Trout Season Beginning and End | US and Canada

In recent years, trout fishing has rapidly increased in popularity. Fly fishing and spin fishing in cold waters in North America in pursuit of trout has become a favorite pastime for anglers of all skill levels. Due to the increase in popularity, states and provinces have been forced to become more strict on regulations in order to keep trout populations balanced.

If a state or province has a trout fishing season, it likely runs from April until November. In the cold months, states and provinces will require anglers to practice catch-and-release for trout. Some states have trout fishing seasons on specific waters, so pay close attention to local regulations.

Following the rules and regulations within the trout seasons will ensure healthy populations for years to come.

I’ve also written an in-depth article on Trout Fishing Rules and Regulations in US and Canada for those who wish to know more.

United States Trout Fishing Seasons

AlabamaYear-round unless otherwise posted
AlaskaMid-June through September
ArizonaYear-round unless otherwise posted
ArkansasYear-round unless otherwise posted
CaliforniaApril 30 to November 15
ColoradoYear-round unless otherwise posted
ConnecticutTidal Waters and Lower Rivers: Year round   Ponds, Rivers, Streams, and Lakes: April 9 to February 28
DelawareApril 1 – June 30 and October 5 – November 30
FloridaTrout fishing closed in February
GeorgiaYear-round unless otherwise posted
HawaiiNo trout in Hawaii
IdahoYear-round unless otherwise posted
IllinoisApril 1 to October 21 unless otherwise posted
IndianaLast Saturday in April – December
IowaYear-round unless otherwise posted
KansasNovember 1 to April 15
KentuckyYear-round   Certain streams are October 1 to March 31
LouisianaYear round unless otherwise posted
MaineApril 1 to August 15   Artificial Lures or Flies: August 16 to September 30
MarylandYear-round unless otherwise posted
MassachusettsYear-round unless otherwise posted
MichiganYear-round unless otherwise posted   Certain streams are open April 1-October 31
MinnesotaApril 15-October 31
MississippiYear-round unless otherwise posted
MissouriYear-round unless otherwise posted   Designated Trout Parks Catch-and-Release: November to March
MontanaYear-round unless otherwise posted   Rivers & streams in Western and Central Districts: May 15 to December 1
NebraskaYear-round unless otherwise posted
NevadaYear round unless otherwise posted
New HampshireRivers & Streams: January 1 – October 15   Wild Trout Streams: January 1- Labor Day Trout Ponds: 4th Saturday in April – October 15   Wild Trout Ponds: 4th Saturday in April -Labor Day   All other waters: Year-round unless otherwise posted
New JerseyApril 1-March 20
New MexicoYear-Round unless otherwise posted
New YorkBrown, Brook, and Rainbow Trout Season: April 1 to October 15 in the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes, and Lake Champlain.   Inland Trout Streams Catch-and-Keep: April 1 to October 15.   Inland Trout Streams Catch-and-Release: October 16-March 31
North CarolinaDesignated Mountain Trout Waters: October 1 to June 2   Hatchery Waters: Closed in March   All other water is year-round unless otherwise posted
North DakotaYear-round unless otherwise posted   Lightning Lake: Catch-and-release only from April 1 through June 30
OhioYear-round unless otherwise posted
OklahomaYear-round unless otherwise posted
OregonCentral Zone Streams: May 22-October 31   Lakes: year-round
PennsylvaniaRegular Trout Season: April 2 to September 5   Extended Trout Fishing Season: September 6-February 20
Rhode IslandApril 11 to February 29   No trout can be harvested from March 1 to April 10
South CarolinaChattanooga River Catch-and-Release: November 1-May 14   Most other are waters year-round
South DakotaYear-round unless otherwise posted
TennesseeCertain waters have specific trout fishing seasons depending on the area   All other water is open year-round
TexasYear-round-unless otherwise posted
UtahYear-round unless otherwise posted
VermontSecond Saturday of April through October 31
VirginiaYear-round unless otherwise posted
WashingtonLakes and reservoirs: year round   Streams, Rivers and Beaver Ponds: Memorial day to October 31
West VirginiaYear-round unless otherwise posted
WisconsinEarly Inland Waters: January 1 to May 6   Inland Waters: May 7 to October 15   Lake Michigan Lake Trout: March 1 to October 31.   Lake Superior: December 1 to September 30.
WyomingYear-round unless otherwise posted

