Where to find trout in pools & lakes - Part 2
Shallow beach areas can be a significant source of food for trout at various times of the year.
During Summer many small baitfish spawn in the sun-warmed shallows. Trout feed voraciously on this bounty. Finding fish when they are chasing shoals of baitfish is hunting, and is covered in the [Lake Beach and Shoreline] chapter.
Shallow beaches are also a place where some nymphs and larvae crawl from the depths to dry land to change into their winged form. Trout often patrol sections of shallow beaches, intercepting nymphs as they crawl toward the dry land.
Swamp and Surface Weed
Swamp plants and weed beds that reach the surface are prime feeding areas. It is a literal hothouse of insect activity. Many species of insects and baitfish live and breed in the rich ‘soup’ of plankton and minute vegetation held in weed beds and around the base of swamp plants.
The plants are also prime feeding grounds for snails, which trout will feed on. Shrimps and crustaceans also live around the base of weeds and swamp plants. Many baitfish breed in the comparative safety of these areas.
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In the mud that is usually found under these weed beds and around the base of swamp plants many worms and insects feed on the decaying vegetation. Many of these worms and insects are air breathing and must swim to the surface periodically to breathe. Trout pick them off on the journey.
Trout tend to move in and out of weed and swamp plant areas. Very often because there is little water movement, oxygen levels are lower than in more open water. In summer, water temperatures in these areas can become too warm for a trout to spend extended time feeding there.
Outcrops of land, points that jut out into the body of the water, or in smaller water, fallen trees and the like provide a break in the contour of the edge of the pool and lake. These ‘breaks’ provide a concentration of currents, and a concentration in feed movements.
These obstructions can also concentrate wind pushed surface-feed into more concentrated wind ‘vanes’.
In larger lakes the prevailing wind can set up small but significant currents. Any outcrops that intersect these currents will concentrate feed.
Underwater Obstructions and Features
Reefs, rocks, boulders and downed or drowned trees provide cover for feed, and where feed is concentrated there or thereabouts trout will be found.
Vegetation or overhanging banks can provide both cover and food. Both can provide a source of terrestrial insects that can be blown into the water in high winds.
Anywhere there is a sudden change in the slope of the bottom, particularly in lakes, is a prime area for finding trout. These drop-offs are particularly productive if they can be found where a river or stream enters a lake.
But when trolling, following along the edge of a drop-off is an often successful tactic. Look for colour changes to indicate depth changes, darker is deeper.
In most lakes water temperature varies between the surface and the depths, as might be expected. The sun warms the lake’s surface water, but deeper, where the rays cannot penetrate, the water is cooler.
But this change in temperature is often not gradual.
Water in deeper lakes can often be in distinct temperature layers – layers of distinctly different temperature (thermoclines). These temperature ‘breaks’ often hold plankton, which congregate baitfish, which attract trout.
At other times trout may hold in a cooler water layer, when the layer above is warmer, moving into the warmer water for short periods to feed.
There is another natural phenomenon that can occur to do with temperature. Sometimes a sudden cold snap can rapidly chill the surface of a lake holding warmer water in a layer below it. In a prolonged cold snap the warm water can be held below the cold layer for up to months over winter.
When things warm up in the air, and usually following a period of high winds, an ‘inversion’ occurs. That is when the warmer water below breaks through the cold layer and replaces it at the surface. This inversion carries with it large amounts of plankton and baitfish, and trout can be seen feeding actively on or near the surface.
Finding temperature breaks can be a key to catching trout in a lake.
The process of finding trout lies, or places they are likely to lie, is called ‘Reading the Water’. There is an excellent article on reading the water on the Midcurrent site.