Do Trout Feed Off The Bottom

Unlike catfish and carp, trout are not bottom feeders.

However, trout are known to feed at or near the bottom, often waiting to snatch any food that happens to drift by.

It just so happens that this often occurs within 2 to 3 feet of the bottom.

Do Trout Feed on Top or Bottom?

One of the most common misconceptions about trout is that they feed mostly at the surface of the water.

This misconception is derived from the fact that most anglers only see the fish-eating insects from the surface of the water. After all, flies are the most common lures for catching trout.

The fact is that trout spend only a small amount of their time feeding near the surface of the water.

Instead, most trout tend to feed at or near the bottom. It just so happens that anglers are only able to see the trout that come up towards the surface in order to feed.

It is estimated that surface feeding makes up a mere 10 percent of a trout’s overall diet. Another 10 percent of their feeding occurs just under the surface, but more than 75 percent of their diet is caught at or near the bottom.

Despite the fact that trout spend most of their time feeding at or near the bottom, they are also very watchful of their surroundings. Whenever a delicious tidbit flows by, a trout will rise up to the occasion in order to grab it.

The same can also be said when an insect lands on the surface of the water, a trout will swim to the surface in order to strike.

Do Trout Feed on The Bottom?

Although trout typically feed at or near the bottom, they are not bottom feeders.

An estimated 75% of their entire diet comes from the region of the water that is nearest to the bottom. From time to time, trout are also known to strike at mayfly nymphs, snails, as well as caddis larva. They may even use their snout to move the sediment around in order to dislodge a potential meal. If a worm peeks out from the bottom, they are certain to grab a hold.

Trout are aggressive feeders, and when they see food they will try to catch it.

It’s not uncommon for trout in the river to snag any and all crayfish that they find. Even brown trout are known to patrol estuaries looking for mud crabs to eat. They are also known to snag up clams, mussels, as well as other mollusks.

What Do Trout Eat From The Bottom?

Considering such a large portion of their feeding comes from the bottom, trout are often seen feeding on a wide variety of insects, worms, and mollusks that can be found at or near the bottom of lakes, estuaries, and rivers.

They simply love the taste of nymphs, including dragonflies, stoneflies, mayflies, as well as caddis. Trout are also known to grab a hold of snails, worms, clams, mussels, crabs, crawfish, as well as any other insect, mollusk, or crustacean they come across.

Is It Possible to Catch Trout Feeding on Clams, Snails, and Mussels?

It’s so commonplace to see trout feeding on snails, clams, and mussels, that many anglers wonder if it’s even possible to catch fish that prefer this type of diet.

The most difficult part of fishing for trout that prefer this type of meal is the selection of lures that are available. Although it’s possible to find clam flies, and snail flies, there really aren’t many options for muscles.

Instead, when it comes to catching trout who prefer to feed from the bottom, most anglers simply use a traditional fly or a spinner. However, it’s definitely a good suggestion to keep snail flies and clam flies in the tackle box, just in case they are needed.

Trout Bottom Rig

One of the best rigs for catching trout from the bottom is to use a spinner.

There are two main ways to catch trout using spinners, and they both come down to technique. The most common technique is to attempt to replicate the way that the trout’s natural prey moves through the water.

However, most anglers just simply want to throw in their spinner in hopes of getting some kind of reaction.

Worm setups are also an excellent option for catching trout from the bottom.

A good setup will leave the worm floating just above the bottom to allow the tail of the worm to wiggle. This form of setup takes a little more effort, as the worm should be slightly above the bottom, but not so much that it is suspended in the water.

Nymphs are also a great way of catching trout from the bottom.

It is generally recommended to use split shot or even drop weights in order to cast nymphs out and present them to the trout. While a split shot is considered to be more difficult to cast, it makes a smaller splash which is less likely to scare off the trout.

What Determines the Feeding Depth of a Trout?

There are a number of factors that determine just how deep a trout will feed. The most important factors are the temperature of the water, the availability of food, as well as the velocity of the water. Each of these affects the trout’s feeding habits drastically.


Without a question, the temperature of the water is one of the most important factors that determine the depth of feeding for a trout.

Since trout are considered to be cold-blooded, they tend to slow down when the water is too cool. As they become more sluggish, trout tend to feed less.

At the same time, if the water is just too hot, the trout will not get enough oxygen and, therefore, will also stop feeding.

It’s important to make sure that when fishing for trout, an angler chooses water that is within the trout’s comfort range.

During the summer months, most trout go to deeper pools of water simply because they are cooler. The opposite happens in the wintertime, as trout make their way to shallower flats in order to warm up under the sun.

Regardless of whether it is winter or summer, and whether the trout is at the bottom of a lake or along a flat, 75 percent of all of the trout meals are caught near or at the bottom.

The greatest difference is, is that when feeding on flats and estuaries, trout tend to dig into the sediment in order to feed, whereas when feeding in deep lakes, they focus on plankton and krill that are suspended just above the bottom.

Food Availability

Trout, like most predators, are migratory. Simply put, they tend to move where the food is most available.

Once mayflies and caddis begin to hatch, it’s commonplace to see trout making their way up to the surface in order to feed. At the same time, when the wind is blowing harder, and there is a greater chance of terrestrial insects being blown into the water, trout will also feet at the surface.

The vast majority of the time, trout have little reason to feed from the surface.

Although mayflies and terrestrial insects are a welcomed treat, it is a rare occasion for the trout to find a succulent bite. Instead, most of the food that they eat will be found at or near the bottom.

It’s commonplace to find trout making their way through weed beds in order to feed off of anything that it finds clinging to the plants.

Water Velocity

Although capable of swimming through extremely fast water and jumping up to 5 times their body length, trout are generally considered to be very lazy fish.

That is, while they are excellent predators, they spend most of their time waiting for the food to come to them rather than having to chase after it.

They are opportunistic hunters, trout love spending time in rivers and streams simply because the flowing water brings food to them.

As a general rule of thumb, trout will be found near the top, when the current is moving faster, and at the bottom when the current is slower. They tend to stay close to the current itself, in secluded pools where they do not need to put forth much effort to sit and wait for their prey.

They will spend most of their time waiting for a succulent bite to pass by in the current, then strike. When fishing in a river or lake, it is always best to cast upstream so that the lure passes by the pools where the trout are waiting to pounce.

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