Call us toll-free at 1-800-661-6954

Welcome to The Fishin' Hole Canada's source for tackle and sport fishing equipment. Try us for all of your sportfishing needs...In store, on-line or toll free. You'll get hooked on the service!

Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.


Many anglers, myself included on occasion, seem to always want to be fishing where they aren’t.

If we are on one side of the stream, we want to be on the other, one side of the lake, the fishing must be better on the far shore.

In large rivers many anglers want to get their lure or fly into the middle, after all it’s deep, fast and surely must house the biggest trout in the stream. In most cases this is not true; fish need certain things at specific times to survive. The dock you’re standing on or the knee deep water where you’re standing in the river can at times be a more likely place to find fish.

Trout in rivers and streams need several things to make them happy, shelter from predators, relief from the current and a food supply that requires as little exertion as possible. Sheltering lies are where trout find protection from both predators and the current. Feeding lies are areas where the trout will move into to feed. If a trout can find both of these in one spot it’s called a prime lie and this is generally where you will find the best fish in the area.

Let’s examine some typical areas in rivers and streams so that you can learn to identify likely spots to find trout.

Broken Water

Broken water, such as boulder gardens and riffles are good places for trout to live and will contain sheltering lies, feeding lies and prime lies. The broken water in these areas provides both protection from predators and the rocks and uneven bottom provide protection from the current. Trout must face into the current to survive but cannot work too hard so areas where there is a little gentler flow are needed. These areas contain numerous current seams which funnel food into what is called a feeding lane.

Areas like these are great places to catch fish because they mask the anglers approach. The broken water provides poor visibility and the noise can mask the approach which allows the angler to get much closer for an easier presentation. While most anglers recognize the areas behind rocks as likely fish holding water they overlook the area in front of the rock. The current pushing up against the front of the rock has a cushioning effect on the current and will often be home to a fish or two, don’t ignore the front of rocks.

Broken water provides both cover and food for trout.

Undercut Banks

Undercut banks occur in streams that run through soil rather than rock. Spring creeks and meadow streams are likely locations for undercut banks. Some of these undercuts can be minor but many of them are surprisingly deep. Brown trout in particular like to hang out in these areas to wait for the darkness of an overcast sky or nightfall to begin their feeding.

Undercuts are for the most part sheltering lies. While some food may be available to the trout that inhabit them, most fish will move out from under them to feed, secure in the fact that they scoot back under at the first sign of danger. The one mistake many anglers make while fishing these types of streams is walking right along the bank as this means you are walking right on top of the fish. Doing this will spook fish and they in turn will spook any others in the area. On heavily fished streams with undercut banks you will see two paths along the stream, one close to the bank, the other well back travelled by anglers that understand undercuts.

Stay well back from the bank or better yet get right into the water and wade slowly. Present your fly as close to the undercut as possible. If you can swing a streamer under the bank you may be rewarded with savage strike, losing your fly on snags will occur but the reward may also be that trout of a lifetime.

Brown trout love the security of undercut banks

Converging Currents

Converging currents are one of my favourite places to cast a fly, especially nymphs. When two or more currents come together in a river or stream they do a couple of things that are advantageous to trout. When currents collide they slow down and channel food into one concentrated area. This slowing of currents and concentration of food provides an excellent sheltering lie, as well as, feeding lie and in many situations a prime lie. An angler that works from the bottom of the current seam up into the pocket where the two currents meet will find success with a nymph. If the fish are rising to surface insects , use a dry fly.

An example of converging currents, an excellent place to find trout.

Stream Pools


Pools are the slowest and deepest parts of a stream. Many anglers spend a great deal of their time fishing these spots while ignoring the water in between. Pools are definitely the most obvious places to find fish and can be the easiest but often fish that lie deep in pools are not feeding making them not so easy to catch. While these pools can provide outstanding fishing at times, often they are providing nothing more than shelter because of their depth.

Fish sitting in pools will most often spend their feeding time at either the head or tail waters. This is especially true when there is a hatch on. Fish that spend much of their time near the bottom, safe from predators and out of the current will move to where the current enters the pool, the head, or to where it exits the pool, the tail or tail-out. In these areas the food is concentrated into a feeding lane and the distance the fish has to travel to the surface is reduced. Trout must take in more calories than they expend while feeding. It takes a lot less energy to move to shallower water, where the food is concentrated to feed, than it does to rise up through several feet of water to take insects spread out over a larger area. Often the largest fish in the pools can be found feeding at the head of the pool as they get first crack at the insects that are being funnelled into the pool. This allows them to quickly retreat back into the depths at the first sign of danger.

