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Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
#529985 01/24/21 05:22 PM
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Hello everyone,

I'd like to share some of my findings on feeding trout through the ice. I have a 1 acre pond in Ontario, Canada stocked with brown trout. They are fed floating pellets in the soft water season, and I wanted to see if I could get them to eat during the winter through the ice, as that makes up a good portion of the year. I was skeptical that sinking feed would work, as I don't think of trout as fish that eat right off the bottom. However, I gave it a try and was impressed with the results.

I made a sinking feed by soaking my floating pellets in water for about 0.5 to 1 hrs and then forming the moist pellets into a dough, with a similar consistency to Powerbait. I made a hole in the ice and then rolled balls of food just smaller than golf balls and dropped them in. I did this for a few days and then dropped an underwater camera. As the video shows (linked below) the fish do attempt to eat off the bottom, and I caught a trout filled with the dough in its stomach.

I am happy that I can now get an extra 4 months of feeding in on my pond while it is iced over.

https://youtu.be/-Oy0LLv7diM /// video


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #529986 01/24/21 07:29 PM
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After drilling the ice hole over deeper water try making some noise in the surface water or under the ice. Maybe tap a stick or broom stick against the hole to attract the trout. If you made this type of noise during the open water season the trout would learn to always come to this noise. Then drop some smaller rolled soft pellets into the hole. You could use the underwater camera to determine when trout are below. When you see the trout drop lots more softened pellets. You may as Cecil Baird found some of the trout will rise to just below the ice for the pellets. Allow the pellets to soak for a longer period to time maybe 4-6 hours. Higher protein trout type pellets soak and soften much better and are pliable than lower protein pellets such as 32%-36% protein. Just enough water to moisten the pellets to where they are the consistency of pie dough that is moldable but not sticks to the fingers. These rolled large pellets can be frozen thawed and used anytime later.

I do this type of winter feeding thing with my yellow perch with the same results as you saw with your trout. Occasionally I have had some perch actually come up into the ice hole for the pellets. Although when the perch are below the hole no pellets make it to the bottom.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/24/21 07:40 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530008 01/25/21 02:55 PM
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Thanks for your reply, Bill. I will use all of that information.

I am wondering if fishing in the same area as feeding is a problem? If I am catching fish in the feeding area, will they avoid that area and, thus, not eat. I am wondering this because if all of the fish are under one place in the ice, you'd think it would be hard to catch them in a completely different area.

Thanks again,


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530022 01/25/21 07:56 PM
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Angling through the ice is not much different fish behavior wise compared to summer open water fishing in regards to creating or producing hook smart fish. Fish can become hook smart due to too frequent fishing and fishing for too long of periods and releasing lots of fish. Each time a fish is caught the experience becomes or serves as negative reinforcement to that fish. It has been proved with research that some fish individuals learn quicker than others.

When I ice fish in an area that has been chummed with pellets, I do not "over fish" that area and only remove a few fish each time. Plus I keep chumming until I quit fishing. I often will go auger a hole in the ice and just feed the fish without angling. I use the underwater camera to make sure fish are eating the sinking pellets. Catch and release fishing during chumming could cause some hook smart fish. If you fish with a different bait than the type of chum used would reduce the problem of making hook smart fish.

You ask ""....if all of the fish are under one place in the ice, you'd think it would be hard to catch them in a completely different area." In my experience the fish will often tend to disperse after several fish are caught and removed. Also fish will only move about 50ft to maybe 80ft to come for pellets. Thus fish a long distance away did not move to the ice hole feeding area. Lack of fish in other areas will depend on how big the pond is and and how many fish are in the pond. The more fish present and bigger the pond the more the fish community will be spread out. Plus ice fishing from just one small area under an ice hole is somewhat different fish behavior wise compared to regular summer fishing where casting and drifting over large areas is used. Only a few fish can gather in one tight spot below a hole in the ice.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/25/21 08:17 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530034 01/26/21 05:29 PM
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Thank you very much for all of that additional information.

In order to avoid the negative reinforcement you mention, I will feed the fish in a different area than I fish from. I will also make sure to use a different bait on my hook. I don't believe hook shy trout are an issue at the moment, as I haven't released any through the ice and very few have been released in general. The only ones that might be hook shy are the few that I have lost while bringing them in. The underwater camera will be a good indicator of if I am feeding and angling in the right areas. I haven't yet figured out where the trout spend time during the winter. I have only had luck angling close to shore in shallower water, but that might be because of the feeding and methods I was using. I will now try chumming as you mentioned as a way to encourage fish to come to the angling area.

