Finding summer trout

Target trout in cool water using depth maps.

Summer is here and everyone is trying to beat the heat, and trout are no exception. Trout are coldwater fish and seek out cool, well-oxygenated water which becomes harder to find as summer progresses. That can be good news for anglers, since it can become easier to target trout by fishing in deep (but not too deep) waters. As the water warms, shallower margins of lakes are no longer suitable habitat for trout, so they move deeper toward cooler temperatures in the center of the waterbody. Trout are restricted from going too deep because oxygen becomes limited.

summer trout fishing

These illustrations show how suitable trout habitat becomes more compressed during the summer months. By picturing a pond from above (A), you can see the shallower shoreline areas (shaded in blue) are too warm for trout. When a viewed in profile (B), you can see the narrow band of water that contains enough dissolved oxygen and is cool enough for trout. The exact depth and dimensions of the band of trout-friendly water can vary from pond to pond and during different times of the season.

MassWildlife’s Go Fish MA! map can help you target trout in deep lakes. After launching the map, use the “Digital Depth” and “Trout Stocked” filters to narrow your list of options. Zoom into a waterbody to see the bathymetry (depth) contours. In most cases, you need a boat (a canoe, kayak, or even paddleboard will do) to reach the deep, cool trout-friendly waters. If fishing from shore, you’ll still have plenty of opportunities to catch bass, bluegill, and other warmwater species.

Trout provide a great fishing experience and a fantastic meal. If you catch trout from lakes this summer, we hope you will keep and enjoy them rather than releasing them back into warm waters. While successful catch and release is possible in certain scenarios, like in cold rivers, catching and releasing trout in lakes during the summer can stress trout and result in low survival because it requires moving them between cooler and warmer waters. You can keep up to three trout per day (see fishing regulations).

More summer fishing resources

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1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581

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