The best baits and lures for winter trout fishing

Whether we’re talking about open tail waters and spring fed creeks or frozen lakes, winter trout fishing can be different than what you find in the rest of the year. The weather changes, the water temperature changes, and the feeding patterns of trout can change too. Using the bait baits, lures and flies for the situation can help you catch trout even on the coldest days.

Trout are often described as “cold water fish”. They not only prefer but actually require cold water to survive. Yet they are also cold blooded creatures that do slow down a bit when the water gets very cold.

The magic spot seems to be around 50 degrees for a lot of trout. When the water gets colder than that they slow down. Now that’s more of a generality than a rule, as any one who has been ice fishing for trout can tell you. More than just water temperature goes into trout feeding. Still, there are certain baits, lures and flies that do seem to work better when the water gets cold in the winter. Here’s a list of the best.


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While purists may scoff at it, there can be no doubt that Powerbait Trout Bait is one of the most effective baits ever created for trout. If the trout were born in a hatchery, there is a very good chance they will attack Powerbait Trout Bait as long as you rig it properly. So if catching trout is your goal and you don’t have time for highfalutin fishing philosophies you will probably want to put some Powerbait on your hook.

powerbait floating trout bait

Powerbait works all year round, but it can be especially useful in the winter. At a time when your hands can freeze and fish can be tougher to catch it’s nice to be able to set a rig out there and let the fish come to you.

Whether you are ice fishing, fishing an open pond, or even chasing stocked trout in slower streams and rivers, Powerbait will help you catch fish. I recommend starting with Rainbow Glitter Powerbait as it typically works in most situations. And what if Powerbait isn’t your thing? Well then just read on.

Slender spoon

When it comes to fishing through the ice, the Slender Spoon is one of the best lures ever made. These ultralight and super thin spoons flutter, tumble and shine under the water in a way that just brings in fish. That is especially true of trout. I’ve caught more browns, rainbows and brooks through the ice with the Slender Spoon than I can count. Gold and Firetiger are my favorite colors based on experience. I never go ice fishing without them.

slender spoon

I am an advocate for using ice fishing lures in open water when appropriate. The Slender Spoon is too light to fish from the bank in open water. Yet you can use it from a boat or any other kind of water craft. Jigging a Slender Spoon from a canoe or kayak in winter in a pond that holds trout is a sure way to catch fish when nothing else will work. If you’re read other articles on this website then you already know I really like the Slender Spoons for a variety of applications. These lures come highly recommended!

Chironomid flies

Chironomids (or more accurately chironomidae) are midges. They’re basically little flies that look like mosquitoes but don’t bite humans. They can be found all over. They have an aquatic stage and they’re active all through the year. They’re small and easy to eat, and trout will gorge on them at times. The winter is a time when chironomid larva are active and eaten by trout. So it’s also a great time to fish with chironomid larva flies like the red chironomid bomber.

chironomid fly

Chironomid flies will work in streams, rivers, lakes and ponds. If there are trout around a chironomid fly is a good choice. Dead drift them with the flow of the water or retrieve them very slowly. Experiment with colors and even sizes. I’ve seen big red bombers that are much larger than real midge larva catch fish after fish in some tailwaters. Perhaps it was the pink worm effect. Anyway, it works!

Even if you don’t want to use a fly rod, you can still fish with chironomid flies. It’s basically like drift or float fishing with bait, except you use flies. You can read my article on spin fishing with flies for more information. Some small ice fishing jigs will also work in the same place. I can only imagine that trout mistake lures like the awesome Rat Finkee for chironomid midges, or at least some other kind of small aquatic insect.

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