Thanks again and I'll update with this week's results.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530035 01/26/21 08:04 PM
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Your methods of places and ways of angling with the trout seem very good and the correct things to do to minimize producing hook smart fish. Possibly catching trout close to shore is due to making noises creating an ice hole and fishing in the area where you feed the fish. Do you also catch the trout in other shallow water areas of the pond? This ice auger noise might attract trout which is why I suggested making noise in a deep water ice hole to hopefully attract inquisitive trout. Making noise should then attract them to any area you are fishing angling? I am not real familiar with trout behavior but I suspect in a pond the trout would roam all over in the pond searching for foods. It is possible the trout frequent the shallow water areas because there are more invertebrates and small fish in the shallows . Try it with some chumming with noise making and report back here with the results. Good luck ice fishing.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/27/21 10:05 AM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530063 01/28/21 06:51 PM
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Thanks again, Bill. I will fish in deeper water this weekend, making noise. I'll be trying worms and a variety of lures to see what works. Some of the more aggressive trout should hit spoons, I would think. I will report back with the results. Thanks again.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530075 01/29/21 09:12 AM
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I have been thinking about running my Texas hunter in the winter where my spring flows into the pond. It remains open year round and with an aerator in 2-3' of water I could keep a large area open for pellets. How deep are you feeding right now? I am hesitant because it will be hard to see if the fish are taking the pellets or not and could easily over feed.

For what it is worth, I have a trout pond and I regularly catch rainbows early and late ice on fathead minnows in the deeper parts of the pond (10-12'). They always seem to move shallower in the middle of winter. I also have been catching most of my brook trout on golden shiners the last few weeks. All of my fish get released for now.

Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530132 01/31/21 12:21 PM
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Thanks for the reply, Chris. I am also concerned about over feeding, so I'm really barely feeding much at all. I would say no more than a handful of pellets a day, three times a week. I'm still figuring it all out. I need to make a new batch of food like Bill suggested. My dough froze rock solid outside and when I thawed it the consistency was ruined. It is now like wet sawdust.

Thanks for the fishing tips. I'm going to try with worms today. Minnows would be my first choice but they are just less convenient.

Thanks again.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530145 01/31/21 08:06 PM
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Adam try using dead frozen minnows with a small size 8 or 6 ice jug/spoon. Collect the small fish in fall and freeze them in a small zip loc bag with a little water that covers and encases the minnows in ice. Lots of fish eagerly eat dead minnows. To make a fish attractor in deeper water try lowering a weight or a weight with some tin lids to the bottom and bouncing it around before bringing it back to the surface. An underwater camera will show the results.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 01/31/21 08:08 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530169 02/01/21 03:17 PM
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I'll pick up some real minnows this week to try, as I want to see how the trout react. Those frozen minnows also sound like a good idea.

By the way, I fished yesterday for a few hours with no bites. I was mostly using two deadstick rods with worms, as I was clearing snow from the ice for most of the time. They are not a common ice bait, but I figured it was worth the shot.

To confirm, clearing snow to increase light penetration is beneficial? We also do it to make a skating area, but lots has been shoveled just to clear the ice in general.

I'll be back at it again today to see what happens with a few different techniques. I'd like to have a camera like an AquaVu with a live screen but I just have a regular waterproof camera that I put down on fishing line with a light, so I can only review the footage after the fact.

Thanks again for all the advice, Bill.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530176 02/01/21 09:41 PM
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My fish are always pretty easy to catch. and it is usually easy to get bites because I regularly feed them. I also chum them with a few soft pellets while ice fishing. I also occasionally feed them during ice cover.
However I have always had very poor fishing success while and just after shoveling lots of snow from large areas of the ice. I think the extensive noise puts them in an 'anxious' or highly excited condition and they are hesitant to feed. I have the same type thing happen when I disturb fish that I am growing in a cage. It takes about one day after the disruption for them to calm down and begin feeding again. Thus now I always allow the fish 24hours after shoveling snow to give them time to 'settle down' and get back to normal before trying to catch them by angling.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/01/21 09:50 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530196 02/02/21 09:52 PM
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It makes sense that shoveling would scare the fish. Today, I picked up some live minnows in small and medium sizes and still could not catch a fish, even after 24 hours since we shoveled. If they reject a live minnow, I'm not sure what they will take. It might be that I'm fishing unproductive water. I'm going to stick the camera down while I'm fishing to see if any trout show interest in the bait and the new pellets I made. Thanks for the help and I'll be updating with new information as it comes up.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530213 02/03/21 11:12 AM
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One acre pond in Canada stocked with brown trout. How many browns do you have in there? Cecil B always said that browns are harder to catch compared to other trout. Could the trout be somewhat hook shy/smart from over fishing and catch and release during open water season?
Could you next year add another type of trout to see how it is to catch them compared to the browns?

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/03/21 11:14 AM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530227 02/03/21 06:39 PM
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Thanks for the reply, Bill.

