There was a time, not that many years ago, when the only way an Indiana angler could catch trout would be to load up the car and head to Michigan or another nearby state. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case.
Through an intensive hatchery stocking program, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has established some truly excellent trout fishing opportunities in Indiana.
Most Indiana trout streams and lakes operate as put-and-take fisheries. However, some locations support trout year-round, providing anglers with opportunities to tangle with overwintered trout that may measure 18 inches or more.
Rainbow trout and brown trout are both available in many Indiana waters, and the streams and lakes listed below are among the best of the best.
Be sure to consult the current fishing regulations before you hit the water. There is no closed season for trout on Indiana lakes, but stream regulations and seasons vary from place to place.
When you’re done checking out the best trout fishing Indiana has to offer, be sure to click the link at the bottom of this article to read through our simple guide to trout fishing techniques and tips.
Indiana Trout Fishing Rivers & Creeks
Several standout rivers and creeks have become reliable places for trout enthusiasts to target their favorite species.
The following Indiana trout streams offer some surprising fishing opportunities.
Little Elkhart River
A tributary of the St. Joseph River in Northern Indiana’s Elkhart County, the Little Elkhart River is one of the premier trout streams in the state.
The river offers several miles of beautiful trout fishing water, where the Indiana DNR stocks about 3,000 rainbow trout every spring.
The fish are stocked in the section of the Little Elkhart River from Middlebury to Bonneyville for the annual season opener on the last Saturday in April. The hatchery-raised fish are easy to catch on a wide range of baits, and fishing is typically shoulder-to-shoulder on opening weekend.
The river often receives additional trout plants a little later at Bonneyville Mill for the second week of trout season and Memorial Day weekend. Some years, the DNR adds a small number of brown trout to the mix.
The Little Elkhart River has a great section of catch-and-release, artificial lures-only water that is one of the best stretches for fly fishing in Indiana. This section runs from County Road 43 downstream to County Road 16, excluding waters along Riverbend Park.
The trout season is essentially over by the end of June when water temperatures rise too high to support the few trout that survive anglers’ hooks.
In recent years, significant efforts have been made to improve the Little Elkhart River.
The Little Elkhart Chapter of Trout Unlimited has been working to vegetate eroded banks, reduce silt, deepen pools, and lower water temperatures to provide better trout habitat in the catch-and-release section. One hopes this will only add to the trout fishing opportunities in years to come.
Located just a few miles south of the Little Elkhart River, and also in Elkhart County, Solomon Creek is another stream amply stocked with trout in springtime. This creek meanders through the farmland south of Goshen before emptying into the Elkhart River.
Solomon Creek is a small stream that receives around 1,000 rainbow trout every April, just in time for the season opener. Anglers will catch many of these fish during the first couple of weekends of the season, so don’t wait too long to make your move.
Being a much smaller stream, Solomon Creek doesn’t get quite the same horde of anglers that descend upon the Little Elkhart River on the last Saturday in April. But, even so, it can get crowded.
The best option is to visit the stream mid-week in early May when there are still plenty of trout to be caught. Fishing here on an uncrowded weekday is one of Indiana’s best opportunities for a peaceful trout fishing experience on an intimate stream.
Catch-and-release and artificial lures or flies-only regulations are in place on the lowest section of Solomon Creek, from County Road 33 to its confluence with the Elkhart River.
Brookville Tailwater (Whitewater River)
Brookville Lake is a 5,200-acre flood control reservoir on the East Fork of the Whitewater River. Located near the Ohio state line in East-Central Indiana, the tailwater below the reservoir offers some of the best trout fishing opportunities in the state.
The two-mile tailwater from the spillway down to the East Fork’s confluence with the West Fork Whitewater River provides what might be Indiana’s most consistent trout fishery. It’s a haven for fly anglers and often produces some surprisingly big trout.
The DNR stocks approximately 1,500 rainbow trout every fall in this section (brown trout have also been stocked here some years). Many of these fish overwinter in the river, and some even “oversummer,” as it were.
