How to Catch Trout in a Pond

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Trout is a popular game fish that provides an excellent challenge for the recreational angler. 

Pond-fishing for trout is a satisfying sport and great for acquiring and practising angling skills. 

A well-stocked trout pond is all the reason you need to grab your tackle and head out for a day by the water’s edge.

There, you can enjoy a lazy afternoon by the pond with family, or get your first taste of fly-fishing as part of a hosted corporate day.

Catching trout in a pond is suitable for anglers of all ages and abilities. 

If you are new to fishing for trout in a pond, this article will provide the basics on how to catch trout in a pond, including tackle, technique, the trout species you can fish and where you’ll find them.

Stocked ponds are popular with anglers who are keen to practice their skills

Stocked ponds are not as artificial as you think. These ponds become thriving ecosystems with abundant insect life and smaller fish species that the trout hunt and feed on.

With a natural diet, comes natural behavior meaning that catching these trout is a satisfying challenge.

stocking a pond with trout
Man restocking a pond with trout

Their familiarity and appetite for flies make these trout apt targets for fly-fishers, with many trout in artificial lakes and ponds responding well to imitative, subsurface, and dry flies.

Trout thrive in ponds

You may think of trout as being a fish of lake and stream, but still waters like ponds and lakes can be a natural habitat of trout.

This freshwater fish species has a very wide distribution and can adapt successfully to any body of water that provides clean water, food (insects, minnows and crawfish being favourites), and decent cover where they can hide from predators (and anglers). 

You can fish a variety of trout species in stocked ponds

There is an art to stocking trout ponds, but typical trout species in ponds are brook trout and rainbow trout. 

Rainbow trout are particularly popular for pond and lake fishing because of their behaviour, which includes leaping, plus they taste great!

pond trout

Brook trout are a little shyer but tolerate colder temperatures and lower oxygenation. 

As long as food sources are abundant, fish in a stocked pond will get on well, but if there is competition or limited food, cannibalism can occur, with larger trout eating smaller fish. 

Pond dwelling make these trout a distinct challenge

Trout in still water have distinct behaviours and hideouts compared to those that live in moving waters.

Even though the water is not moving, pond trout are very active, cruising the water for smaller fish and insects to eat or darting into the vegetation to escape the heat or predation.

This means that you will have to tailor your angling tactics to the manners of these still water fish. 

Where can you find trout in a pond?

If you are fishing trout in a pond, you will almost certainly come across guides or veterans of 

the pond that can point out the lurking places where you will find the largest trout. Common locations of trout in stocked ponds include:

  • Aquatic vegetation
  • Inlet streams
  • Fallen or submerged logs and tree stumps
  • Rocks
  • Deeper, cooler water on a hot summer’s day

The level of activity you will encounter will also depend on the time of year, elevation and weather. Of course one of the best times to head over to a pond is in autumn when it is being restocked and the water is cooler.

Overcast weather, though inclement, also brings out the fish and for the brave, these ponds can be fished all year round.

Tackle for trout fishing in a pond

Fishing trout in a pond does not require fancy or overly technical gear. A basic rod, reel, hooks and some lures or bait are more than enough to land a fish.

If you are heading to a trout farm to catch your fish, you probably will be able to hire gear if you do not have your own. Here’s a closer look at the basic trout fishing gear:

  • A spinning rod: this versatile, flexible rod is designed to be used with a spinning reel which is held under the rod.
  • A spinning reel: great for beginners, the spool of spinning reels make casting lures and baits easy. These reels also have an adjustable drag for when you have a bite and need to fight the fish. 
  • Monofilament line: this is a great affordable fishing line. Mono is easy on beginner anglers because it is smooth, strong, knots well and casts easily. 
  • Spinners: these are great, basic fishing lures for trout. Spinnerbait lures have metal blades that spin while the lure moves, creating flash and vibration that attract the trout. Rainbow trout are particularly excited by 1/16 oz. silver spinner blades, lake trout are partial to gold coloured blades.
  • Bait hooks: bait hooks are a type of coarse fishing hook that can be used to secure a variety of bait. They come in various sizes with many bait hooks carrying barbs on the shank and bend of the hook to keep live bait like worms in place.
  • Bobbers, corks, or floats: you need a bobber to keep your bait suspended at the perfect depth for where your fish are feeding. The movement of the bobber will let you know when you have a bite.
  • Bait: Rainbow trout are particularly partial to powerbait, brightly coloured and scented putty bait. Alternatives include power eggs, mice tails and worms.
  • Lead split shot: you use this small metal ball that is partially cut through its diameter to weigh down your line and set your float so that it is partially submerged. It can also be tied below or above the fly pattern to get it into feeding zones better. 

This is a great starter kit for fly fishing in ponds or rivers available on Amazon:

Alternatively, you can push the boat out and give fly fishing a try. The kit is more technical and you will require streamside tools but here are the essentials for a beginner:

  • A fly rod: these rods are specifically designed for casting artificial flies. You are probably familiar with the visuals of casting a fly, as these rods are thinner than regular rods and highly flexible. 
  • A fly reel: fly reels are simpler than other types of reels and have to be hand-wound with fly line and backing. 
  • Fly line: fly line is essential for fly fishing and has a composite structure and forward weighting to deliver the lightweight fly to the area you want it. 
  • Monofilament leaders: Unlike the fly line this is a single-stranded nylon line that is attached to the end of the fly line at one end and the tippet at the other. Some anglers will tie their fly directly to the end of the leader. 
  • Tippet: the tippet is a shorter length of mono line that one or multiple flies are attached to.
  • Flies: Choose from dry flies, nymphs and streamers. 
    • Dry flies float on the surface of the water
    • Nymphs are submerged
    • Streamers are designed to imitate the movements and visuals of leeches, or minnows so that the trout will try to eat them whole. 

How to catch trout in a pond: step by step

With the right gear and tackle in hand, catching your first trout in a pond or lake is only a matter of time.

Unlike a stream that has current to drift your bait, in a pond you are simply floating or submerging the bait and letting it sit.

Here is an outline of the basic steps:

  1. Prepare your rod and reel

Attach the reel to the rod and pull the line out to thread through the guides along the length of the rod. 

  1. Set up your rig by taking your bait (minnow or worm) and attaching it to a bait hook. The hook is tied to the line with an improved clinch knot. A lead weight to be just above the hook to help it sink. 
  1. Suspend your bait under a float or bobber. 

The cork or bobber can be added between one and three feet above the bait so that the bait is suspended for the fish to feed. The bobber is secured by threading the line through the top and bottom hooks. 

  1. Casting your bait

Choose a spot where you think the trout are lurking and cast the bait out. Remember to stop excess line from coming out by turning the reel crank forward and then reeling in the line to the point where the bobber just moves slightly.

  1. Wait for a bite from a trout

You will know you have a bite when you see the bobber move or frankly go underwater. 

  1. Set the hook

A quick upward lift of the rod should set the hook in the trout’s mouth. Be gentle.

  1. Reel in your trout

You can pick up the fish by hand or get a friend to net it for you. 

If you are fishing in deeper water, you can dispense with the bobber and use the lead weight to sink your bait. The lead will sink, but the bait hook will float above it.

If you opt for fly fishing or use a spinner, you want to cast it repeatedly over trout habitats. Leave it for a few moments and can gradually retrieve it, reeling it in. Vary the speed of retrieval to see what works to lure the fish. 

trout fishing

Rounding up

Catching trout in ponds offers year-round recreational angling, and often, a good supper too. It is a great way to learn the basics of angling and study the behavior of fish.

You can use the skills you build up by angling in stocked trout ponds and lakes, to fish in rivers or at sea.