The pond was stocked 4 years ago with 80 browns at 8-10" in size. This fall, another 80 were added at 10-12" in size. Some of the larger, original trout have been released in open water season, but not that many. Less than 3 this season for sure. Of the newly stocked trout, two have been released. Otherwise, there should be lots of fish that have not been exposed to a hook, as the pond is not fished very often. In total, my guess is around 8-10 trout have been caught in the last 12 months, so I'm not sure if that is considered over fishing or not. The pond is fished a lot, but for short periods of time and most often no trout are caught. I do catch lots of bass in the summer, but I'm not sure if that effects the trout.

I wonder if the weed growth in the pond makes it hard for the trout to hunt? The pond has a major curly leaf pondweed problem, and it seems to be getting worse. I will put a photo from a camera I put down today; it shows a crazy amount of weeds under the ice. The camera was in the place that I fish and zero fish were captured after I dropped pellets down, making me think I might be fishing the wrong area.

Please let me know what you think. I will update this thread as I continue to use the camera to find fish.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530229 02/03/21 08:08 PM
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I too have curly leaf pondweed that I have dealt with for at last round 10-12 years. When the curly leaf at about 2ft to 3 ft tall was abundant during winter ice cover, I had a real hard time catching yellow perch(YP). I am convinced the perch were down in the weeds and did not see or now there was food and bait present. I had to fish above the weed tops and perch were not holding at that depth. When they did find the bait catching fish was easy. I have a lot more YP per acre in my pond than you have trout. I think trout will be much more active in 39F water compared to YP.

I started killing the curly leaf (sonar 10-12ppb) in fall and sometimes AGAIN in the spring when water temps were around 48F-55F. Fall treatment give me a pretty clean bottom during winter. Diquat is another good herbicide for curly leaf. Diquat kills the curly leaf fast and the chemical decomposes fast in a week or two. I have used Sonar for around 6 years now. This pretty well reduced the curly leaf to a rare, short 6"-10" plant on the pond bottom in winter with sparse plants during spring - summer. I did not treat this fall 2020 and since ice has only been 2" thick as of Feb 02, I have not used the camera to check for curly leaf growth on the bottom. Ice is now thick enough for the ice shanty so I will check for plant growth and try to feed perch tomorrow. I have most of the pellets softened and rolled into 1/2" dia pellets. When I feed the pellets the minnows/shiners find the food first and quickly. This attracts the perch.
Time will tell the rest of the story.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/03/21 08:28 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530252 02/04/21 01:44 PM
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I definitely need to find where the fish are holding. How could they ever find a bait in weeds that thick? The fish should be active for sure.


Your control strategy for the curly leaf sounds great. I would really like to use that strategy, but it is nearly impossible to obtain permits and the chemicals to do any treatment on a pond in my province. We tried last year and could not get a permit. Thus, we have had to resort to cutting weeds manually, which is not sustainable. The pond was almost fully cleared by mid July via the weed razor, and then the weeds began to die down anyways. So, the weeds must have grown in the fall. They make fishing very difficult in the summer, and it seems like it will be a winter problem too. Unfortunately, I'm not sure there is that much I can do other than adjust my angling technique.

Please let me know how the feeding goes. I am trying again as well with the camera and will report.

Thanks again.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530264 02/04/21 08:03 PM
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Since I have abundant larger perch in my pond, I did not have any problem getting them to quickly show up and eat sinking pellets in all three deeper water spots that I checked. In two of the spots perch were present on the bottom as soon as I lowered the camera. Once the perch were food inquisitive some were rising from 15ft to 6 and 8 ft of water.

Curly leaf growth was absent in two of the deeper water spots and a few sprouts were seen in 13ft spot. I did not treat the curly leaf last fall, but I did have a lot of adult tilapia in the pond who apparently ate most all the new sprouts from the winter bud turions before the tilapia died.

Curly leaf's life cycle as a cool water plant is to grow and rise to the surface in early summer. At that point it produces seeds and winter buds called turions. The plants then die back mid summer and turions sink to the sediments. Turions sprout in mid-late Aug-September and grow until the water temps drop to around 50F. The short plant growth remains viable as it waits for water temperatures to rise to 50F-55F and it restarts growing toward the surface to complete the annual life cycle. It is easiest to chemically kill the curly leaf when plants are small (12"-3ft tall). Since I saw some small sparse curly leaf plants , I will treat with a 12 ppb dose of sonar in April. My 0.6ac pond has around 1.2million gallons. So to treat with fluridone at 10ppb I use around 55-60 milliliters (2 ounces). I then about 2 weeks later add a bump dosage of another 2 ounces.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/04/21 08:21 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530290 02/05/21 11:43 AM
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I contacted Cecil B about your having a difficult time catching the brown trout. He has extensive experiences with growing various types of trout. Here is what he sent me:
"""Yes all other factors aside browns are much harder to catch than rainbow and brooks. One of my coldwater pond trout management pubs says not to plant them in ponds for that reason. I can send you a link to share on PB if you're interested .The secret is to match the hatch as in if they are fed pellets use Stubby Steve's bait pellet or something similar. We've fished with panfish jigs and caught one brook and tiger trout after another, but no browns even though there were just as many in the pond. As soon as we started fishing pellet imitations that changed. Then even not brown were harvested and had to be seined out. """

