Trout Fishing with Corn: How to Use Corn to Catch Trout 

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Fishing stick, twirly wire, and dish of maize to catch fish.

I get it, folks. Corn sounds like a silly, simple gimmick for catching fish. I remember scoffing at the idea and judging the corn-baited fishermen next to me. That is until I tried it on a lake with a bunch of middle school kids. 

Corn is cheap, easy to carry, and simple to rig. Most importantly, it is effective and popular among fishermen nationwide. In fact, the first time I used corn when fishing, I couldn’t believe the money I saved and the fish I caught. 

Do Trout Like Corn? 

Corn may sound like an old-timer trick, but outdoorsmen still discuss its effectiveness. Trout are opportunistic and careful eaters. But lucky for us simple folk, they love corn for a few reasons. 

  1. The bright yellow appearance can attract trout or nearby fish.
  2. Many people believe that trout are attracted to corn’s scent. 
  3. Corn replicates pellets consumed in hatcheries. This makes corn appealing and safe to trout. 
  4. Corn’s most appealing characteristic is that it is subtle. It will land in the water with little interruption and has a natural drift to entice picky trout.
Poland's spring catch: Brown trout on a fly.

Types of Corn for Trout Fishing

So, now that you know corn is an option for trout fishing, which type is best? 

Scented (Garlic) Corn 

If you’re going to fish with corn, I recommend garlic-scented corn. 

There are a couple of options to get garlic corn. Use dry garlic powder and mix it with your corn on the spot. Or, create an overnight marinade. Many anglers have used the second method to create a precise, homemade recipe for fish. 

If you don’t want the work or hassle of a homemade cure, try pre-made corn. Dyes and scents are used to elicit strong reactions from trout.

Look at Green Giant corn cans in a store.

Canned/Sweet Corn

You can’t go wrong with a simple can of sweet corn from the grocery store. This corn is inexpensive, easy to carry, scented, and simple to hook. The brand of canned corn is your choice and any shoepeg corn will do. 

Artificial Corn

Believe it or not, artificial corn is available in bait and tackle shops. These seem unnecessary to me as the higher price is hard to justify.

Dry-Feed Corn 

Dry-feed corn is the last and perhaps least popular option. Dry-feed corn can be effective, but it requires a lot of preparation to ensure it is soft and scented. The good news? Dry-feed corn is the least expensive. 

Does Corn Kill Trout? 

There is an ongoing debate about whether corn kills trout. Research shows that corn doesn’t kill trout but is difficult for them to digest. If any fish kills happen with corn-baited hooks, it’s due to the hook being swallowed, not the bait. 

Refrain from practicing catch and release if you are fishing with corn. There is a higher risk of the fish swallowing the hook, causing damage and, most likely, death. 

Is it legal to fish with corn? 

According to our research, every state besides Rhode Island allows fishermen to use corn as trout bait. But not all states let fishermen chum for trout with corn, so be sure to check your local regulations. 

Rigging Corn for Trout

As long as you have the right gear, rigging your corn is very easy. Here are the steps: 

  1. Using a #10 hook and 2-3 kernels of corn, poke each kernel through the hook’s point. 
  2. Slide each kernel toward the eye of the hook so the hook’s shaft is covered. 
  3. Use 2-4lb. monofilament or fluorocarbon line to tie to the hook. 
  4. Krimp one to two split-shot weights 6-8 inches above your hook. Add more weight to ensure your bait reaches your desired depth if needed. 

I do not recommend using a bobber with this setup since bobbers can spook trout. Learning to read fish bites (or strikes) without a bobber is also valuable for various trout fishing techniques.

How to Fish with Corn

Whether fishing a lake or river, cast your corn to your target location with a sidearm, underhand, or overhead cast. I recommend a sidearm or underhand delivery, as these casts tend to have soft, subtle landings. 

After your hook hits the water, reel in some slack and allow the hook to drift through the water’s current. If you feel your hook “ticking” at the bottom, you are at a perfect depth! If you feel the hook dragging the bottom, lighten your split shot. 

Watch your line: it will tighten or twitch if a trout has taken your corn. If you’re struggling to detect strikes, you can also use a fly fishing indicator on your line. I recommend a Palsa Pinch On Indicator. Pinch-on indicators react to subtle bites and do not disturb the water’s surface. 

Best Time to Use Corn 

Anglers recognize springtime as the best time to use corn for trout. With warming water temperatures, trout are more inclined to move and feed. This time of year also washes out bugs and nymphs for high-feeding activity. 

But don’t overlook fall as a time to use corn. During this time of year, trout become more aggressive and eat anything in front of them. A kernel of corn could resemble eggs, which is a common food for trout. 

Best Place To Use Corn

If you’re fishing for stocked trout, throw on a kernel of corn. States within the U.S. are loaded with ponds and lakes filled with rainbow trout that are perfect for corn. Since corn resembles pellets used for feed in hatcheries, rainbow trout flock to them!

Final Thoughts

Consider corn if you’re looking for an inexpensive and effective bait for catching trout. Corn’s scent can entice picky trout, especially during spring and fall. 

Sure, you might get a few odd looks from other fishermen when you whip out a can of corn. But believe me, those looks tend to disappear after you start catching fish.

David Linsmeyer Avatar


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