in nature and practicing all kinds of fishing techniques.

To catch a trout in a river you will have to find a location where trouts congregate.

Water has to be cold and oxygenated, and if you really want to catch a big one, try using different lures, like swimbaits or soft plastic.

Some anglers prefer fly-fishing, so maybe learn this technique too.

To know more about how to catch trout in a river, read the following chapters:



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Where Can I Find Big Trout in a River?

First of all, no matter how hard you try, in some locations you won’t be able to find huge trout specimens, simply because they do not live everywhere.

There are a lot of great trout fishing locations, but the ones you catch are going to be some average size.

Some locations have a lot of natural food sources, or they demand catch and release.

In these places, trout is going to be large.

So, this is one of the first clues.

Find a river which is not easily accessible to many people who would otherwise take huge specimens away.

Avoid rivers where large predator species live, like bass. They feed on smaller trout, so they do not have the chance to grow big, and there are not many of them.

Bigger specimens frequently live in bigger waters.

You may sometimes find them in smaller streams, but it would be best to find deeper and larger water. If it doesn’t freeze over winter, that is a good sign.

Trouts like well oxygenated and cooler water too ...

Big fish are smart and keep that in mind. They like to eat as much as they can but conserve their energy.

You will not find them in very fast waters. Search for locations where currents are a bit slower, or locations where currents transit from fast to slow. You can also try behind natural obstacles which slow down the water.

Check out the available food sources.

If there is a lot of insects and fish like minnows, trout most likely have an abundance of food.

I already mentioned bigger water that do not freeze. Freezing and harsh winter conditions mean that there is almost no food for a certain period of time.

If the river has cascades, those are also good laces to look for. Deep pockets and pools are a good place too.

To know how to catch trout in a river, you will have to learn to recognize the premium spots.

What do Trout Naturally Eat in a River?

Trout in rivers eat a variety of foods, depending on what is available in heir area.

To grow big, they need to have a constant and abundant food source.

Smaller trout eat smaller prey, while bigger ones eat bigger.

This is actually great for bait selection, which I am going to mention in the next chapter.

Trout eat all kinds of insects, both aquatic ones and those which accidentally fall into the water.

This is one of the reasons that fly fishing for trout is so popular.

However, insects are usually eaten by smaller specimens, and when fly fishing, you will mostly catch some average trout. Although, sometimes it is possible to get a big one.

Among other things they eat are crustaceans, leeches, worms, and small fish.

Because wild trout live in wild rivers, surrounded by nature, there is the whole food chain present, and they are a part of it.

When there is lack of insects or small fish, trout wont be able to grow so big.

What is the Best Bait for Trout in a River?

As already mentioned, fly-fishing is very popular technique when it comes to trout fishing.

For that, you have a wide selection of artificial flies and you can always have a few to change on the spot.

If you are not interested in fly fishing and want to increase your chances to catch a big trout, try the following options:


No matter which lure you use, choose a size according to a specific location, and downsize if the water is small.

Trout will hardly resist when they see a flashy spinner, especially in a bit darker conditions.

These lures produce just enough vibration and movement to trigger a bite from a large trout.

If you want to learn more about spinners for trout than you can read my other article with title Best Spinners for Trout.


Another lure type to consider is a spoon.

These are great for deeper holes and have a bit less erratic movement.

Spoons, especially smaller ones, are less likely to spook the fish.

Both spinners and spoons are great for murky water because they are flashy and highly visible.


Pieces of live ones, or even artificial worms, on a simple split shot rig, are great for trout fishing.

Artificial ones are easier to use and available in all sizes, shapes and colors, while real ones have the scent and movement which is appealing to the fish.

And you can buy worms really easy ...


If you asked anglers to choose just one lure for trout fishing in rivers, many of them would say Rapala Original.

It is a great wobbler that can be used on surface or as a shallow runner.

It resembles small fish and large hungry trout will be happy to see it.

To increase your chances have a few options with you ...

Even if you are fishing on the same place where you were yesterday, the same lures may not bring the same result.

Adapt to a certain situation, and change lures if necessary.

