Header Illustration

Where To Find Trout In Pools & Lakes: Part 1

Lake Wanaka, South Island, NZ

Pools and lakes are primarily distinguished by size.

Where trout lie in pools

The two prime lies have shelter - the bank and water depth - and the currents are compressed as they sweep over to the bank. The fish facing downstream is actually facing into an eddy current swirling off the main flow.

But small pools and even large lakes share the same characteristics - the only differentiating characteristics being size. Studying the dynamics of a pool where it is easy to see all characteristics helps enormously in finding fish in lakes.

Actually while there may be lies in smaller pools – or in those parts of lakes and big pools where current is present - the concept of lies in lakes or large pools with little current is a misnomer.

In rivers and streams food is largely delivered to the trout by the current. In still waters or pools with little current trout have to seek out and hunt their prey. This is an important distinction.

So in large still-waters seeking trout to fish to is in fact finding the small areas within the total area to locate trout.

Finding trout in pools or lakes can be the most difficult task in trout fishing – there are so many variables. The size of the pool or lake, time of year, depth, structure, temperature, food availability, and there is more, all contribute to the difficulties. In fact in pools and lakes it is likely that trout can be found in less than 5% of the water at any one time.

(Article continues below advertisement)

But it is not all bad news.

At the most simplistic level all pools and lakes usually share similar characteristics. As the diagram shows, most pools consist of water coming into the pool, then as the pool deepens the current from this entry water slows, then as the depth of the pool decreases toward the bottom of the pool, the current increases.

But this one-dimensional view will not provide the answers to finding fish on its own.

As the surface size of a pool increases and becomes a lake, so does the number of features found around and in the pool. Shallow areas leading to sand beaches may exist – so may shallow, swampy areas. Some of the pool edges may be overhung with trees. There could be land formations that interrupt the contours of the pool. There may be more streams, or rivers, feeding the pool or lake.

lake and pool formations that hold trout

A simple view of a lake. Water entry is to the left. The deeper blue is the deeper water. There are bulrushes to the top right, and weed beds to the lower right, indicating shallow water.
The trout show places where they might be found.
The two in the middle are over the ‘drop-off’ - where the lake floor drops into deeper water indicated here (and on the water) by a change in colour, darker is deeper.
To the top corner is a reef which will often hold fish.

What is important when looking at lakes and pools is to consider the depth of the water and its underwater structure. A 3-dimensional view needs to be taken.

As the surface area of the pool increases so may the depth, and with increasing depth, there may be new bottom and water features that may help us find fish.

There may be sunken rocks, boulders, logs, and remains of trees. These features provide both cover for predator and prey.

As water shallows there may be areas of weed growth – the breeding grounds for a myriad small creatures which get eaten by bigger creatures, which get eaten by bigger…

Ponds and lakes may all feature various areas where trout may be found.

Water Entry

Any point where a stream or river enters a pool or lake is a prime spot for locating trout. The entering water carries food with it.

Very often, and this is especially important in hot weather, the entering water can provide cooler water. The current from the entering water can concentrate feed for the smaller fish that feed on plankton – smelt, cock-a-bullies etc. Trout feed on these smaller fish.

During high winds shore-bugs can be blown into the lake or pool and the currents around water entry points concentrates this floating feed.

At spawning time, in lakes, trout will mass at entry points waiting for the right conditions to begin their upstream migration. Pools offer migrating fish a rest before fighting their way upstream.

This subject is covered in more detail [here], and [here] (ignore the fact that it is in a chapter on night fishing, the principles apply equally to daytime).

Water Exit

Exit points can also form a significant area to find trout. As water speed increases as it nears to exit point, drifting food is once again concentrated. Any concentration in food is where trout will gather.

Where to find trout in Pools & Lakes - [Part 2]

woolybugger fly Previous Contents Next

Featured article header graphic

Grip and Kill

Bad grip5

The way a trout is held when taking a photo, (aka 'Grip and grin'), can easily turn into 'grip and kill' if the fish is not handled carefully and correctly.

The area above the pectoral fins, (the fins just behind and below the gills) contains the fish's heart and other organs; too much pressure applied to this area can lead to the fish's death.

Read More

For the full story on releasing fish with best chance of survival:

Read This

Just another thought image

Fly-Rod 'Actions' -
What Do They Mean?

I guess one of the more confusing elements of fly-fishing is the hotchpotch of terms used to describe the “actions” of fly-rods.

Hopefully I can dispel some of this confusion and help making a decision on what fly-rod to buy easier.

Read More

Bishfish Facebook site Blog email Bish

Maori Greenstone (NZ Jade) Hook Ornament