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Shore fishing for rainbow trout

Bring on food, fun, and relaxation with this angling approach

By Eric Braaten/WDFW

Shore fishing is a favorite method for many anglers, and with good reason: It can be productive and is also a great way to relax and involve family and friends.

Easy gear-up

Another advantage to this tactic is that you don’t need a lot of gear to get it done. Here is a quick breakdown of what you’ll need:

Gear: A 6-foot, 6-inch to 8-foot rod. I prefer a 7-foot medium action rod. I use a spinning reel with 6-pound test monofilament line.

Bait: Floating dough baits are best, or a marshmallow and worm or eggs.

A typical set-up to shore fish includes rod holders, a chair, and a bucket to haul tackle. (Eric Braaten/WDFW)


Shore fishing set-up: I tie up a leader at 24 inches, but sometime use a 36-inch leader. I like to use fluorocarbon leader of 4- to 6-pound test line with a size 4 or 6 octopus hook. I use egg sinkers weighing a quarter-ounce to a half-ounce, leading to a plastic bead to protect your knot, followed by a barrel swivel, and then it’s leader out to the hook.

Shore gear: I use a bucket and put my bait and gear in it, as well as a small tacklebox with hooks, weights, and leader-keeper for extra leaders in case one breaks. I also bring a stringer and rod holder, and I use a strike indicator to make it easier to see bites.

You do not need a lot of tackle to shore fish. Floating dough baits, eggs, marshmallows, nightcrawlers, scent, hook removers, rod holders, hooks, leader, swivels and sinkers will take care of it. (Eric Braaten/WDFW)


Egg sinker, bead, barrel swivel and leader to hook is all you need to shore fish with bait for trout. (Eric Braaten/WDFW)


How to rig and catch fish from shore

Use your hands to roll the bait into a ball and push it onto the hook. Pinch it off just past the hook bend then reform the bait around the hook so the hook’s hidden. Then cast out your line and set your rod in a beach rod holder or on your chair. Pick up or tighten slack in your line.

Now watch the rod tip, and when you see a bite, slowly grab the rod. Aim the tip of the rod toward the fish and wait for next tap or bite then sweep the rod straight up or sideways, setting the hook. After the fish is hooked, set the drag on your reel to allow the fish to run if needed.

If you brought a net, now’s the time to net your fish. If not, just slide the fish up on the beach or grab it. When there are size restrictions on retainable fish, be careful how you bring the fish in. Use a hook remover to free the hook and release the fish if it is too small. When handling a fish that will be released, be sure to wet your hands first to prevent damaging the fish’s protective coating. If you keep the fish, use a stringer or bring a small cooler to put it in.

Many Washington lakes allow two rods if you have a two-rod endorsement on your license. This allows you to experiment and to try different colors/baits to see what fish like. 

Seasonal shore fishing

In the winter, we will bring down firewood using a sled to make a fire and have a hot lunch of hotdogs, or the like. This provides some warmth and makes the time fishing last a little longer.

It’s easy to see why shore fishing for rainbow trout is a great pastime that can be full of great fish and experiences for you and your family and friends, even as the colder months set in. Give these tips a try for a fall full of tight lines and good times.

Bringing a chair and having the right gear makes shore fishing enjoyable and relaxing! (Eric Braaten/WDFW)


Don’t forget!

The 2021 Derby is in full swing until the end of October. Open to anyone with a valid 2021 fishing license! No entrance fee or registration required. Just catch a tagged trout and you win! 

Derby information page

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