The Best Bait For Trout In Lakes

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A man holding a large rainbow trout / steelhead in the water about to be released.

Trout fishing in lakes can sometimes feel difficult. With an expansive body of water in front of you, where do you even start? The following should give your confidence most of the time on most lakes throughout the country. Whether fishing for wild or stocked trout, some food sources are universal including floating setups, topwater presentations, and bottom baits. Each will let you cover different levels of the water column and target trout who are both sluggish and aggressive.


A small dark cricket sits on a a green leaf demonstrating one of the best baits for trout in lakes.

Insects are a natural food source for all trout. In fact, 90% of a trout’s diet consists of top water bugs. Hence why fly fishing is so popular. Crickets tend to make some of the best bait for trout. You can rig them under a bobber, use split shot weights, or even cast out weightless and let the bait fall slowly. Use a size 2-3 trout hook and thread the cricket through the back. If you cast out using a bobber, try using a split shot beebee or two to get your bait down into the strike zone. Anglers will often fish insects at dusk when trout raise to surface feed. A large cricket is often too good to pass up.


Nightcrawlers, red worms, mealworms – these are all great options for targeting trout, especially for beginners. Like insects, worms are also a natural food source for fish. After heavy rain and runoff, worms will get washed into lakes and streams, providing a healthy snack for trout. Ways to rig a worm include using a split shot weight to hold your bait down and gently raising your rod tip to give the worm action. You can also use a bobber set-up and drift your bait downstream. Alternatively, you can also use a worm blower to inflate the worm and allow it to float off the bottom. This allows you to set your rod down while using a bell clipped to the tip of your rod tip to indicate a strike.


A man holding a container of glitter Powerbait as example of one of the best trout baits for lakes.

Powerbait is some of the best trout bait for stocked trout, as it resembles a colorful version of the same pellets they were fed in the hatchery. Some popular colors anglers often go with are chartreuse and salmon egg. Scented dough baits are effective scubas garlic scent. Using a 1/2 oz egg sinker fixed with a barrel swivel 3-4 ft above your bait, cast out and let it hit bottom. When you begin feeling bites allow the fish to get the bait fully in its mouth before setting the hook. Reel your line in periodically to check your bait as trout have a tendency of biting softly and stealing bait.

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