11/30/09
Insects and other foods the trout may be eating:
1.   Blue-winged Olives
2.   Great Brown Autumn Sedge
3.   Little Yellow Quills
4.   Needle Stoneflies
5.   Crane Flies
6.   Hellgrammite
7.   Streamers - matching sculpin, baitfish and small crayfish
8.   Midges

Basics of Fly Fishing: Trout Food Series - Top 10 Things Trout Eat

1. Aquatic Insects:
The word aquatic means living in or on water. An aquatic insect is an insect that
lives in the water for most of its life.
These insects represent a huge proportion of what trout eat. In some streams and
lakes, aquatic insects represent the majority of what the trout eat. In the Smokies,
they represent the majority of the food trout eat.
Mayflies, caddisflies, midges, stoneflies, damselflies, dragonflies are some of the
aquatic insects that exist in the streams of the smokies. Don't worry about
remembering all of them now. We will get to them later. Just remember that the bulk
of the trout's food in the Smokies and many other streams, are aquatic insects,
meaning insects that live in the water for most of their life.

2. Terrestrial Insects:
A terrestrial insect is an insect that lives on land. It is almost the opposite of the
aquatic insect in that respect.
Examples of terrestrial insects are beetles, ants, crickets, moths, and grasshoppers.
These insects can represent a portion of what trout eat. In the Smokies, my own
personal guess is, that they represent less than ten percent of the food the trout
eat but that doesn't mean that terrestrials are not important. When trout feed on
terrestrial insects, it may well be about the only thing they are eating.

3. Crustaceans:
Crustacean comes from the word crustaceus, meaning having a hard shell.
Examples of crustaceans are crayfish, scuds and sowbugs. The streams of the
Smokies are full of crayfish. Contrary to what many anglers may think, trout do eat
them. The larger sizes of crayfish are mostly eaten by large brown trout and
smallmouth bass, but the smaller ones are eaten by all sizes of trout.

4. Minnows:
Minnows are the largest family of fish there is. There are over 1500 species of them
in the United States. They represent a part of the trout's diet in the Smokies.
Examples of minnows are the Black Nose Dace, and other dace, chubs and
shinners.
For those interested in looking up more information about them, minnows are the
Cyprinidae family of fish.

5. Sculpins:
Sculpins are large flat head fish that live on the bottom of streams. They are
smooth skin fish. The streams of the Smokies are full of these small fish. They
represent a part of the trout's diet.
For those who are interested in looking up additional information on them, they are
members of the Cottidae family of fish.

6. Sticklebacks:
These little fish get their name from the fact they can extend and lock their dorsal
fins in place. They have the same habitat as trout. They prefer cold water streams.
Those interested in additional information should look them up under their family
name - Gasterosteidae.

7. Aquatic Worms:
Another important food item in many trout streams is the aquatic worm. They exist in
the streams of the Smokies to some extent but are far more important in some of
our local tailwaters such as the Clinch River. We have found large concentrations of
them there. These are usually very small, averaging maybe a half inch long.  
For additional information, they are members of the Lumbriculidae family.

8. Leeches:
A leech is a creature, often called a blood sucker, that lives mostly in still water such
as ponds and lakes. They exist in the Smokies but are not really an important food
item for trout. They are present in many of them in our local lakes and tailwaters.
There are four different families of leeches.

9. Snails and Clams:
Snails are another source of food for trout in some locations. They are found mostly
where vegetation is found in lakes and streams. Spring creeks usually have plenty
of them. They exist in some of our tailwaters.

10: Trout Offspring:
Trout will eat their own offspring. As bad as its seems, that is a fact. Thank
goodness they don't eat them all. They also eat fish eggs.

The above items represent just about everything eaten by a trout. It consist of
insects, both those found in the water and on land, three different categories of
fish, crustaceans such as crayfish, and a few odd items (odd for the Smokies) such
as worms, leeches and snails. When I say you can look up additional info, I don't
mean to imply that is necessary. It isn't. I am providing that information only to
define exactly what the common names are referring to.

Stream and Lake Destinations - South Fork of the Snake River in
Idaho
Continuing on with the Snake River from yesterday's Henry's Fork of the Snake, we
have the
South Fork of the Snake. It is strictly a tailwater and one that is strictly
controlled by authorities acting on behalf of the local farmers. It is one tailwater
where you can only get a good idea of what to expect in the way of discharges from
experience. There is no schedule that you can rely on.

This is another example of where rainbow trout that were stocked at one time in the
past are displacing the native species of Yellowstone and Snake River cutthroat
trout. They are encouraging the harvest of rainbow and hybrid trout caught. Strict
catch and release rules are in effect for the native cutthroats. They do not know if
this will fix the problem or not.




Copyright 2009 James Marsh