That makes this the only significant year-round trout stream in Indiana. That said, it’s good etiquette to lay off trout fishing during July and August when stream temperatures approach the 70-degree mark.
All fishing methods are permitted here, and trout commonly fall for spinners, spoons, and live bait.
Fly anglers often tempt trout using crayfish and minnow imitations or by nymphing. Scuds and sowbugs are a major component of these trout’s diet, so matching that forage can be effective.
Fishing along current seams with a nymph beneath a strike indicator is a great tactic.
Plenty of warm-water species also call the Whitewater River home, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, rock bass, bluegill and walleye. You never quite know what you’ll catch.
Brookville Town Park offers the best river access. Also, look for informal access sites at several bridge crossings within that two-mile reach of the river.
An 18-inch minimum length limit applies to brown trout on this river.
Meandering through the northeastern corner of Indiana before flowing across the Michigan state line, the Pigeon River offers some excellent spring trout fishing opportunities in a wild setting.
The Pigeon River is the most heavily stocked trout river in Indiana. The DNR plants approximately 9,000 rainbow trout between the Steuben and LaGrange County portions of the river for the season opener in April.
Additional stocking usually takes place in mid-May and Memorial Day weekend, providing trout fishermen with plenty of opportunities to catch scrappy rainbows well into June.
Access is available at various bridges and pull-offs.
The Indiana portion of the Pigeon River offers 17 miles of free-flowing water and several small impoundments. Generally, the farther upriver you go, the better the fishing.
Some of the best trout fishing is in the section that flows through Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife Area. This area is usually easy to wade and accessible by canoe or kayak.
Turkey Creek, a small tributary of the Pigeon River above Mongo Millpond, is also stocked with rainbow trout in April and May.
Fly anglers often find success using nymphs and streamers on the Pigeon River. Many anglers also catch limits of trout on spinning tackle using small Rapalas, spinners, and live red wigglers.
If you have time, take a few minutes after your fishing trip to visit the Curtis Creek Trout Rearing Station. It’s located on Curtis Creek, a small tributary of the Pigeon River, and offers public tours of the facilities where many of Indiana’s trout are raised.
Big Blue River
The Big Blue River traverses over 80 miles of Eastern Indiana. There are ample fishing opportunities along its length, but only a small portion offers trout fishing.
You’ll find that section in Henry County as the Big Blue River flows through Wilbur Wright Fish & Wildlife Area. The Little Blue feeds into the Big Blue in this stretch.
The DNR typically stocks at least 1,000 rainbow trout in this section in April.
The trout season doesn’t last long here; expect most of the fish to be gone by late May. But it’s a fun little river to fish while the brief season lasts. Warm-water fish, including smallmouth bass, will occupy anglers during the summer.
There’s a small pull-off with river access on E County Road 200 N. Another option is to walk along the Wilbur Wright Trail to the spot where it parallels the Big Blue River near a railroad bridge crossing. Anglers can wade upstream from there.
Indiana Trout Fishing Lakes & Ponds
The Indiana DNR stocks trout in more than 20 lakes and ponds throughout the state’s northern half. These are some of your best bets for catching fish in stocked trout lakes in Indiana:
Arguably Indiana’s premier trout lake, Oliver Lake is a 391-acre natural body of water in LaGrange County. The lake is just a few miles from the Michigan state line and part of a small chain of lakes often referred to as the Oliver Lakes Chain.
The DNR stocks these lakes abundantly with trout. The two other lakes in the chain—Olin and Martin lakes—also receive hatchery trout. But most years, the bulk of the 8,000-plus trout planted in the chain end up in Oliver.
Oliver Lake is 94 feet deep and stays cool enough that trout can survive throughout the summer and potentially live several years. You don’t see a lot of huge trout here, but there are lots of 12- to 16-inch rainbows.
The DNR also occasionally stocks brown trout here, and browns sometimes top 24 inches. An 18-inch minimum length limit is in place for brown trout.
