Where Trout Feed: Identify the Feeding Lanes
There’s no fish in this river! Ever say that one before. Who has said that one before, I know I have. It’s often been said that 90% of the fish are in 10% of the river. I’m not so sure about the complete accuracy of this one but know where fish feed can be the difference between landing fish and taking scenery pics.
In still water fishing, the predator chases the prey. There’s little water movement for the most part, hence the term still water. However, it does move a bit. Wind will blow around plankton and invertebrates, bait fish will chase them, in turn the predator fish will chase the bait fish. The predator fish are on the move, stalking and feeding. In river fishing, the opposite holds true.
The river acts as a food conveyor. It tumbles dislodged nymphs, worms, and baitfish on down the river. They don’t tumble down the river evenly. They follow specific paths created by the topography of the riverbed, obstructions, current flows, and bends in the river. The path this forage follows are called feeding lanes.
So, the key is to identify feeding lanes. As a river meanders back and forth, a channel is created going from outside bend, to outside bend. The deepest part of the river is not in the middle equidistant from each bank. In geological terms, this is called the thalweg. This is the line of fastest flow and due to erosion, this is also the deepest point in the riverbed.
Photo Credit K.A. Lemke
The thalweg is the primary feeding lane for trout. Learn to identify it, become a better fisherman. The key here is to understand a bit of trout behavior. Trout do not generally want to be in strong current, they wish to conserve their energy. Swimming all day and night in the strongest current will exhaust the fish. However, the strong current brings the food. The key here is to identify slower moving water, structure, and breaks in the flow directly adjacent to the thalweg. These are your prime spots.
In the photo above, you’re looking for inside bends, pools, cut banks and riffles. Boulders are also fantastic spots as are any sort of fallen trees and other structure in or adjacent to the thalweg that break up the flow.
Trout are hierarchical in nature. Size matters. A larger female will be dominant over a smaller male. The largest fish, will get the prime feeding lane. It won’t be the only fish in that lane though. Trout will group up in prime fishing lanes following a feeding order. If the largest fish say rises up and feeds, the next largest will quickly take its place…until the largest returns. If you're catching small fish for the body of water you are in.....you're probably not in the primary feeding lane
That’s it for now my fishy friends. Tight Lines and Screaming Drags.
Please remember: Pack it in, Pack it out.