Best Trout Fishing Locations in Headwaters and Tributaries

Your trout fishing vacation shouldn’t be postponed just because your intended rivers are too high and muddy. Instead, find other sources of trout that many fishermen will overlook, but that are rife with trout. If you try these areas and fish each one like you would the river, you might find that your trout fishing days yield even better results.
1. Above Pools

Locate a large pool of water and move up-stream a ways. In the rocky, sometimes muddy sections of pocket water, you’ll find trout because they feel safe with the pool of water so close. They know that they can run for the pool should danger arise, and they find food among the smooth rocks that cover pocket water. Fish this area quickly and with short, smooth casts.

Best Bait: Ear Nymph

2. Plunge Pools

Large pools of turbulent water immediately following a cascade of water will be filled with trout. You might be tempted to fish the middle of the pool so that you can reach deeply, but I recommend that you try the shallower edges of the pool. Find a spot where you can avoid drag and fish in increasingly long casts, making sure to cover as much area as possible.

Best Bait: Rooster Trail

3. Stone Shelves

These are most commonly found between two pools, one of which will usually be a plunge pool. Fish the steps just as you would any other bedrock, but steer clear of the edge where the fish can see you. Try dipping your bait into cracks between stones, because these are likely hiding places for trout. You can also fish from atop steady rocks, though this will invariably alert the trout to your presence.

Best Bait: Copper John Nymph

4. Fallen Brush

If you can find an area of a tributary where brush, trees or logs have blown into the water, you might have found a haven for larger trout. Fish these areas with care, as your bait can easily become snagged, but if you can hit the right spot, you’ll come up with enormous trout. Make short, teasing casts to generate interest in the bait.

Best Bait: Little Drake Stonefly

5. Water Bends

Any place where a river or tributary takes a sudden turn will be a prime hiding spot for large trout. Fish from the outside edge of the bend or arm and cast to the slower-moving current first, gradually moving outward to the faster-moving section. You can repeat the process three or four times before you have exhausted the hole.

Best Bait: Blue Fox

6. Pockets

Darker areas of water indicate deeper pockets where you might find large fish. Since trout like to hide in deeper areas, snug within a pocket, you can cast to these areas in order to tempt them out of hiding. You’ll find these in all kinds of pools as well as widened areas of tributaries.

Best Bait: Nightcrawler

7. Eddies

The small pools on the sides of cliff eddies are prime spots for large fish. Although there won’t be many in one eddy, you’ll find extremely large and hungry trout. Fish these in quick succession; never waste too much time on any one eddy. If you don’t get any bites, don’t be discouraged because there really aren’t very many trout here, just large ones.

Best Bait: Copper John Nymph

8. Beaver Dam

This holds the same promise as fallen brush, though you must find newer dams that are still deep and full of fish. Approach the edge of the shore carefully and make sure not to make any noise. Watch for dark patches of water to indicate significant depth and look for signs that the dam is still new.

Best Bait: Parachute Blue-Wing Olive

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