Fish lying in the bottom of pools are often not in feeding mode, just resting they will move to the head or tail of the pool when they get serious about feeding.

Overhead Cover & Log Jams

Overhead cover can take many forms: logjams, branches, willows, scum or foam, weed beds, bridge abutments and docks are but some of these areas. They provide not only cover and relief from heavy current but can also be a source of food. Terrestrial insects such as ants and beetles will often live in these areas and end up blown or washed into the water which provides an easy meal for the waiting trout. In streams, stoneflies will use these areas to crawl out of the stream during their emergence and use these areas to migrate out of the stream to begin their short lives as a flying insect.


Weed Beds


Weed beds can be difficult to fish but should not over looked. They provide protection from predators, slow the current, house insects that provide food and also release oxygen during the day. They are best fished with dry flies as it is difficult to effectively fish nymphs or streamers in these areas. Dry flies can be fished along the edges of the weed beds or cast into the open pockets of water between weed growths. Fish hooked in these areas are often hard to land as they will dive for the safety of the weeds. Weed beds will often be home to scuds, or fresh water shrimp, which provide trout with an easy and nutritious meal. Stripping a scud pattern along the edges of these weed beds can often result in success for the angler.

Weed beds while difficult to fish provide both cover and an abundance of food for fish.

Foam Lines


We have a mantra that we use, especially when floating rivers like the Bow, “FISH THE FOAM”, where there’s foam there’s food and where there’s food there’s fish. Foam lines are a place where food collects due to the current; they are a good indication of where the main current seam is. In the classic video “Anatomy of a Trout Stream” Rick Hafele demonstrates this by spreading out a bag of mini marshmallows out across a stream. After a short journey downstream the majority of the marshmallows have all fallen into a line, indicating where the current directs most of the food. This is especially useful in areas where rivers are broader and flowing slower than in other places. They indicate where the main current is in an area where on the surface everything looks the same. Foam lines can be fished with dries, nymphs or streamers as fish will line up along these lines knowing a meal is not far away. Hopefully these tips will help you understand better not only where trout live in streams, but where the fish that are actively feeding are most likely to be. Hopefully the next time you approach a stream or river you will be a little more confident that you are in the right place after all.

