Will Trout Bite at Night? The Giants Come Out To Play

Last update:
A guy standing in the water fishing during night time.

Trout bite at night. While they don’t always feed in the ways you see during the day, they eat. The smaller trout stick to cover and structure and wait for easy meals while the giants roam the shallows for meals that fill their appetites. At night, trout are busy. 

Once the sky goes dark, the animal kingdom transitions. The daytime boldness and behaviors change to wariness and skepticism. Trout stay active during the night, but the trophy trout rule the water. They’re less fearful of predators and eager to find large meals. 

Will Rainbow Trout Bite at Night

On one of my first fishing excursions in the Driftless Region in the Midwest, I went night fishing for trout. We had the potential to land brown, brook, and rainbow trout. After throwing our mouse up along the bank a few times, I heard a small splash and a strong tug at my line. A few minutes later, I had a beautiful 18-inch rainbow trout in my net. 

Depending on where you’re fishing, what predators are in the water, and the size of the rainbow, you’ll find that rainbow trout bite at night. They aren’t as active as during the morning and evening hatches, but rainbow trout bite at night.

At night, they wait for the perfect opportunity to leave safety and grab the meal. The bigger rainbows have less fear. You’ll find them looking for mice, smaller trout, crustaceans, and small mammals in a few feet of water. If they know they won’t become prey, trout venture into open water to feed. 

One of the best times to fish for rainbow trout at night is during the peak of the summer. Trout slow their movements when the air and water temperatures rise during the day. They catch up on their feeding once the sun goes down and temperatures drop. 

Trout getting ready to lay eggs in a stream. Pretty fish in a close-up pic. Photo taken underwater in the wild. Home in a mountain creek.

Will Brown Trout Bite at Night

Brown trout are some of the most aggressive night feeders in the trout family. I spent many nights in the Black Hills of South Dakota swinging large streamers through seams and shallow pools, waiting for a trophy brown. 

Like rainbow trout, the smaller brown trout aren’t as aggressive at night unless they know they won’t become food for a larger trout or other fish. Look for brown trout sitting up against rocks and fallen logs at night. They hug cover and structure to ensure they don’t put themselves in too much danger. 

Browns of all sizes rarely need to sit in the deepest part of the water at night. They’ll sit in the shallows and do most of their feeding there. They move out of the deepest parts of pools and sit closer to the edges to make feeding easier. 

Will Brook Trout Bite at Night

The Driftless Region in Wisconsin and Minnesota is famous for its native brook trout. Many brook trout landed throughout the mornings and evenings don’t exceed 10-12 inches. They’re beautiful fish but don’t get the adrenaline pumping like those 12-16-inch brook trout. While trophy brook trout are hard to find, the only ones I’ve landed are at night. 

Brook trout are extremely aggressive and reach their maximum in the dark. A trout stream filled with brook trout is more fun to fish at night than during the day. Even though they’re not the largest trout species, they give all other species a run for their money with their aggression. 

Swinging a streamer or throwing a large dry pattern is one of the best ways to get brook trout to strike at night. Other anglers have success swinging larger non-weighted nymphs. Many trout feed above themselves at night, so you don’t have to focus as much on bouncing a nymph along the bottom. 

Will Cutthroat Trout Bite at Night

My first Idaho fishing experience began with a night fishing session for cutthroat trout. We arrived at our campsite late at night, but couldn’t wait to wet a line. We all had different topwater patterns, and one good cast into a seam led to a 16-inch cutthroat right off the bat. 

We stayed up and fished for a few hours because of the hot bite. It was one of the most memorable fishing experiences of my entire life. 

Cutthroat trout keep the same behaviors as their other trout relatives. The giants roam the shallows and pursue larger meals, and the smaller cutthroats pick and choose their opportunities to expose themselves to open water. 

The bite likely won’t be as consistent at night, but you always have a chance at catching a trophy.

Will Lake Trout Bite at Night

Whether you’re ice fishing or open-water fishing, the lake trout bite can get hot at night. If lake trout see food, they don’t pass on it. Lake trout are some of the most opportunistic feeders in the trout family. Since they often have to travel for food (unlike their other trout relatives who live in rivers and streams), they know the value of finding a bait pod or a school of smaller fish. 

If you can find multiple lake trout in an area, you can catch them at all times of the day. They’re constantly cruising through the water and looking for easy meals. Take advantage of the time of day when they see the least pressure. 

Angler in stream catches fish with a fly at dawn.

Can Trout See at Night

During the night, trout only use the rods in their eyes. They don’t use their cones. 

The rods in trout’s eyes allow them to see differences between objects. The shapes change, but the colors stay the same. Anglers who throw larger baits that stick out in the water have a better chance of catching fish. 

Plus, the activated rods give trout more confidence at night. They don’t have the luxury of being picky, so if something looks appetizing, they eat it. 

Trout have phenomenal peripheral vision, even at night. They can always see to the sides and in front of them. At night, their rods work to differentiate between rocks, weeds, food, and other objects. 

Brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, tiger trout, and various other trout species share the same night vision. All rely on their cones to differentiate between the shapes they see in the water. 

Trout don’t have as much time to study their potential food sources at night. If something looks like food, they move. The large trout have far less concern than the smaller fish. Large trout aren’t easy targets for predators, so they’ll spend time in shallow water going after whatever looks appetizing. 

Colorful fish swim in a clear creek - a close-up look at nature's rainbow trout habitat.

Do Trout Sleep at Night

Trout rest at night. They don’t close their eyes and doze off for a few hours like us humans, but they do slow movement and relax. Some fish float in place and slow their metabolism, while others cruise around looking for food.

The smaller trout find cover or structure they can fit within and wait for the morning light. Larger trout move around and don’t have as much worry about relaxing. They often spend the days slowing their metabolism and waiting for the darker hours to feed. 


Trout are active feeders. Mornings and evenings are the best times to find consistent bites because of the changes in light and insect hatches. However, there’s almost always a solid night bite for trout. The giant fish that didn’t move as much during the day or the more comfortable conditions bring out the hungry trout. 

Danny Mooers Avatar


Leave a Comment