Locating Bull Trout

Knowing where Bull Trout are located in a lake or reservoirs depends largely on the water temperature.

They prefer water temperature below 64°F and warmer than 40°F/5°C. It’s safe to say that the sweet spot is around 55°F to 64°F/12°C to 18°C.

In lakes and reservoirs, they’ll stay below the thermocline to keep cool. Understanding currents and the movement of water helps as does knowing the water temperature at particular depths.

Most North American lakes along the western Pacific coast stay cold below the first 5 feet/1.3 meters. Down around 20 feet/6 meters and the temperature rarely gets above 60°F/15.5°C degrees so they don’t usually go very deep unlike the Lake Trout.

Bull Trout go deep in summer when the water warms up and in winter as the bottom of the lake is warmer. Contrary to what you might think, the warmer temperatures are often at the deepest part of the lake in the winter and the coldest is just under the ice.

Deep River Pools

Lakes and reservoirs are not the only places that Bull trout can find deep water.

After spawning, Bull trout often find deep pools of water downstream from their spawning headwaters. Some will go further downstream, but again, they are looking for deep pools.

Winter Bull Trout Movements

When water temperatures drop below 40°F, Bull Trout, like other freshwater fish, slow down and eat less.


Catching them at this time is more difficult, but not impossible. When fishing for them through an ice hole, consider bright jigs that replicate salmon eggs in appearance.

The water is very dark at depth so any lure that reflects light will provide an advantage.