The Trout Stomach Pump
I would consider the stomach pump one of the most important pieces of equipment I carry on my boat. I would have to say that the majority of my clients have never seen a fish’s stomach pumped before and are typically astonished by what comes out. The stomach contents of a feeding trout allow you to look much deeper into the habits and behavior of a trout and can lead to much higher angler success.
Tailwater rivers for are loaded with aquatic insects and trout tend to key in on one insect in particular at one time better than the rest. A trout’s feeding behavior and bug du jour can change at any time. By using your stomach pump you can quickly decipher what a trout has keyed on, in most cases. For example, trout on the Bighorn River will eat a sow bug just about any day of the year. By pumping the trout’s stomach you may find that while that trout fed opportunistically on your sowbug imitation, its stomach content was loaded with cream midges. By dropping a cream midge off the back of your sowbug, you may have just turned your average day into a great day with this small bit of information.
It seems that far more people use stomach pumps on tailwater rivers than freestone rivers, but the same rules can apply for freestone rivers. Stomach pumps can identify certain characteristics of feeding behavior that can change the way you fish and the success you have on the water. For example, let’s say that you get on the water around 9 am and no fish are rising, so you fish attractor nymphs on the bottom. You catch your first fish of the day, you pump its stomach and you find fresh midge dries in it’s stomach. You know you arrived too late and you can adjust accordingly the next day.
Various insects may also look different from one river to the next. Baetis nymphs in the Bighorn may not appear the same as on the Yellowstone. Using your stomach can help you learn a lot about the trout in a new river quickly and allow you to gain first hand knowledge of the river, rather than what the guy at the shop told you.
If you’ve never used one before, give it a try. It will provide you with invaluable insight.
This post was written by Bighornangler