3-Season Feeding for Your Rainbows and Browns
It’s trout pond season in Alberta! If you’re curious about feeding your Rainbow Trout or Brown Trout, here are some handy guidelines about what you can generally expect during the season.
Early spring: Fish are coming out of dormancy. Feed a little every other day and watch for rising. Feed until the rising stops. Feed later into the evening if you have brown trout. If you just stocked your pond, feed consistently. Enough feed that is eaten within 15 to 20 minutes. If you have excess feed, reduce the amount fed the next day.
Late spring: As the water warms up and before the insect population really booms is prime feeding time for weight gain and health. Build a bonfire beside your pond, watch them feed and come into their full energy. Cast a line or two and see what happens.
Later spring: As the insect population increases you may find your fish don't feed as aggressively if they are taking in more energy from natural sources. Monitor the amount being fed and reduce if feed is not being consumed. Prime fishing time. Taste is optimal, weight is gaining and you could have a lot of play on the end of your line.
Early summer: Still prime time for catching for your table - algae levels are still low and not changing taste. Decrease feed by about 25% to improve the chance of your fly seeing action.
Mid summer: Warmer water decreases Rainbow Trout activity levels. If you have Brown Trout - they respond well to warm water and you can continue to feed at normal levels. Keep in mind if you are fishing for your table, if you have a lot of algae (surface or suspended) it will negatively impact taste.
Late summer: A good time to add a little weight for winter. Increase feed quantities back to the same levels as late spring, plus about 25% extra to account for growth over the summer. If you don’t aerate your pond, do not add any extra feed to avoid a nutrient imbalance in your water body.
Early fall: Start a gradual taper of feed amounts. As water temperature cools, trout will naturally cut back on consumption rate. Keep a close eye on rising. If you are casting feed and getting no response, then cut back feed quantities. If you don’t aerate your pond tape feed rates at about 15% per week after Labour Day. Keep fishing.
Late fall: Feed until there is consistent ice cover at the edge of your pond or fish activity drops. Happy Thanksgiving, enjoy your turkey. Your chance of catching trout for dinner as the water cools drops every day.
*This list is designed for Alberta and Canadian Prairie ponds. Warmer climates should consult with local hatcheries for fish feeding rates and fish behaviours.