There isn’t much in the way of bank access on Oliver Lake, but the public access site on E 450 S offers a boat launch and limited shore fishing on a small channel adjacent to the lake. Oliver Lake is great for fishing from a kayak or cartop boat.
The best season is late April into early May when trout are freshly-stocked. But holdover fish bite all summer long on drop-offs and deeper structures.
Casting or trolling spinners and spoons is popular, and fly anglers often have the best luck with Clouser Minnows, Sparrow Nymphs, and Wooly Buggers.
Ice fishing is another way anglers score on trout at Oliver Lake. Try a crappie minnow or jig in 6 to 12 feet of water when fishing through the ice.
Steuben County’s Lake Gage is another great option for catching stocked rainbows in Northern Indiana. The DNR plants more than 3,000 trout in this 326-acre natural lake every spring.
With cool waters and depths up to 73 feet, some trout make it through multiple seasons in Gage Lake, and it’s possible to catch rainbows up to 17 inches. It even produced a state record brook trout of just under 4 pounds.
However, if you’re fishing shortly after the spring opener, expect to catch mostly smaller fish that are newly stocked.
Early in the season, trout bite readily in shallow water on anything from live minnows and worms to Trout Nibbles and soft plastics. Later in the season, try trolling drop-offs to the deepest parts of the lake with small, brightly colored spoons.
Similar to Oliver Lake, there’s no real shore fishing access here unless you have permission from a landowner. Private residences encircle almost the entire shoreline. Your best bet is to launch in neighboring Lime Lake and motor across the channel to Gage Lake.
Be advised that the bridge that spans the connecting channel is low, so small boats are better to reach this fishery.
Lake Gage is ideal for kayak fishing or trolling from a small boat with an electric motor.
Four lakes created from former gravel pits in Tippecanoe County, Fairfield Lakes offer some great spring trout fishing opportunities near Lafayette in Western Indiana.
The DNR stocks about 1,000 rainbow trout here in the springtime. Few of these fish, if any, manage to hold over through the summer months, so it’s a put-and-take fishery that offers a couple of solid months starting in late April.
The good news is Fairfield Lakes County Park encompasses the lakes and provides outstanding bank access. In addition, walking paths encircle the shorelines of all four lakes, so there’s plenty of room for anglers to spread out.
Boating is allowed, but there are no launch facilities of any kind. That limits anglers to carrying cartop boats to the water and for hand-launching.
Fly fishing from a float tube is another fun option here.
Fairfield Lakes is a great spot to bring kids to introduce them to trout fishing.
The lakes have largemouth bass, crappie, and other warm-water species, so there are still options after trout season ends.
Not to be confused with the lake of the same name in LaGrange County, Whitley County’s Cedar Lake is a 144-acre natural lake with depths up to 72 feet. It’s an oblong-shaped lake with a narrow midpoint between two deep basins.
In spring, anglers often catch trout along the edges of new vegetation in shallower portions of the lake. A wide range of baits can do the trick.
Like many deep Northern Indiana lakes, Cedar Lake stratifies in summer, with a thermocline usually setting up around 15 to 20 feet. The best tactic this time of year is trolling right above the thermocline.
There are a few ways to do that, but tying on a spoon or streamer behind a small Dipsy Diver is an effective way to get your lure to depth. Also, a flasher in-between the Dipsy Diver and your lure can help attract some fish to the bait.
The DNR stocks rainbow trout in Cedar Lake every spring.
This lake often receives surplus trout stock in the fall when available too, so it’s always worth checking the DNR website that time of year.
There is no public access immediately on the shore of Cedar Lake. However, the lake is part of the Tri-Lakes chain, and there’s a boat ramp on Round Lake. So launching there and motoring through the connecting channels to Cedar lake is the best option.
Catch More Trout
Now that you know where to catch trout in Indiana, and have some ideas of what approach to take in the waters here, read through our simple guide to trout fishing techniques and tips to boost your odds.