Freshwater Shrimp-Rob Kolakowski photo

Freshwater shrimp mate several times a year.  Their abundance makes them a rich food source for a variety of fish. 


    We’re going to get down and dirty when we take a look at one of my favorite fish foods.  Down in the vegetation, rocks, and muck we’ll go in search of the freshwater shrimp.  Often called a scud by fly fishers.  These crustaceans can be found in lakes and streams around the world.  There are good numbers in our area.

    When your on the water bring along a small minnow net or maybe a piece of window screen to help catch them for closer inspection.   I’ve seen them swimming about in very shallow water in lakes, but I’ve probably spent most of my time looking for them on the trout streams in the area.  Quickly turn over a rock near the bank and you can often find them clinging to the bottom of it.  You can usually grab them before they scurry off.  If you have the net just downstream of the rock they can be caught when they beat it out of there.  They seem to prefer the slower water near the banks around riffles and runs.  That’s where I’d start looking.  Put them in something that holds water and watch them swim.  They scoot along pretty good compared to most of the nymphs and larva you’ll also find.  If your fishing a fly that represents a shrimp you’ll often do well to give it a twitch.  Fly rod nymphing techniques will get your scud pattern down to where the fish spend most of their time and give you the best chance of hooking up.  

    The shrimp is certainly not at the top of the food chain.  It has it’s own little niche in the ecosystem where is lives and survives.  It survives the larger presence and appetite of the local fish.  Panfish and trout seem to really like these babies.  At least they seem to really like a fly that resembles one.  The fish can hang out and pick off the unlucky ones that are swept away by the current or they can hunt them down.  I’ve watched fish swim back and forth through weed beds in lakes and fan the river bottom to flush out food.  There’s a good chance they will flush a shrimp among other things.  

    When I think of shrimp I think of salt water; at least I use too.  When I first learned that we have them in inland streams and lakes I was pretty amazed.  Probably because I often dream of exploring salt water and the presence of freshwater shrimp tied my thoughts and everyday fishing to the salt.  If you’re a hopeless fisherman like myself and see everything as fish food, then you’ll be glad you checked out the freshwater shrimp.  


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