Canada Trout Fishing Seasons

AlbertaYear-round unless otherwise posted
British ColumbiaYear-round unless otherwise posted
ManitobaYear-round unless otherwise posted
New BrunswickYear-round unless otherwise posted
NewfoundlandYear-round unless otherwise posted
Nova ScotiaApril 1 to September 30
OntarioFourth Saturday in April to September 30
Prince Edward IslandApril 15 to September 30   Extended Season: October 1 to December 31
QuebecYear-round unless otherwise posted
SaskatchewanSouthern Zone: May 5- March 31   Central Zone: May 15-March 31   Northern Zone: May 25-April 15

Why Are There Trout Fishing Seasons?

In today’s day in age, trout are becoming more and more protected. Many other countries create their seasons and limits based on the United States and Canadian seasons.

These seasons play an important role in protecting trout for generations to come.

1. Protect Fish Populations

The most obvious reason fishing seasons are in place is to protect the overall population of the fish an angler is targeting.

However, not all bodies of water or states have seasons that line up with one another.

Certain waters may be more highly targeted than others, so states and provinces must step in and impose a fishing season so anglers aren’t keeping fish year-round.

Seasons will keep things in check and allow everyone to harvest trout.

Do check out my article on Why is Trout Population Decreasing where I’ve discussed this issue in detail.

Protect Fish Populations

2. Protect the Spawn

Another reason fishing seasons exist is to protect the spawn.

Wild and native trout are becoming rare across North America, so prohibiting anglers from keeping fish during the spawn will allow the fish populations to grow and reproduce without interruptions.

Suppose an angler mistakenly keeps a spawning female rainbow trout. In that case, the angler may have accidentally removed upwards of 3,000 eggs from one river or stream.

This removal of one fish can greatly diminish future fish populations. Rainbow trout take upwards of three years to sexually mature and participate in the spawn (read more in my article on Rainbow Trout Habitat).

Keeping that one fish has ruined three years of natural work, and it could destroy thousands of other rainbow trout’s lives.

Generally, trout are going to spawn in the fall or in the spring.

So, states will close the fishing season in time to allow the trout to spawn in the fall and wait to open it up until the trout have finished spawning in the spring.

For example, brown trout are a fall-spawning fish in North America, so states with wild and native brown trout populations will close the fishing season in October or November to let the spawn occur.

Now, this doesn’t mean you aren’t able to fish for trout after the season, but you aren’t able to keep any of the fish you land.


Many anglers need clarification about fishing seasons and catch-and-release.

If a state, province, specific fish, or specific body of water has a fishing season, that doesn’t mean you can’t fish outside of those dates.

The seasons are in-place to let anglers know they cannot keep fish outside of those specific dates. For example, the trout fishing season in Minnesota is from April 15-October 31.

You can practice catch-and-release for trout during all other times of the year, but you can only keep trout from April 15-October 31. 

Suppose you keep trout outside of those specific dates. In that case, you are subject to whatever punishments the local DNR, Game and Fish Department, or Parks and Wildlife Department deem fit.

Most trout anglers practice catch-and-release all year because of the desire to keep trout populations healthy. Keeping vs. catching and releasing is a moral and ethical dilemma for anglers.

As long as you only keep fish within the specific dates, there will be no legal issues.

Most States Have Special Trout Seasons and Regulations

As mentioned earlier, trout are an extremely volatile fish.

The ever-changing ecosystem requires local game and fish agencies and natural resource departments to pay close attention to how the trout are doing in real-time.

