How to Catch Cutthroat Trout in a Lake: Learn from Experts

September 24, 2021

If you’re an angler who wants a good challenge and the promise of a delicious taste, you may have considered fishing for cutthroat trout at some point. This widely distributed fish can be found in both salt and lake waters. But, in this article, we’ll focus more on how to catch cutthroat trout in a lake.

With our step-by-step guide, getting your hands on this stubborn trout shouldn’t seem so far-fetched after all!

Now, are you ready to dive in?

Step 1: Look for Cutthroat Trout in the Right Places

Yes, you’ll be fishing in a lake, but that doesn’t exactly narrow down your search, right?

One of the first things you should know before dropping your bait in the water is the perfect spot where cutthroat trout is more likely to be. This fish has a tendency to hide and wait for the right opportunity to catch its prey. Therefore, your best bet is to focus on locations that offer hideouts.

For example, you’ll have a high chance of capturing cutthroat trout near log jams, boulders, root wads, eddies, and the like. 

Step 2: Choose the Perfect Timing

Another important factor that you should pay attention to is the time of the year and the time of the day. Just like any fish or animal in the world, cutthroat trout has seasonal habits that will have you change your fishing game accordingly.

Best Time of the Year to Catch Cutthroat Trout

old man fishing in lake

Even though cutthroat trout can be caught at any time of the year, the difference in temperature and weather can affect its behavior. For instance, when the water heats up on hot summer days, the fish tend to move deeper underwater to stay as cool as possible.

As a result, you’ll have to use fishing techniques designed for deeper water.

Ultimately, the best time to fish for cutthroat trout is from April to October. You can also try catching one in winter, but you’ll have to wait for an especially warm day so that the fish is near the water’s surface.

Best Time of the Day to Catch Cutthroat Trout

According to professional anglers, the most promising time of the day to capture this fish is early morning. This period extends from dawn all the way until two hours after sunrise.

You can also go trout fishing in the late afternoon, preferably three hours before sunset and until dusk. If you’re not a morning person, this time will probably be more convenient!

Step 3: Make Up Your Mind About Bait and Lures

One of the best things about cutties is that they have a diverse diet, meaning that you can draw their attention using a large variety of lures and bait. This is fantastic news for those who are skilled in either lure or bait fishing exclusively.

Now, let’s take a look at the best bait and lure you should go for to catch cutthroat trout.

Best Bait for Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat trout loves to feast on salmon eggs, which should be your number one choice. Ultimately, cutties can neglect other types of bait and lures and dive straight for their favorite salmon eggs.

Just simply float an egg sack on the water surface and wait until the fish start coming.

Another good candidate for cutthroat trout is trout-flavored powerbait. It’s another option that’s favored by professional anglers, not to mention that it’s more mainstream than salmon eggs.

Last but not least, why don’t you consider offering your trouts a delicious, wholesome meal of nightcrawlers? These worms are hard to resist for the majority of fish species, and they’re widely available in general stores.

The cutthroat trout will also like to munch on beetles, minnows, and leeches.

Best Lures for Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout caught

If you’re a lure type of person who isn’t exactly a fan of live bait, this section is for you. There aren’t specific types of lures to grasp a trout’s attention. Still, you may want to choose something radiant and sparkly for better results.

The Blue Fox Classic Vibrax is one that we highly recommend. It produces vibrations while also spinning, making it hard to ignore by any nearby trout. To get the desired effects, go for light blue, silver, or green colors.

Another option that we like is Yakima Bait Spinner Lure. Its unique design can allow an angler to project it farther than most lures, which should be suitable for an intense battle with a trout. Again, pick from blue, green, or silver to catch a cutthroat trout.

Some people recommend using spoons and spinners to lure in an unsuspecting cutthroat trout. Go for ⅛ ounce to ¼ ounce spoons or size #2 to #3 spinners. Of course, catching trouts with these lures requires advanced skills, so they may not be the best choice for beginners.

Step 4: Consider Fly-Fishing

If you want to add some excitement to your experience, why don’t you consider fly-fishing? A lot of anglers use this technique instead of old-school lures or live bait to flex their skills while catching as many fish as they can. Maybe it’s time that you gave it a shot!

Fortunately, attracting cutthroat trouts to the surface can be pretty easy since they’ll respond to various types of flies.

For example, going for dry fly patterns is an excellent idea. Use any dry fly on the market as long as it has a nice shimmer to its body. Soon enough, it’ll tempt a trout to come racing to the surface.

Nymph patterns are also great for this purpose. Choose a fly that’ll quickly snatch a trout’s attention underwater and dip it in the lake so it’ll be instantly noticeable. Then, move it higher and keep it in a floating position until a trout comes up to snatch it.

While many fishermen believe that streamer patterns don’t work with cutthroat trouts, this isn’t entirely true. These trouts will occasionally be drawn to streamers, although not as much as the previous two patterns. Therefore, going for a streamer pattern may be worth a try if you’d like.

Step 5: Pick Your Rod

When fishing for cutthroat trouts, you can use a 4 or 5 weight rod. The size of the rod mainly depends on how large or small the lake is and how big the fish is.

A 4 weight rod should be excellent for use with small to medium-sized trouts. It should also be perfect for a more limited body of water. On the other hand, a 5 weight rod is a better option for larger fish and lakes since it allows you to cast further.

7 weight rods are for more heavy-duty scenarios like using heavy streamer patterns.

Step 6: Try Different Fishing Techniques

Holding a Cutthroat Trout

The thing with cutthroat trout fishing is that you may need to apply more than one tactic until you catch the fish. You can apply different techniques back-to-back or try them all until you find your favorite to use alone every time you go fishing.

Here are a few things you can try.

  • Use a Stimulator dry fly if natural stoneflies are nearby to trick the fish into biting
  • When fishing in brackish water, go for fly patterns that imitate ocean bait fish such as shrimp and salmon
  • Make sure you have a huge variety of imitator-type patterns for nymphs and dries
  • When fishing in early spring, focus on shallow lake water and cast several times in the same area

Can I Catch Cutthroat Trout in Rainy Weather?

In theory, you can capture a cutthroat trout in any sort of weather since this fish will still look for food anytime. Still, fishing in heavy rain, or even immediately after it’s over, isn’t a great idea.

In these conditions, the lake water will get muddy pretty fast, keeping the fish from seeing whatever bait you’re offering. So, it’s best to save your efforts until the lake water has cleared enough.

How Do I Identify Cutthroat Trout?

Cutthroat trouts are pretty easy to recognize thanks to their eye-catching coloring and patterns. These fish usually have a yellow, orange, or red streak on each side of the body.

On the other hand, the body itself can range from bluish and silvery hues to olive and yellowish-green tones. Another telltale mark of a cutthroat trout is the black spots that cover the entire length of its body.

To Wrap It Up

Cutthroat trout is both beautiful and hard to capture. Naturally, this makes catching it a dream of many anglers across the country. Let’s not forget that this fish is the star of so many tasty recipes that you must try!

Hopefully, after learning how to catch cutthroat trout in a lake, you can experience the thrill of this adventure yourself. It may take some trial and error, and you’ll probably need time to develop a good fishing technique.

Still, with patience and practice, you should be able to master enough skills to catch cutthroat trout. So, are you ready to start this action-packed journey?

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