What is the Best Time (and Weather) to Go Trout Fishing in a River?

To catch a big trout, you can use weather and certain conditions to increase your chances.

Trout will be active during low light conditions such as early morning and evening.

If the day is cloudy and sunlight is partially blocked, you can catch them during the day too.

Weather affects fishing a lot, and anglers will tell you that fishing before storm is great, and that is true in 99% of the cases.

However, trout frequently eat insects, worms and similar creatures that accidentally end up in he water.

Try fishing after heavy rain for trout, because the rain will wash those into the water and trigger hungry trout.

If you can, you can also go trout fishing when aquatic insects hatch and attract hungry trout.

Check the insect species in your area and find out their activity periods. It is connected with trout activity.

Early spring and fall are among the best times to fish for trout.

Many insects hatch and food becomes more available. It triggers feeding and trout activity.

Aim for cloudy and rainy days and avoid calm days with bright sunlight.

When I say rainy, I mean light to moderate rain. You should never fish during a thunderstorm. Fish wont be active and you might get hurt.

Where is the Best River Trout Fishing in the World?

There are a lot of good places for trout fishing, but some of them are really spectacular.

Wild waters, pristine nature and healthy population of trout make them stand out.

Here is the the TOP 5, located in different parts of the world:


Kenai river is wild, beautiful, and located in Alaska.

Alaska is world famous for great fishing locations.

Trout in Kenai river will bite on salmon eggs. If you are interested in trying something new, this is a place for you.


Rainbow trouts grow huge there!

Kamchatka is world famous for trout fishing, and one of the best fly fishing locations too.

There are other rivers like Ozernaya and Sedanka near by, so you can switch locations and explore this amazing place.


New Zealand is wild, remote, and has hundreds of rivers and streams to fish.

Trout grow big there.

Many of the best locations are not accessible by road, and these wild trouts live there undisturbed by people. To reach the best destinations you will have to hike or even take a helicopter ride.

If you are really adventurous, this is for you. Keep in mind that may of these trouts have never seen a lure or a human, so they could easily be spooked. Fishing here is technically demanding.

I will not mention a specific location, because there are too many, and all are excellent. Northern Island is a bit better.


If you are looking for giant brown trout, Rio Grade is a place to go.

The place is huge, and even in the most popular season, like spring, you will easily find a place along the river where you will enjoy complete solitude.


If you are looking for a European trout fishing destination, search no more.

Slovenia is a small country with numerous wild alpine creeks and rivers. The best thing is that you can visit many of them in just a few days

It is a perfect blend of populated areas and pristine wilderness. Many rivers are easily accessible, but if you wish to enjoy solitude, you can hike further away and find the best location.

Rivers Soča and Idrjica are the best, but many other locations are excellent too.

You can also check my article and fishing report about Fly Fishing on Soča ...

What is the Best Way to Catch Trout in a River? Other Tips …

When thinking about how to catch trout in a river, you will have to find a perfect location and time of the day.

However, there are a few more tips and tricks which should help you catch a big one.


Trout are very aware of their surroundings and are on high alert to avoid predators.

Avoid wading through the area you are fishing in. Try not to make a lot of noise and blend into the environment.

The same goes for casting and retrieving. Make subtle motion and avoid splashing too much.


Patience is the key.

And you will have to cast multiple times to trigger a bite from that huge and suspicious trout. Don’t try to rush anything.


When you see trout feeding, you will notice that larger specimens are usually in the front. Cast in a way that they can see and bite your lure first.


If you are serious about trout fishing and want to catch big ones, invest your money in the right tackle.

Cheap and flimsy rods wont bring you any success.


Catching wild trout in a river is fun and adventurous, but it is also quite demanding and hard.

When thinking about how to catch trout in a river, you will have to pay attention to a lot of details.

If you don’t have a lot of success in the beginning, don’t worry, patience is the key. If you catch plenty of smaller trouts but not a single big one, think about changing the location.

To preserve a healthy trout population, and enable other anglers to enjoy fishing, practice catch and release. Take a picture, handle the fish properly, and let it go.

Obey the local rules and regulations too, and do not keep a too small fish either.

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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