Trout Utilize Shade Year Round and So Should Anglers

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Trout use shade for multiple reasons, not just for cooler water in the summer. Photo Louis Cahill

When fly anglers bring up the topic of targeting shade in conversation for catching trout, most of the time they’re talking about doing it during the dog days of summer.

Although it’s true that trout will regularly seek out shade (for cooler water) when water temperatures are elevated, it’s not the only time nor reason trout utilize it. Trout also use shade to camouflage themselves from both predators and the prey they feed on. If you don’t agree with me, tell me if it’s easier to spot a trout in the sun or in the shade. Trout understand this, and that’s why they often gravitate towards it on sunny days, even during the colder months of the year. The third reason trout search out shade is to cut down on the glare in their eyes, so they can spot drifting food in the current more effectively.

I was on the water the other day guiding and it was forty degrees with water temperatures in the upper 30s. The majority of the trout we caught were located in the shade, and the main reason for that was the blue bird sky conditions we had. It concentrated the trout in deep water and in the shadows of logs, boulders and overhanging foliage. If we wouldn’t have combed the shady areas with our flies, it could have turned out ugly for my client and I.

Remember the importance of shade next time you’re on the water with sunny conditions trout fishing. Pay close attention also to the shadows that are cast across the surface of the water from trees. Trout use this form of shade cover nearly as much as the rest I mentioned.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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8 thoughts on “Trout Utilize Shade Year Round and So Should Anglers

    • I love the low side arm cast for just that reason. Getting under low overhanging branches on the shoulders of a stream. It’s rare to not see any action in those areas.

  1. So here is a funny one. I was fishing last week on our only nice warm day this year so far…. MOst of ouor fish came form skinny water in the sun. Water temp was 39F, and I gotta believe that they were out sunning to keep from freezing! Unless there was another factor there- feeding or something. But generally, I’m targeting shade. This day was different.

  2. Just this past weekend on the Davidson I noticed a lot of trout on the upper section, some being very big, tucked close to the bank under shade. This was not optimal water by any means, most being only inches deep. But it provided them some cover in water that gets a lot pressure on a daily basis.

  3. Well its official, trout and ducks are alike. Blue bird skies are the hall mark for great days as my best days with both have been on bright blue skies. I know its something about glare off the water for ducks when the sun’s out that makes it tougher for them to see so they blindly commit to a hole(aka humans calling) and I’ve just plain caught more fish on nice days. Maybe some science will intervene. Maybe this is the reason duck hackle makes such great trout flies?

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