Do Trout Feed At Night? Nighttime Tricks And Tips 

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Fishing at Night. White Angler on Dock in Fjord.

If you have ever wondered where all the big trout are, consider fishing in the dark. A trout’s picky attitude disappears at night to turn on a feeding frenzy. 

So, if you’re an angler looking for a lifetime catch, overcome your fear of the dark to pursue giant ‘bows.

What Do trout Feed On At Night? 

For such a dainty creature, trout can be serious predators in their watershed, no matter their size. I’ve caught 12-inch trout trying to swallow a 10-inch fish. If you extrapolate that to a 25-incher, you can imagine the type of meals he’s having!

A trout’s predation is clearest at night when dark waters provide protection and camouflage. As a result, bruisers cruise in vulnerable waters they would otherwise avoid.

Nymphs, hatching flies, baitfish, crustaceans, minnows, worms, leeches, and crawlers are all on the table for night-cruising trout. The rule of thumb is simple: It’s dinner time if a trout can detect and fit prey in its mouth. 

Nighttime Baits, Lures, And Flies

In my experience, fishing in a favorite spot at night is helpful. Familiarity will take away the guessing game for finding runs and pools. After selecting your fishery, the only question is, what should I fish with


Bait is an excellent idea for any nighttime fishing because its scent can substitute for the lack of sight. Therefore, worms, minnows, and nightcrawlers are great options for a nighttime raid. 

But you’ll notice that everything is larger when it comes to nighttime fishing for trout. Some people ditch their everyday bait for crayfish, suckers, and shiners. As you can imagine, they intend to catch the trout of a lifetime. 


When it comes to fishing hardware at night, you want lures that will move water. Trout can’t see color in dark water, so they rely on their lateral line to detect vibrations and movement. 

Therefore, spoons, crankbaits, jerk baits, and topwater lures are go-to’s for fishing in the dark. Be sure to pair heavier lures with heavier equipment. Rather than an ultralight rod, size up to a light or medium rod with 8-10 mono, braid, or fluorocarbon. 

I advise trying topwater lures, which offer a couple of advantages. First, fishing on top of the surface means you don’t risk snagging each cast on the river’s bottom. Second, a trout exploding on your lure will stop any midnight drowsiness. 

Fish bait in a plastic case.


Trout eat anything available throughout the night, so a fly fisherman can get away with nymphs, dries, and streamers. I even know a guy who fishes a dry fly at night by listening for the take. He can’t see the sip, but he sure can hear one! 

But my recommendation for night fishing is to throw streamers. This is because fish are less wary at night, meaning giant ‘bows and browns throw caution to the wind to come out and play.

There’s no need to fish deep with your streamer. Cast and retrieve as soon as the fly hits the water. If you feel weight or a sudden tug, rip some line to set the hook. 

Mouse patterns are another contender for big trout. Like streamers, the idea is to smack your fly on the water and immediately strip the line. As the fly returns, its splash will vibrate through the water column to attract nearby monsters. If you hear the water explode, set the hook.

Fancy fishing pole, fake mouse bait!

Nighttime Equipment 

The fish, lures, and equipment are bigger when fishing at night, so it’s best to size up your rod, reel, and line.

A medium rod with an 8- to 12-pound line for conventional gear will be best. If you’re a fly fishing junkie, busting out your 7-8 weight rod will provide better casting performance and bulk for a more significant catch. You can use a sinking fly line, but it’s unnecessary, as fishing in shallow water is effective at night. 

Aside from fishing equipment, a headlamp or flashlight will be handy, but I wouldn’t use it the entire time. Keeping it dark will prevent spooking trout, and your eyes will adjust to their own night vision. 

Related Questions

Do Rainbow Trout Feed At Night? 

Yes, rainbow trout, like other trout species, feed at night when the dark water provides protection and safety. Remember that rainbows remain active throughout the day due to their bug-heavy diet compared to other trout species. This means catching a large rainbow in the daytime is still possible.

Do Brown Trout Feed At Night? 

Night fishing is most famous for brown trout because they prefer hiding in their safe lairs during the day. But as the sun goes down, their greedy palette searches for a bigger meal in the form of baitfish, crayfish, mice, and trout. To net a monster brown trout, consider fishing in the dark.

What Colors Do Trout See At Night? 

Trout do not see colors at night. Instead, their sight distinguishes nearby shapes or contrasting objects. So when fishing at night, you should rely on movement and vibration. This is accomplished with a fly or lure with a defined silhouette and gaudy body. 

What Time Are Trout Most Active? 

Trout are most active in low-light conditions. This makes night, dawn, and dusk hot feeding times. 

But daylight hours do not affect rainbow and brook trout, unlike other trout species. For the angler who hit snooze too many times, you’re in luck: the ‘bows and brookies might still be biting! 

Does Light Scare Trout? 

Light is one way predators detect trout, so trout become wary as the sun rises. This doesn’t mean they’re absent in natural light. It means they are cautious and on constant alert. 

On the other hand, artificial light will spook trout, so night fishers prefer a red light to keep a low but useful illumination. 

Final Thoughts 

Trout love feeding at night because of the dark’s protection and camouflage. As the sun sets, these giants leave their hideaways to hunt baitfish, crayfish, trout, and any available prey. 

Pair your nighttime adventure with a medium rod, 8- to 12-pound line, and large lures. If you’re going to be in the dark, you might as well go big or go home (and sleep).

David Linsmeyer Avatar


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