Previous Fishing Articles
(1) It’s OK to Be Little Bitty
(2) Exploring Tundra Waters
(3) The Jewel at First Ice
(4) Fly Fishing Bucket List
(5) Guided or DIY?
(6) Pond Power
(7) Caddisflies
(8) In the Good Old Summertime
(9) A Southern Escape
(10) Springtime in Alberta - Can Thrill You to the Bone
(11) Sunny Day Rainbows
(12) New "Fishing" Year Resolutions
(13) Five Fine Places to Find Trout
(14) Catfishing Revisited
(15) Discover Squamish, an Outdoor Playground
(16) Falling for Cutthroat
(17) New Water and Old Friends
(18) My McLeod
(19) Temperature and Trout
(20) On the Road Again
(21) Tips That Will Make You a More Successful Fly-Fisherman
(22) 5 Ways to Catch Your Trout
(23) The Difference Maker - Reading Trout Stream Waters
(24) Rollin’ on the River
(25) Windy Day Pike
(26) Cures for Cabin Fever
(27) Snowbirding with a Fishing Rod
(28) Alberta’s Spring Creek Browns - Blessings and Curses
(29) A day on our foothill streams
(30) Fly Fishing Crowded Waters
(31) Fly Leaders
(32) In the Zone
(33) Learners Permit
(34) Flies of Summer
(35) Selecting the Right Boat
(36) The Italian Job
(37) Making a difference
(38) Pass the Salt
(39) Hopper Time - Fly-fishing’s Second Season
(40) Pike on the Fly - Fishing New Waters
(41) Fall brings the big walleye out
(42) Hoppertunity Time
(43) Becoming a Better Dry Fly Angler
(44) Make Your Own Fishing Adventure
(45) Early Season Fly Fishing
(46) Walleye Logic
(47) Fly Fishing in the Desert
(48) Grammy’s Fish
(49) Top 10 Trout Lures
(50) All I Want for Christmas – Neil Waugh's Yule Tide Fishing Gifts Wish List
(51) Muskies - The Ultimate Predator
(52) What to expect when fishing the West Coast
(53) Tips & Tricks for Fall Fly Fishing
(54) There’s No Place Like Home
(55) A Golden Opportunity
(56) The Observational Trout Fisherman
(57) Un-matching the Hatch
(58) Alberta Super Bugs
(59) Glass is Back
(60) The Bull Trout of the Athabasca
(61) Speed Kills
(62) Entering the Twilight Zone
(63) Old Man River
(64) The Pink Salmon of the Squamish River
(65) Small stream BT fishing
(66) Fly fishing beyond Trout: getting started
(67) In The Walleye Zone
(68) Zoo Trout
(69) Fly Selection for Beginners
(70) Fly Fisher's Christmas
(71) New Waters
(72) Big Bad Burbot
(73) Looking Back
(74) Out of Africa
(75) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams
(76) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish
(77) The Browns of Autumn
(78) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons
(79) Walleye Town
(80) River Fun - One Bite At A Time
(81) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers
(82) Going With The Flow
(83) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman
(84) Swinging The Fences
(85) A View From The Aerie
(86) Dixieland Delight
(87) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts
(88) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon
(89) Montana's Cool Missouri
(90) Pretty Is As Pretty Does
(91) Toothy Critters
(92) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake
(93) Top Ten Flies
(94) Northern Exposure
(95) Home Water Lessons
(96) Chicken Of The Sea
(97) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish
(98) Deep In The Heart Of Texas
(99) Keep It Up!
(100) River Fishing for Fall Walleye
(101) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the 2013 flood
(102) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity
(103) Hawg Holes
(104) Saltwater Salmon
(105) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing
(106) Down a Lazy River - A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan
(107) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead
(110) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver
(111) Canada's "Other" Salmon
(112) Fall Walleye
(113) Wet Flies
(114) Versatility the Key to Success
(115) Grayling of the Boreal
(116) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish
(117) Size Matters
(118) Fly Fishing Small Streams
(119) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time
(120) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel
(121) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas
(122) The Point Of It All
(123) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day
(124) Fall Fly Fishing
(125) Personal Pontoon Boats 101
(126) Big River, Big Fish
(127) Bottom Bonanza
(128) Fishing Small Flies
(129) So Many Choices, So Little Time
(130) Four Seasons of the Bow
(131) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot
(133) Trout Hunting New Zealand style
(134) Don’t Leave Home Without Them – 10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box
(135) Edge Walleye
(137) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge
(138) Four Corners – Four Waters
(139) Chasing Pothole Trout
(140) Springtime Stoneflies
(141) The Torrents of Spring
(142) Drift Boat Fly Fishing
(143) Bust Them With Bait
(144) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book
(145) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months
(146) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout
(147) Terrestrials
(148) Fly In For Fishing Fun
(149) Rocky Mountain High
(150) Reading the clues
(151) Where the Trout Are The art of locating feeding trout in rivers and streams.
(152) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin
(153) Fly Fishing 101
(154) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod
(155) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay
(156) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder
(157) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead
(158) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital
(159) Eliminating the Spook Factor
(160) Trust Your Electronics
(161) The Most Important Hatch of the Year
(162) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout
(163) Finding Success for Ice Trout
(164) Walleye can be Humbling
(165) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed
(166) Winter Flyfishing
(167) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Fishing Gem
(168) Hot Fall Pike Action
(169) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down
(170) Reading Trout Stream Waters
(171) Frequently Asked Questions
(172) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout
(173) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice
(174) Deep Water Perch
(175) Post Spawn Brookies
(176) A Fisher's Life
(177) The River's Last Stand
(178) The Big Ones Come out at Night
(179) Coho on the Coast
(180) Chasing and Catching Halibut
(181) Summer in the Mountains
(182) Peak Walleye Season
(183) Slow and Steady Wins the Race
(184) Last Ice Rainbows
(185) The Burbot Event
(186) Tackle Matching
(187) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light
(188) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location
(189) The Lure of Brook Trout
(190) The Shallow Water Hunt is On
(191) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now
(192) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies
(193) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan
(194) The Vesatile Plug
(195) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout
(196) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures
(197) Good Fishing at Last Ice
(198) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations
(199) Daily Fish Migrations
(200) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn
(201) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star
(202) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing
(203) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing
(204) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser
(205) The Fun in Ultra Light
(206) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines
(207) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure
(208) Never Stop Learning
(209) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot
(210) Jigging through the Ice
(211) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline
(212) Rainbows on Ice
(213) The Season of Ice Begins
(214) Red Hot Fall Pike Action
(215) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman
(216) Facts On Cats
(217) West Coast Adventure
(218) June Walleye Frenzy
(219) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories
(220) First Fish of the Year Pothole Rainbows and Browns
(221) Northern Exposure
(222) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish
(223) Early Season Pike On The Fly
(224) Man Overboard
Canada Boating License