Anyone who fishes wonders if fish feed at night, or only in the day like us humans. Do they eat at night, what would they eat, don’t they sleep? These are just some of the questions that all of us anglers have thought about at least once while fishing, and we are here to answer that question for you.
The answer is YES. But there’s a bit more to that answer. Trout are typically considered picky eaters. We’re not talking picky like your cat that only eats the most expensive wet food you can find and turns its nose up at kibble. We’re also not talking about the kid down the street that won’t eat vegetables even if they are blended into a smoothie because he dislikes anything green that comes out of dirt. However, trout are picky enough eaters to fall somewhere between the two examples here.
However, since the brain of the average trout is miniscule compared to that of the average trout fisherman, we have figured out the feeding habits of trout. Well, at least we know enough about their habits to be on the lake at about the right time to catch us a few bigguns. As simple as that sounds, there are a few variables to consider and we’ll cover all of them here.
Here is your trout feeding schedule
They Feed Early In The Morning
Trout will feed generally from dawn to about mid-morning. Of course, there are some variables to consider. They include the time of year, the temperature of the water, what the trout feel like feeding on today/this hour and what kind of feed happens to be available.
They Also Feed In The Early Evening
Your second trout fishing opportunity during the average day is between dusk and darkness. Again, the variables above also apply and this is pretty much what makes trout fishing challenging and rewarding. They don’t normally appear during the day.
Let’s Take A Closer Look At One Of The Variables
We mentioned that the time of year has an impact on the feeding of trout. Essentially, summertime is the most challenging. That’s simply because the water is warmer and as a result, trout will plunge into deeper parts of the lake in search of cooler water to hang out and go to school (fish pun intended). That doesn’t mean you can’t catch ‘em, either. You just have to use that bigger than a fish brain and hatch a plan or two that may trick ‘em.
Hatching A Plan
Let’s talk a bit about bugs. Fish a pretty keen on eating bugs but one of the things that really gets them motivated to bite on anything that moves is the new hatch. In other words, the freshly hatched insects that have no clue that within their first hour of existence they will become food. Sure, trout like most any kind of bug but after awhile they crave something different and the new hatch satisfies them. It’s a lot like if you are a pepperoni pizza fan and each time you get a pizza, it’s a pepperoni variety. Then one day you decide to go to a different section of the frozen pizza aisle and choose a cheese pizza to shake it up a bit. Suddenly, you discover that the cheese pizza is to your liking and you start buying them for the next little while. Trout feed that way, minus the pizza parts. However, they also like worms so mixing up your bait choices isn’t going to hurt your chances much at all.
Another Insider Tip
Did you know that trout can see colors? This can be to your advantage when fishing for trout at night. This is especially true when you have a brightly colored piece of metal attached to your line. Fish see these things as toys and will often chase them to see what’s going on. The worm or bug at the end of the line they are following is basically their reward for chasing after that shiny, spinning thing that made sounds underwater and got their attention. Naturally, you get rewarded once the hook sets and you spill your beer when line starts to peel off of your reel. You know, good times.
Remember when we said that the brain of a trout is considerably smaller than yours? Well, we meant that. As a result, trout don’t typically spend a lot of time looking for food. You could call them a bit on the lazy side. The average trout won’t work hard for food so that’s why it’s pretty much a safe bet that if you drop a line anywhere near one that happens to feel a bit on the hungry side in the early morning or early evening, you are going to get bites. In fact, the science behind trout fishing is not really all that scientific. It’s based a lot more on the “right time, right place” theory. Sorry to wreck that part for you, guys.
The Right Place Part of The Equation
Sure, you can cover a lot of square footage hunting down trout at the peak feeding time you have selected as your ‘right time’ part of your fishing trip. However, you do need to concentrate on the most likely – and most logical – places they are going to be hanging out during feeding times. That actually happens to be an easy one to explain. All you need to do is locate yourself in close proximity to any natural feeding source. So, think bugs and try to imagine where new hatches could be found.
To save you some GPS time, here are a few hints of where you should be able to find trout feeding in the early morning or at night. If you are fishing along rivers and streams, your likely trout hang outs will be around logs, fallen trees, banks and in currents. For lake fishing, trout will take the easy way out. Remember, they are kinda lazy. So, you should find them at any water source that feeds into the lake. Also, if it has been a sunny day, go deep.
Remember our pizza example? Well, there are going to be times when your boat is sitting on top of a swirling sea of activity as the fish below and around you are in a feeding frenzy. And there are going to be times in those feeding frenzies that your line with that great looking insect or worm on it is going to be ignored. Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. It’s just that the trout aren’t eating what you are serving tonight. That’s you cue to reel in and switch bait. If you get nothing after another 15-minutes, switch it again. Sooner or later you will find the right menu item for that specific moment in time. That is, provided you happen to get your bait switched and the trout are still feeding. We did warn you, it has a lot to do with right time, right place. You can also add ‘right bait’ to that list. Plus, if you don’t happen to succeed this morning, there’s always tonight because trout do feed at night. If you strike out then, don’t worry. There’s always tomorrow or you could just try another lake, river or stream. Regardless of how long it may take to actually hit the right combination of conditions, when you do…you will be richly rewarded.