One of the most-requested topics on our blog is information about reading water – especially water where trout live. We can’t think of a better expert on fishing for trout than a guy who makes his living knowing where trout live – that would be Chris Price, our manager at Chile West. We asked Chris to write up a primer on reading trout water, and here it is.
Reading Trout Water
The term “ reading the water” does not mean you’re going to see signs that say “ Trout Live Here” or “Cast Here” . The term means to identify the areas where the fish will most likely be congregated, and where…not so much.
Since trout are generally opportunistic feeders, look for areas where the current will bring the food to the fish. Areas that a fish doesn’t have to exert much effort to swim, but will also feel safe in its lie and in a split second can escape harm’s way into the fast current or the deep.
Riffles and Buckets
In the riffle a trout has cover and feels safe – not to mention the fact that food is being washed down to them in the stronger current of the riffle. There are lots of little pockets behind rocks where a fish can hold easily, and then dart out to claim prey as it floats by.
The bucket is that deep spot after the riffle, the place where you can’ t quite see what may be in there. This is a great hiding spot for fish. They will be resting in the not-too-fast or too-slow water. Remember that fish do not like to exert energy, so they probably won’t be out in the fast, heavy water unless they have been spooked.
Seams and Backeddies
Seams and back eddies are also great places that congregate food and thus hold fish, but there’s minimal cover for the fish here so they tend to be spooky.
Along the high banks is also a great places to look for fish. There is usually a lane of slow water between the bank and the fast water where a fish can lay comfortably waiting for the food to float by. Also look for high banks with over-hanging brush or trees. Fish feel very safe here. Food such as terrestrials can fall from the branches and again it is easy for trout to dart out to the seam and back to their lie.
Banks with boulders and boulders in mid-stream are good as well. Boulders create cover and back eddies, which are good lies for fish in heavy, fast water. The boulders create seams and also act as a breakwater against the current, making it easy for a fish to hold.
In front of boulders there is a ‘pillow’ of water. As the current pushes into the boulder, the ‘pillow’ is created which actually pushes back upstream. A fish can easily rest in front of a boulder with an unobstructed view of anything floating downstream.
Don’t spend time fishing unproductive water. Looks for the areas we’ve covered above, and fish ’em well!