The feeding patterns of trout revolve around aquatic insect activity. Predicting insect activity accurately is difficult, but understanding the conditions, time of year, and time of day that insects hatch will improve your fishing success.
Fishing in the morning can be super productive, specifically in the hot summer months. Trout can get sluggish in water temperatures above 65 degrees, catch and release fishing can stress the fish at these temperatures. Fishing in the morning is a great way to lower your impact on the fish and have better chances of success. Morning fishing in spring and fall isn’t as productive, but it has potential. Midges are typically most active in the morning during these periods, but mayfly and caddis hatches can be decent as well. In the winter, morning fishing can be slow due to the cold water temperatures. Nymphing is generally the key to success when fishing in the morning during winter.
Late Morning - Early Afternoon
Fishing from around 11:00 to 1:00 can be excellent most times of the year. In the summer, significant hatches start right around this time. You can expect caddis, mayflies, and stoneflies to be out and about, depending on the specific time of year and river you’re fishing. Spring and fall hatch also pick up around this time, although they may not peak until slightly later in the day. Fishing in the winter starts to get more productive around this time.
Afternoon - Early Evening
Afternoon fishing can be great, depending on the temperature. In the summer, fish may start to slow down if it’s hot outside, but if it’s not super hot, the fish will likely stay active. This can be the best time of day to fish in the fall, winter, and spring. In the fall and spring, hatches will often reach their peak around this time of day. Spring fish are eager to fatten up after a long winter, and fall fish need to eat before a cold winter. This is typically when water temperatures are warmest in the winter. The fish will be most active during this time, and getting them to take a fly is far more easy.
Evening - Dusk
Fishing later in the day can be very productive, especially in the summer. Hatches of caddis can often get very intense closer to dark. Water will still be warm after a long summer day, but just a slight reduction in temperatures can get the fish eager to bite. Fall and spring fishing can be decent at this time. Hatches generally taper off right when the sun starts to set, but fish will still be active into the night, especially on warmer days. In the winter, fishing at this time can be slow. Often trout slow down right after the warmest part of the day. Brown trout tend to feed around dark, so that is something to take into consideration. In Oregon, it’s only legal to fish one hour after sundown, so also keep that in mind.