Best Time To Fish For Trout In Summer: 4 Best Times

Best time to fish trout in summer

There are certain times of the day when a trout’s feeding activity increases, and in the summer, these feeding windows are very limited. As a trout guide, I have determined the best time to fish for trout in the summer so I can keep my clients fishing at the optimal times and keep them catching more trout.

In the summer, I plan my guide trips based on several factors which determine when trout should be feeding.

Normally, the best time to fish for trout in the summer is first thing in the morning until about 11 am or again at dusk. This is because of cooler water temperatures. However, there are a few other factors that will determine if these are actually the best times.

  1. Water Temperatures: Water temperatures dictate trout activity, and if the water temps get too warm, the trout will stop feeding. On some rivers, fishing from first light to about 11 am before the water warms up is best.
  2. Bug Activity: Insect hatches on the river can be another feeding time you should be fishing. Summer hatches can be sporadic. However, many rivers have hatch charts that show predictable bug hatches and even the times of days these bugs are likely to show up.
  3. Light Conditions: Many trout will hunker down in deep pools during high sun and will feed at dawn or dusk or on cloudy days. Night fishing for trout can also be good.
  4. During and After Rains: Heavier rains wash nutrients and food into the river, causing an almost artificial hatch, which triggers a feeding frenzy.

Find Cold Water: Know Your River

To catch summer trout consistently, the first thing I want to know is what sections of the river will warm up too much and which sections will stay cold.

I want to know the warm sections so that I can avoid them in the summer and fish them in the winter.

I want to find the cold sections because they will be the most suitable spots within the river system to catch trout in the summer on hot days. These colder areas will often concentrate trout, and concentrated trout compete heavily for limited food, so they are often easier to catch.

During the hottest summer months, the upper headwater sections of many trout streams will stay colder. I also look for spring-fed tributaries that dump cold water into the main river, and I fish close to the month of those tributaries.

I also look for spring upwellings where trout can concentrate to take advantage of the colder water. These spots help the trout survive the hottest summer conditions.

If the river is a tailwater fishery, (meaning a dam produces an artificially cold section below the dam), often the coldest water will close to the base of the dam.

Fish During Peak Times

A streamer caught brown trout caught on one of the best streamer for trout.
Image provided by A Perfect Drift Guide Company

Once you know where the coldest water is, you need to know when is the best time to fish those cold water sections.

On most rivers, the water will start cooling just before dark and will continue to cool overnight, which is why most of the time during the summer, the coldest water is at dawn before the sun has the chance to start warming up the water again.

This is why first thing in the morning when the water is coldest is often the best time to fish for trout in summer on rivers that tend to warm up in the afternoon. Often, the fishing can be good until the sun warms up the river too much which in many areas is between 11 am.

Most of the time you do not need to be on the water testing the temperature every day. Instead, go fish early in the morning on a hot day and check the water temps first thing and then check it every hour afterward, and record it. Over time, you will figure out your river and when it starts to get too hot to fish.

Then do this every time you fish, and within a year or two, you will start to see a pattern that will help you predict the best time to fish for trout in the summer on your favorite river.

On very cold rivers that stay cold all day, try to determine the hatches, as this is often when the trout will be most active.

Get A Good Stream Thermometer

Stream Thermometer
My Thermometer says 57 degrees, which is a great temperature for all trout.

I have tested and compared many of my client’s stream thermometers, and many of the cheaper ones are not very accurate and can be off by 2 to 4 degrees.

An inaccurate thermometer can be a problem. If your thermometer says the water is 65 or 66 degrees when really it’s 68 or 69 (which is when the trout aren’t likely going to bite), then you are wasting your time.

Using a good stream thermometer that gives you accurate readings is important. One thermometer that has always tested accurately for me is the Orvis Encased Thermometer.

Bugs Can Determine The Best Time To Fish For Trout In Summer

A sample of nymphs that I collected from my local trout stream. They are Mayflies and Isopods.
A sample of nymphs that I collected from my local trout stream. They are Mayflies and Isopods.

My years of experience have proven to me that the best time of day to fish for trout in the summer is not always in the morning.

