Actually seeing what they're eating

#1
As a newbie fishing local Fidalgo Island lakes I have mostly been using Wooly Buggers and leeches with a sinking line. Tim's book clued me in to this (with major success). I've been reading Dave Hughes book and am thinking of trying more of a "match the hatch" strategy (just for the heck of it). So.. I want to see what they are eating. Throat pumps, aquarium nets, chicken eggs left in the water to see what the leeches look like (color and size) , kicking over logs and rocks, catching minnows etc.. Not so much interested in midges (yet) but I have actually seen (close up) darn few things that these fish are feeding on.... and I would like to. Jim
 

Buzzy

Active Member
#2
Jim - you might look to see if there are any “hatch charts” for your home waters. My last several outings there was virtually no visible hatch.

I personally rarely use a throat pump as it seems fighting the trout is enough stress. On rare occasions I retain a fish - remember high school biology and dissecting pickled frogs? Works on trout. Good luck!
 
#3
One hatch chart shows "fall" chironomids=23%.. scuds=24% leeches=14% and other food makes up the rest. I'm trying to clue into the visible hatches, but so far that has been elusive. Throat pumps do seem "invasive" but it would have been nice to know what that last 22" brown was feeding on (besides my mohair leech). I tend to be inquisitive (nerdy) and have a few loupes and magnifying glasses that I like to use to see what my eyes alone cannot. Dragging a fine mesh net through the weeds could prove to be enlightening. I dissected a cat in high school. Maybe thats one reason why cats love it when I pet them.
 

Stonefish

Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater
#4
Jim,
Look in the gallery for a member named “filson”
and look through his pictures.
He has a really nice picture of the minnows you’ve been seeing at one of the lakes you’ve been fishing.
SF
 
#5
So .. in Tim's first book ( which I am forever grateful for) WHEN-WHERE-HOW-WHAT in that order. When=when I can fish..Where= where I can fin my tube and how deep I fish..How=presentation and stripping technique. (somewhat simplified but) That leaves the WHAT. Granted it is the least important factor, however it is something I wish to consider further. I gather that fish feeding (on whatever) will likely snack on a leech but (for instance) knowing what color leech they are accustomed to might be beneficial. Matching the minnow (size) might be as well. Scuds, crawdads etc. In short, I simply want to actually look at the prevailing food source. I guess my question is.. how do you folks go about collecting samples of food sources ? Or do you? Jim
 
#6
In short, I simply want to actually look at the prevailing food source. I guess my question is.. how do you folks go about collecting samples of food sources ? Or do you? Jim
I can speak for myself. I sorta care what they are feeding on, but mostly when I’m not catching. I enjoy fishing a certain way and prefer to do that. I like to indicator fish and will start with that with my usual suspects hanging under the indicator. I adjust from there. If the fishing is tough, I will start working harder, changing up frequently, taking throat samples, etc. Actually I prefer to dry fly fish on lakes and will do that if the opportunity presents itself, such as Leech Lake.

Wayne
 
#7
I use a throat pump regularly. For my fishing, it’s most useful when I’m using an indicator during heavy hatches and fish get selective. Seeing what fish in a certain area are feeding on versus what I’m offering can be really interesting. Often I have been able to make a proactive switch to keep up with the bugs, and as a result continue to catch fish when the bite had tapered off with a different pattern. This can be really obvious with a two fly setup.

It’s also interesting to see how much daphnia shows up in throat samples some days when other food sources aren’t available. Many times I’m convinced patterns don’t matter nearly as much as depth and location.
 

Krusty

Active Member
#8
I don't think fish feeding habits on the alpine lakes I fish are hatch driven, but rather more related to pure opportunity to snatch up whatever is available (and small fish, leeches, and husky nymphs are always available). I've done well during mayfly hatches fishing deep wetflies. In fact I've hooked larger fish during such events fishing large wetflies, and switched to a dryfly only to find I was catching consistently smaller fish on surface takes. I think the big boys (the survivors!) like the security of greater depth, and take advantage of larger size to take larger prey that provides a less episodic, safer, and more dependable source of calories.
 
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Buzzy

Active Member
#9
I use a throat pump regularly. For my fishing, it’s most useful when I’m using an indicator during heavy hatches and fish get selective. Seeing what fish in a certain area are feeding on versus what I’m offering can be really interesting. Often I have been able to make a proactive switch to keep up with the bugs, and as a result continue to catch fish when the bite had tapered off with a different pattern. This can be really obvious with a two fly setup.

It’s also interesting to see how much daphnia shows up in throat samples some days when other food sources aren’t available. Many times I’m convinced patterns don’t matter nearly as much as depth and location.
Troutpocket - when you find a lot of daphnia in a throat sample what’s your most frequent next step? This past spring I had a hard time getting anything dialed in at the lake out of Odessa- The daphnia bloom (hatch?) had the normal tanin stain nearly red.
 
#12
Very cool input folks. Reminds me of the movie "Jaws" when they found the license plate. I have not gutted a trout in many years and have never used a throat pump or an aquarium net. But I plan on doing all those things in the future. A very successful commercial fisherman friend of mine said that he learned in the SEAL team that knowing the feeding habits of the enemy (or fish) can be very "rewarding". That statement has always stuck with me. Jim
 
#15
To me just look at the lake and see what is floating on the surface or turn over a submerged rock. You will get an idea what is there. I have a box full of flys and I bought them for some reason. Some fliys give me confidence that I will land a fish. Other flys just sit in the box. I fish the other flys when I need to know if they work. The bottom line is don’t over think fishing. Just fish.