If changes need to happen, agents can introduce special seasons and regulations that will only be lifted when they feel things have improved.

1. Special Seasons for Certain Trout

Most states have seasons for the trout they want living in their waters. For example, in Montana, bull trout are a heavily protected fish.

In 2022, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Agency only opened one body of water (Hungry Horse Reservoir) to bull trout harvesting from the third Saturday in May to August 15.

Anglers had to have a special tag and were only allowed one fish. In the entire season, anglers were only allowed two fish.

These special seasons and regulations change every single year all over North America. As scientists closely study the health of the trout populations, they put special seasons in place to protect certain fish.

While the traditional trout fishing season may be from April 15-October 1, some fish may not qualify for that depending on their overall health.

Many trout are closely protected, but certain states and provinces may leave the season open all year for the trout they do not want in their waters.

Suppose rainbow trout take over native brook trout or wild brown trout habitat.

In that case, states will allow anglers to catch and keep as many rainbow trout as they like because they want to keep those wild and native fish species healthy.

Due to the consistent changes and updates, anglers need to stay up-to-date with current rules and regulations in our states.

The local game and fish departments, DNR, and parks and wildlife departments do their best to inform citizens of the ever-changing seasons.

Still, we must do our own research to ensure we’re continually following the rules.

Game and fish agencies will put out information on their websites or even post things at access points if there are changes.

These signs must be read to ensure you aren’t breaking the rules and fishing in the proper season.

Special Seasons for Certain Trout

2. Special Seasons for Rivers, Streams, and Lakes

More commonly, states and provinces will have special seasons for specific bodies of water.

A stocked, local trout pond will likely be a year-round trout fishery because there aren’t wild or native fish in it that need to be protected.

The pond may have been created and stocked for people to enjoy whenever they want.

However, a nearby Wild and Natural River may only have a trout season that lasts two months because of the need to protect the fish numbers.

Nearly every state and province in the United States and Canada has a special season for trout water.

If you know you will be fishing a protected body of water for protected fish, do thorough research to find out exactly when and how to catch the fish.

Some bodies of water are even divided into different sections.

Those sections may have their own seasons depending on how they fared the previous years and what changes local game and fish agencies are attempting to make in the current year.

State websites will have up-to-date information about what bodies of water have certain trout fishing seasons. Also, access points will have signs saying when trout season begins and ends.

Plus, it’ll likely include what types and how many fish you can keep.

While these special rules and regulations can be frustrating for anglers because it can be challenging to know all of the information simultaneously, it’s for the greater good of the fish and fishery.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, so checking state websites or speaking with a local game and fish representative will protect you most.

When Is Trout Fishing Best? 

Generally, spring, early summer, and fall are the best times of year to catch trout.

Many states and provinces have their fishing seasons lined up with the most productive times of the year, so anglers can target trout when they’re healthy and most eager to feed.

In the spring and early summer, trout are coming from a long winter and looking forward to feeding during the warmer months. Hatches occur when temperatures rise, and then fishing gets hot.

They have likely spent several months conserving energy and feeding on easy meals. In the spring, they’re more eager to go after larger baits and put themselves more at risk for a full meal.

In the fall, trout know that the weather will change and water temperatures will drop. The initial temperature drop after the warm summer usually sparks a feeding frenzy.

Trout aren’t stuck in the deep pools lacking energy because water temperatures have continued to rise over the summer.

They feel more energized and willing to go to all sections of the water and pursue whatever food they desire.


Trout are a complicated and needy fish. They require specific water temperatures, oxygen levels, and food to thrive and survive.

As a result, state and province game and fish departments are stuck trying to do their best to keep populations healthy and please anglers.

The goal of protecting fish is why seasons exist. Trout fishing seasons allow state departments and anglers to work together to ensure that trout populations can sustain themselves for years.

Following these seasons is vital for the overall health of trout fisheries.

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not freshwater fishing in the nearest creek or enjoying saltwater fishing by taking boats far in the ocean.

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