How to Fish for Trout in a Creek

by Nathan Fisher
Small, out-of-the-way creeks can hold large populations of hungry trout.

Small, out-of-the-way creeks can hold large populations of hungry trout.

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Small waterways between the size of a brook and a stream, creeks often provide anglers with fast action. Many creeks in out-of-the-way places, especially those winding high through the mountains or down along forested valleys, don't receive the pressure of more easily reached and well-known fishing spots. Because they are often overlooked, fishing for trout in a creek can provide the opportunity to catch trout that have never received an education at the end of a hook.

Items you will need

  • Fishing pole
  • Short-strike spinning lures
  • Snap swivels
Step 1

Locate downed trees. Trees that have fallen across the width of the creek can act as a dam and create a small waterfall -- and the pool under the waterfall will usually hold a trout. Uprooted trees along the banks of creeks create a depression that fills up with water, also creating a pool and a home for fish.

Step 2

Find overhanging banks. In spots where the creek takes a sharp turn, the current undercuts the bank and carves out a hole where trout can wait for food to float by.

Step 3

Look for boulders. Large rocks in the creek block the current, creating a pocket of calm water on the downstream side of the boulder -- an ideal spot for a trout to hole up.

Step 4

Stick with spinning lures. Fishing with dry flies is fun and can be productive when insects are hatching. However, fly rods are better left to larger, open rivers than the short and brushy quarters along most creek beds. Additionally, fishing reports and surveys indicate that wet files are more productive than dry flies and spinning lures have virtually the same success rate as wet flies.

Step 5

Rig your pole for creek fishing. Tie a snap swivel to the line and hook a 1/16-oz. or 1/32-oz. spinning lure to the swivel. No sinker is necessary.

Step 6

Avoid short strikes. Because creeks are narrow, trout often do not have enough time to notice and hit the lure before the retrieve is completed. Often, the fish will see the spinner at the last second and make a mad dash for the lure, just missing the hook. To avoid short strikes, use specially designed "short-strike" lures that have a second hook trailing the main hook.

Step 7

Cast the lure across the creek and onto the opposite bank above a likely looking spot where you think a trout may be hiding. Pull the lure as gently as possible off the bank and into the water. Use a slow but steady retrieve all the way across the pool. Always anticipate a hit as you will only have a split second to react to the strike.

Step 8

Lift the rod tip in the air and reel the line in as fast as possible when the fish strikes the lure. Do not attempt to set the hook. Most often, the trout is so lightly hooked that you will actually dislodge the lure from the fish's mouth by trying to set the hook.

Step 9

Pull the fish from the water when it nears the bank. Swing the rod in a fast, smooth and steady motion across your body toward the bank where you are standing, launching the fish into the air. If the trout falls off the hook, which it frequently will, the momentum will carry the fish onto the bank. Be prepared to pick the trout up quickly, before it flops back into the creek.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you miss a strike, rest the spot for an hour and try again.
  • Taking the time to use a landing net in a creek will usually only give the fish time to throw the hook.


  • "Baits, Rigs and Tackle"; Vic Dunaway; 2002

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images