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/05/21 11:44 AM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530304 02/05/21 08:33 PM
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Thank you for the information on the perch. I believe my trout are not in the area I am feeding. I tried a slightly different spot today with less weeds for fishing with minnows and had no luck. It seems very surprising a small minnow would be passed up by trout with little pressure, so I think I'm in the wrong spot. I will try the middle of the pond tomorrow.

In terms of the curly leaf, it sounds like it is manageable, as is evident by your pond. Those chemicals and even fish like tilapia are not legal here, so it makes it difficult to control.

Thank you for reaching out to Cecil. It really sounds like they are not easy to catch. I will purchase some of those pellet imitations. Furthermore, I will try tomorrow fishing with the trout food on my hook. I know it's not a good thing long term due to hook shy fish, but it will be a good test of whether or not they are in the area / catchable.

Thanks so much for the advice. More information will come tomorrow. I'll try and have the camera down in different spots as much as possible.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530305 02/05/21 09:11 PM
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Bill, if at all possible, would I be able to have the link Cecil mentioned regarding trout? Thank you.


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530334 02/07/21 08:29 PM
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Here is an update.

I fished yesterday in the middle of the pond, near our floating raft which is frozen in the ice. The depth of the pond is nearly consistent everywhere, so this new area was not a different depth than where I fished before. Yet, to my surprise, I dropped down a hook with trout food on it and it was bit within 10 seconds. It was an instant take. The trout clearly are not going to the areas I had been fishing before, even though I caught them there earlier this winter. I prefer to not use their food as bait, so I dropped a minnow down and it got no bites. My guess is there were other fish down there that ignored the minnows. I am not sure why the trout seemed to move to this new area. I will fish there again, but I hope to not need to use trout food as bait.

Inside the stomach of the fish, there was no trout food, meaning I don't think they were going to the area I had been feeding in daily. There were some small bugs in the stomach. I will link a picture; I wonder if anyone can tell me what those are. The fish was also very dark which is typical of the males in the pond, I've noticed.

I'd really like to watch with a camera in the new spot I fished, but it's been not working, so when I fix it I'll drop it back down.[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530361 02/08/21 04:50 PM
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Good for using trout pellets as bait. The trout obviously recognized the pellet as food. As long as you remove all pellet caught trout you catch, you should not have problems with producing hook smart fish. Depending on the size of the stomach content bug that is partially digested, from the shape of the antenna, it looks like the underside of an aquatic isopod (aquatic sow bug - Asellus). If it is large maybe the underside of a crayfish? How wide were the flooring boards to estimate the size of the 'bug'.?

Here are the links to the articles about browns being the more difficult trout to catch in ponds. I especially like the bulletin from Washington State Extension; lots of good pond trout info in it. Thanks to Cecil Baird (CB1), he is my go-to pond trout raising expert.
In the New York publication see page 8 for trout info.
https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstr...agement+In+New+York+Ponds.pdf?sequence=2

https://research.libraries.wsu.edu/...0756_1981.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

Last edited by Bill Cody; 02/08/21 05:14 PM.

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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Bill Cody #530368 02/08/21 08:50 PM
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Bill, I'm curious if your perch were pellet trained when you stocked them or not? I recently added 300 5-9 inchers and would love to feed them if there's a way to get them to eat it,


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Re: Feeding Trout Under Ice / Trout Eating Off Bottom
Fyfer123 #530379 02/09/21 10:52 AM
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Thanks again for you knowledgable reply, Bill, and thank you to Cecil as well for providing that information.

I believe that the "bug" is an aquatic isopod you mentioned. It was very small. Those are actually small pieces of a cutting board. I figure its a good thing the trout have something to eat during the winter that is natural. They clearly have a big advantage over the bass when the water is cold.

I really appreciate those links. They seem like great resources.

Yesterday, I was able to catch another trout, this time on orange PowerBait. I think I am figuring them out more. They like to stay in the areas with moderate weed density or no weed density at all. They do not seem to ever go to the extremely dense weed areas. I also fished with salted minnows and a soft plastic on a jig and did not get any bites. I will try worms if I get a chance today, because I think they might bite them.

I am also continuing to use the camera to see where they are feeding.

Thanks again.


Adam

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