Digital Edition

WELCOME TO ‘WHAT TROUT EAT’  –   produced by experienced anglers, scientists, and photographers, who belong to the Northern Lights Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada.

It’s about the minnows and bugs that the trout which are stocked in lakes and ponds throughout Alberta rely on for food. There are also tips on how to imitate these food items with a rod and lure. ‘What Trout Eat’ will hopefully make your fishing time, even more fun, interesting, and successful.

In Alberta, the provincial government and the Alberta Conservation Association stock fish in about 240 lakes:

Brook Stickleback

These fish start life at the fish hatcheries where, after they hatch from the eggs, they’re fed little brown pellets of protein and fat on a regular schedule (they crumble the pellets for the really young ones!). But after a few months of being carefully looked after, they’re taken for a ride in a hatchery truck and a quick slide down a plastic tube to new homes where they have to learn how to feed and look after themselves.

At first, they pick at bits of twigs and plants, but they soon learn that there’s a whole new menu for them to sample. Unlike food pellets, many of the items on this menu move in a variety of ways and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They’re quite different from the food that’s available to their cousins in flowing waters, and it doesn’t come drifting towards them – they have to go search for it!

There are eight sections on the menu:

  • Backswimmers and Water Boatmen
  • Caddisflies
  • Chironomids
  • Damselflies and Dragonflies
  • Leeches
  • Mayflies
  • Minnows and Sticklebacks
  • Scuds and Daphnia

For each of them you’ll find photos and information about their life cycle, appearance, and behaviour.  Also, there are tips for spin and fly fishers on when, where and how to imitate these trout food items with fishing flies and lures. For those interested in learning even more, there are links to additional information and suggestions for other websites to visit.

Recreational fishing is a popular pastime for people of all ages – it provides many social, emotional, and physical health benefits. Back in 2015, when the federal government last did a survey, more than 3.2 million people, about 9 of every 100 Canadians, went fishing. On average, we fished 15 days a year and in total caught about 194 million fish, releasing almost 70% of them. Alberta anglers were a bit above those averages, spending 18 days a year on the water and releasing about 90% of fish caught, according to that same survey.

Given the popularity of catch and release angling, we’ve also included a tip at the end of each section on how to handle and release fish so that they stand a better chance of surviving. These tips are from Keep Fish Wet, an organization with which we’re proud to be a conservation partner, and are based on their three basic principles: 1.Minimize Air Exposure, 2.Eliminate Contact with Dry Surfaces , 3. Reduce Handling Time.

You can find out where the provincial fish hatcheries have stocked trout in Alberta, what species, how many, and when by visiting Alberta Government. The same information for lakes stocked by the Alberta Conservation Association is at ACA Stocked Lakes.

Please make sure you know the regulations for the lake before you start fishing by checking the Sportfishing Regulations App or the Alberta Guide. Be careful, have fun, and ‘Tight Lines’!

We plan to update the information and the links on this site as needed. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to improve the information please share them with us at