“Large Mayfly” by Doundounba is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

What Trout Eat

Trout can only live in healthy waterways where there is plenty of trout food. Just like people, different trout like different foods. Trout eat almost any smaller animal, including insects and tiny fish. To get their food, trout have to compete with other types of fish that eat the same things they do. Sometimes, they even have to compete with other trout.

Terrestrial (Land) Animals

Some trout will eat (or at least try) anything in the water. This includes land animals that accidentally hop or fall into the stream or lake. Grasshoppers can make a big, tasty treat. A mouse can make a satisfying meal for any trout that can fit one in its mouth.

Aquatic (Water) Animals (including small fish)

Like other wild animals, trout feed on other aquatic animals including water-dwelling insects, minnows and crayfish. Some fish are cannibalistic, and will eat smaller members of their own species! Trout get sick in polluted water, as do the aquatic animals they eat for food. It’s important to keep rivers, lakes and streams clean so that the insects, crayfish and smaller fish can live in healthy, cool water. When the water gets polluted, insects and crayfish die, and so do the trout.


You may have guessed by now that trout love to gobble up all kinds of flies. To catch fish, we present lures that look like the things wild trout eat. For example, huge trout on the Missouri River drive anglers crazy because they sometimes won’t eat anything but midges. Other trout love the delicately winged mayfly. Look under rocks and sticks to try to figure out what kind of insects are living near a body of water and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what kind of fly to try.

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

For most trout, even very large ones, most of their diet is made up of macroinvertebrates, or animals without backbones. The presence of aquatic invertebrates such as insects, crustaceans, mollusks, snails and worms mean that there is an abundance of food and that the water is clean and healthy. If a water habitat is bad for trout food, it will be impossible for trout to live there themselves. Trout and their favorite food items cannot survive in a habitat damaged by pollution.