Why a stomach pump?
The stomach pump is one of the most useful tools an angler can carry while fishing the Bighorn River because it helps you pinpoint exactly what insect the trout are feeding on. The biomass and diversity of aquatic insects found in any tailwater are so immense that the trout can have a multitude of food choices to feed upon at any given time. Being able to determine which food the trout are feeding on as quickly as possible will bring the angler the most success.
Trout during any time of the year can be feeding on a variety of crustaceans, annelids, mayflies, caddis and midges. On a macro level you will want to determine what food group the trout is feeding on and on a micro level exactly what species of mayflies, caddis, midge, etc they are feeding on and what stage of the insects emergence if possible. In the spring for example, midge larva and pupa can be found in a variety of colors. The trout can feed on any one color of pupa at any point throughout the day. A stomach pump can help you quickly determine exactly what color and stage of the emergence that it is feeding on so we can match our imitation accordingly. In the summer a multitude of hatches can overlap at any given time. Trico’s, pseudo’s, black caddis and pmd’s can all be found at the same time. Pumping the trout’s stomach pump will help you pinpoint exactly what flies you should be fishing.
For example, in the spring if a trout is feeding on cream midge larva predominantly and an angler is fishing a black larva, they may catch a fish or two opportunistically anyways. However, if they were fishing a cream midge imitation they would probably catch far more trout. This an example at a micro level. In the summer an angler may be fishing a sowbug and black caddis pupa. They catch one on the sowbug, pump the stomach and realize the trout had a few sowbugs in it and several pseudo nymphs. Without pumping the trout’s stomach they may have gone all day without ever fishing a pseudo nymph. This is an example at the micro level. Anytime that hatches overlap throughout the year the stomach pump is a useful tool, it will keep you in the ball game, especially if you are fishing water that is new to you.
How to use a stomach pump?
The anglers that know how to use a stomach pump use them religiously, and for others that have not seen it done before can find it hard to understand and are often intimidated to try it. When done right it doesn’t hurt the fish and is a very quick process. I will try to explain the steps here to go along with the video. I have found that trout in the 13″ – 17″ range are the easiest to pump and rainbows tend to be easier to pump than browns, since in my experience their stomach cavity seems easier to find.
- Fill the stomach pump full of water by slightly depressing the rubber ball.
- Insert the stomach pump into the trout – the key here is to slowly insert the tube into the trout’s mouth and push it straight in until you feel a small opening. This opening is the stomach cavity. After inserting the tube into the trout’s mouth you will feel pressure against the tube until you reach the stomach cavity. Stop there.
- At this point slightly compress the rubber ball so a portion of the water leaves the tube and is deposited in the trout’s stomach and then quickly decompress the ball again to suck the contents up into the tube. This should only take a second. The key here is to slightly depress the rubber ball, do not squeeze the ball completely or it will be more difficult to suck the stomach contents back up into the tube because you will loose the pressure in the tube.
- Remove the tube from the fish
- Squirt stomach pump contents out into your hand and evaluate what you see
- Match your imitation accordingly
This post was written by Bighornangler