There are numerous helpful hot weather trout fishing tips that can help so you won’t go home empty-handed. However, one of the most important things you should know is that the best time to fish for trout during the summer is often related to bug activity. 

Best Bait For Trout
I took this picture of this trout because it had my nymph and another angler’s Elk Hair caddis fly in its mouth. Flies can be one of the best baits for trout and can be used under a float or bottom bounced.

On rivers that remain cold all day and that have bug hatches that occur throughout the day, the best time to fish for summer trout is when the bug hatches occur, and smart guides and anglers will plan to fish then.

As long as the water temperatures remain cold enough the trout will feed mid-day at the time their food shows up. Knowing when the food shows up is a huge advantage.

If you have hatch charts available for your area, they can be a valuable tool and predictor for the best time to fish in summer, spring, and fall. But if you don’t, talk to the local fly shops, other anglers, or local guides for local intel on when hatches occur.

What Kind Of Weather Is The Best To Fish For Trout In Summer?

fly rod weight for trout
One of my clients fishing in August in a cold spring-fed stream that is shaded most of the day.

The warmer it becomes, the lower the water levels get and the warmer the water can get.

This matters because trout are cold-blooded fish with no eyelids, and they often do not like extreme sun exposure in low-clear water.

For this reason, trout might seek out different sections of the river that have shade or depth, and they may feed less in the high sun.

Why is all this important?

Because of this, it makes sense to choose to fish on days with plenty of cloud cover and avoid the extreme sun and bright lights.

Fishing under cloud cover means that water temperatures will likely also be cooler. If you do fish for trout on a sunny day, at least find a shady area.

When temperatures are high for a prolonged period, like during a heat wave that lasts for many days or weeks, the water temps will be at their warmest, and the trout can shut down during this time so it might be best to avoid fishing during this time.

But if you have weather with cooler temperatures and cooler nights, the fishing can be much better so plan your trips around these cooler weather patterns.

What About Summer Rain?

An angler trout fishing in the rain and releasing a nice brown trout
One of my clients releasing a trout he caught in the rain.

When it rains heavily during summer, the run-off from the rain can wash in lots of bugs and other food into the river.

The rains can also increase the water levels or even make the water less clear, making the trout less cautious. Both an influx of bugs and higher off-colored water can cause a trout-feeding frenzy.

I have seen the trout fishing go from very slow to fantastic after a short but heavy rain. Some of my best big-trout-days are rainy cloudy days. Some of my buddies even plan their fishing days so they can fish on rainy days.

For more information and tactics, read Trout Fishing In The Rain – Is It Better? and Trout Fishing After Rain – Expert Guide Tactics And Tips.

Time Of Day

Head Guide Graham From Trout and Steelhead .net
This is the author with an early morning summer trout. Knowing when and where to fish can significantly improve your chances of catching big trout in the summer.

Because summer water levels can be extremely low and the light penetration from the mid-day sun is tough on the trout, morning and late afternoon and even the first few hours after dark can be a great time to fish simply because it is low light.

What Is The Best Water Temperature To Fish Trout In Summer?

A nice brown trout caught on an articulated streamer fly.
A summertime trout caught by A Perfect Drift Guide Company.

According to experienced trout fishing guides, trout are most active when water temperatures are between 56 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, especially when those temperatures are stable and not going up or down very fast, and I agree.

My personal opinion is that any temperature higher than 69 degrees Fahrenheit is intolerable to trout, and they stop feeding at 68F, so there is no point in fishing for them until the temperature drops.

If you are learning to trout fish or want to get better at it, a good resource is Trout Fishing: A Complete Guide.

You have just read the shortened and revised version: if you want the more in-depth longer version, which includes more of my insights, read it HERE.

If you have a question, comment, or some advice pertaining to the best time to fish for trout in the summer, let me and other readers know in the comments section below.

Tight Lines,



Trout Activity Water Temperature: Trout Optimal Water Temperatures – MyWaterEarth&Sky

Seasonal and diel patterns in activity and habitat use by brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in a small Newfoundland lake | Environmental Biology of Fishes (

(PDF) Nutrition and Feeding of Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (

Seasonal variation in activity and nearshore habitat use of Lake Trout in a subarctic lake | Movement Ecology | Full Text (

Current Research Paper (

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment