Trout Fishing: Seven Mistakes to Avoid

By Mike Bleech


There is a line of thinking that tells anglers to be patient, to wait for the fish to start hitting. That’s a load of baloney.

Countless articles have told you the things you should do while fishing for trout. Now look at this from another perspective. Here are seven things you should not do while fishing for trout.

1.  Don’t wear bright, colorful clothing. Anything that stands out just serves to make you more visible to the trout. Especially avoid red, orange, yellow, purple, blue and any fluorescent colors.


Don’t wear bright colors along a trout stream.
Especially avoid loud colored hats.

Most important, never, ever wear those bright colors on your head or upper torso. Those are the parts of your body that trout can see first. Forget about looking good. Never try to stand out. Quite the opposite, blend in with your surroundings just like a bowhunter might do.

2.  Don’t use over-size hooks. Never use hooks that can’t be at least partially hidden by the bait. Fine wire hooks usually are just right for trout fishing. Overly large hooks will kill your bait. Even if you are not using live bait, big hooks will tear any bait apart.

3.  Don’t forget your hook hone. Bring it, or a file, or whatever you prefer for sharpening hooks. During fishing seminars I usually begin by guaranteeing that I can double the number of fish everyone will catch. Then I explain how to sharpen hooks. For small hooks that are usually used for trout fishing, make the point needle sharp. Larger hooks may need knife-like edges.


Mike used a stick bait that dives a little deeper than most to tempt this nice brown trout.

4.  Don’t stand in one place if you are fishing in a lake, unless you are catching fish with a good deal of regularity. Trout move. Trout tend to be scattered. Only rarely do trout hold in one place for long periods of time. Even if something is holding trout in a specific location, all the trout in a lake will not be there, and soon either all of the trout in that location will be caught, or more likely, at some point the trout that remain will stop hitting for one reason or another.

Of course you stay in one position as long as trout are hitting there. Move along after a few unproductive casts.

5.  Don’t focus only on likely looking spots. If your tactic is casting artificial lures, fan-cast. This means casting one direction, say to the left, then cast farther to the right in small increments. Do this until you have covered all of the water you can reach from that position. Then move along the shoreline to another position that is just far enough so that you are casting to fresh water, and repeat the process.

6.  Don’t be patient. Patience wastes time. There is a line of thinking that tells anglers to be patient, to wait for the fish to start hitting. That’s a load of baloney, unless you know with absolute certainty that there are trout within casting distance, and even then only if you are very limited in how far you can move, or if you are afraid of losing a good position to other anglers.


A flopping brown trout rewarded Jeri Bleech for carrying red worms along the trout stream.

7.  Don’t travel light. No extra weight. No extra bulk. Right? All you really need is your favorite spinner. Just the essentials.  Right? No. That could not be more wrong.

Trout are famous for being finicky. One of the surest ways to enjoy consistent success is to carry a well-stocked fishing vest. In fact, the more you can carry, the better.

In the artificial lure department, carry spoons, spinners and small stick baits. You should have a variety of colors of each type. Have some that run at different depths. This is most important if you fish lakes. Carry as many baits as you can manage. You should have at least three different types of salmon eggs, a few types of artificial baits like Powerbait, which is available in several colors. A couple kinds of grubs and some red worms will make you a complete angler, almost. To round it out, carry either live or salted minnows.

So really, the things you should not do are merely the flip side of what you should do – and a perspective that will help you to remember better.


About Mike Bleech:

mike-bleech-head-shotMike Bleech has been a full-time freelance writer/photographer since 1980 with more than 5,000 articles published in more than 100 publications. He is the outdoors columnist for the Erie Times-News and the Warren Times Observer. His home waters for trout fishing are hundreds of miles of wild and stocked streams on the Allegheny National Forest.

For more articles by Mike Bleech, click here.
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2 Responses to Trout Fishing: Seven Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Andrew says:

    Learn to fly fish and put the gear down. And lay off gill raking them trout.

  2. Harry Moran says:

    A trout doesn’t know what a hook is nor does it know there is a fisherman on the other end of the line. Splashing with poor casts, movement, shadows, and things like that spook trout, including wearing bright colors. Trout are afraid of predators, not hooks and lines.
    Some midge flies I use are not much more than a hook with a little thread and dubbing on the top half and trout take them.

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