Stocked Trout Fishing Tips

Stocked Trout Fishing Tips

A beautiful stocked rainbow trout

What could be better than thousands trout dumped into a lake on a weekly basis for your catching pleasure? The answer is, “Not much.” Fishing for stocked trout can be a relaxing as well as rewarding trip, and there is great chance you’ll run into a big one. Light line and an ultralight setup can lead to hours of consistent fishing as well as an exciting fight. No time to waste, let’s learn how to limit out quick with these stocked trout fishing tips!

Trout Stocking Patterns

One of the most important aspects of fishing for stocked trout is figuring out when and where the lake dumps fish every week. This can be easily researched through local fishing reports or a simple phone call to the lake office. Fishing either during or recently after a trout stock can mean the difference between landing a few fish and filling a limit quick.

There is also a difference in the types of trout that are stocked. This can vary from region to region but in Northern California we experience dumping of DFG Trout as well as the more appealing Mt. Lassen Trout. DFG Trout are much smaller and less tasty than the larger, delicious Mt. Lassen Trout, and for us it is crucial to know when and where they are planting the Mt. Lassen goodies. Finding out which species are stocked in your area can help you weed out the smaller fish and target a heftier limit.

Trout-Stocked Lakes in the Bay Area

If you are from or near the Bay Area, you can find an abundance of stocked trout in these local lakes.

A hefty rainbow trout from Lake Del Valle
A hefty rainbow trout from Lake Del Valle


  • Lake Del Valle

Santa Clara County

  • Lake Cunningham
  • Campbell Percolation Ponds
  • Sandy Wool Lake
  • Spring Valley Lake

Solano County

  • Lake Chabot

Alameda County

  • Shadow Cliffs Lake
  • Lake Elizabeth
  • Horseshoe Lake
  • Lakeshore Park Pond

A Proper Ultralight Trout Setup

You can either fish with bait or throw lures for stocked trout, both of which are equally effective, however, each method requires a slightly different setup.

Bait Fishing Setup for Stocked Trout

Whether it be Powerbait, nightcrawlers, or any other bait you choose, it is crucial to have a proper bait rod and reel.

Berkley Trout Dough RodThe Bait Rod

  1. Berkley Trout Dough Rod – Can’t get any more simple than this. Berkley made the absolute perfect rod for fishing Powerbait specifically but it works with any live bait as well. Cheap, durable, and even comes as a combo with a reel – couldn’t be any better.

A Bait Reel

I spool my bait reels with 6-8lb fluorocarbon line. Fluoro will provide many more bites!

  1. Daiwa Revros 2000 – extremely smooth for its price point.
  2. Shimano Sedona 1000 FE – One of Shimano’s high-quality reels that won’t break the bank.
  3. Pflueger Trion 25 – A popular brand amongst many trout anglers. Smooth and inexpensive makes for the perfect compact bait reel.

Lure Fishing Setup for Stocked Trout

Almost any rod with a fairly soft tip can be used for throwing lures, but investing in a designated lure rod can help you work with lighter line and ultimately get more bites.

If you don’t want to spend the money on an ultralight rod, a typical finesse rod for bass will work fine as well. I’d highly recommend the investment, however, and it will definitely pay off on the water!

An Ultralight Rod for Lures

  1. Fenwick Elite Tech River Runner 7’2” Ultralight – My manager uses this for fishing streams and river systems and I’ve grown to love it as well.
  2. Daiwa Presso 7’ – A great ultralight rod that won’t hurt your wallet. For its price, the quality and action are unbeatable.
  3. Okuma SST 7’ Ultralight – One of the cheaper ultralight rods yet the quality stands up there with the rest. Definitely a great starter that will also last you years to come.

Great Reels for Fishing Lures

I spool my trout reels with 2-6lb fluorocarbon line. Fluoro makes a huge difference compared to mono!

  1. Daiwa Revros Spinning ReelShimano Stradic Ci4+ 1000 – The first and last big investment you can make for your trout fishing. This reel is lighter than its peers and will last you a lifetime. Fully packed with Shimano technology that you won’t find in other reels.
  2. Daiwa Revros 2000 – extremely smooth for its price point.
  3. Pflueger Trion 25 – A popular brand amongst many trout anglers. Smooth and inexpensive makes for the perfect compact reel for lures.

Bait Fishing Techniques for Stocked Trout

The Carolina/Sliding Sinker Rig

Bait fishing for trout is fairly simple – a sliding sinker rig on light line is all you need. Adjust leaders depending on the bite but 12-18” should be perfect for most situations.

  1. Size 8 Gamakatsu Baitholder Hooks for live bait (nightcrawlers, etc.)
  2. Size 12 Eagle Claw Gold Treble for Powerbait
  3. Small Barrel Swivels
  4. Small Trout Beads (protects the knot from impact)
  5. ¼ -½ oz. Egg Sinkers
  6. 12-18” of Fluorocarbon Leader Line

Using Berkley Powerbait

Berkley Powerbait is probably the most popular bait of choice for stocked trout. It mimics the food the trout eat at their hatchery and can be deadly just about anywhere trout are stocked. Here are a few powerbait trout fishing tips to help you fish Powerbait more effectively.

  • Make sure to use a gold hook. Gold hooks are lighter than traditional bronze, helping your Powerbait to float better in the water.
  • Lip Ripperz Hatchery DustYou don’t always have to roll your Powerbait into a ball around the hook! Try molding the Powerbait into a worm around the treble hook – I’ve had a huge increase in bites this way.
  • It never hurts to use scent. Powerbait Trout Dip works wonders and Lip Ripperz Hatchery Dust is also a popular favorite. The Hatchery Dust helps your bait mimic hatchery food even better, ultimately increasing your bite ratio.

Live Bait Fishing

Using the same Carolina Rig for Powerbait, live bait fishing can be even more effective at times. It’s always hard for a fish to resist a lively, wriggling worm on the end of your line.

  • Inflate your worms. Using a worm blower not only helps you float your worms, but it also doubles the size of your bait.
  • A little goes a long way. Pinching nightcrawlers in half and inflating them has been proven extremely effective. Another benefit is that you save bait!

Lure Fishing Techniques for Stocked Trout

Lure Selection

  • Lip Ripperz Litl Ripperz – Perfect for jigging around on 2-4lb fluorocarbon line.
  • Kastmaster ⅛ – ¼ oz. – Slow, steady retrieve with few twitches in between.
  • Original Rooster Tail – Slow, steady retrieve with few twitches in between.
  • Rapala Ultra Light Minnow – Steady retrieve with pauses and twitches in between.


  1. I love trout fishing! Although I’ve only fly fished for them but I’ll definitely check out those locations.

  2. I am STOKED for this years Trout season! Hopefully this guy El Nino brings some rain and cold weather this winter! Also I am planning on Beating my personal best! Which was a 9 Pound Rainbow out of Lake Cuyamaca. I caught it using chartreuse power bait.

    • I’m waiting for the weather to cool as well! Trout fishing was great over at Del Valle Reservoir last year, tons of fatty Mt. Lassen stockers in there, can’t wait to go back.

  3. Thanks for the heads up on the trout pole and reel combo. Your website is really informative. Heading out to Lake del Valle in a few days and excited to catch some rainbows!

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