What Do Trout Eat?

So what do trout eat anyway?  Trout eat many things.  They are opportunistic while being selective.  They can eat everything from insects to other trout and crustaceans to algae.  What they decide to eat greatly depends on where they live and the time of year.

Remember as a kid fishing with worms you dug out of your parent’s yard?  Some fly fishermen will tell you trout don’t eat worms.  Not true.  I have pumped hundreds of worms from one trout alone.  They love to eat worms.  However, worms are not always available to be eaten.  Springtime is great for worms.  The streams are higher with runoff and worms are plentiful in the water column.

What do trout eat? Crayfish

Trout eat Crustaceans.

“Crayfish don’t live in the rivers by me.”  You would be surprised to find out they probably do.  Trout eat them up.  While they are not as visible as other food sources, they are there and trout are eating them.

Have you ever caught a trout and its belly felt like it was full of pebbles?  What could that be?  Sometimes trout will forage on small snails found in some rivers.

What do trout eat?  Mice? Yep.

You have heard it before.  Trout eat mice.  Huge trout.  While huge trout eat mice, average size trout do too.  I once was releasing a 15-inch cutthroat trout only to have him puke out remains of a mouse he had recently eaten!  Nasty to say the least.  I have seen a mouse swimming across the Henry’s Fork River.  He was a lucky little mouse.  He made it to shore.

Are trout cannibals?  You bet they are.  And not only the big browns.  Just like in the mouse situation above, small and average size trout eat each other.  We have often caught trout that were in the 15-inch range that has had other fish sticking out of their mouth.  They will eat all sizes of trout.

What do trout eat? Snails

“Why on earth would a trout eat moss?”  Not sure, but they do.  Many times you will find a trout full of moss.  I have seen this on the South Fork and the Henry’s Fork.  How many moss flies do you have in your box?

What do trout eat? SculpinAnother strange sort of fish trout eat is sculpin.  Have you ever seen a sculpin?  Think of your fish tank at home.  Recall the weird little fish you use to clean the tank.  A plecostomus.  That is what sculpin remind me of.  Rivers are full of these little fish.  Trout love ’em.

Trout mostly eat insects.

Insects are all over rivers and not on top of the rivers.  Nearly all insects that trout eat originate from beneath the surface of the water.  Nymphs and larvae can be found in nearly every river.  Trout use these as their main source of food.

What do trout eat? StoneflyWith all these different types of food for trout, I suppose the question “What do trout eat” should be “What don’t trout eat?”.