Freshwater shrimp or scuds are crustaceans that live in freshwater. Very common in lakes and ponds throughout North America; lakes and ponds that are neutral to alkaline in productivity and water chemistry.
They’re a very important trout food source in the lakes and interior regions of British Columbia. It’s that rich heavy diet of freshwater shrimp that imparts that nice dark orange reddish flesh color to the trout’s flesh; it’s the carotene in those shrimp.
So, scuds or freshwater shrimp, as you can see in this aquarium, live in amongst the vegetation that lines the bottom of the shoal and towards the edge of the drop-off of the lake. Oftentimes anglers will say well I’ve drove by a lake and I saw all kinds of shrimp free swimming everywhere in the water column.
That’s probably an indication that there’s either no fish in that lake or very very few, because if there are free swimming shrimp they’ll quickly get eaten by any available fish species that are in that lake.
So for our purposes for fishing in lakes, and particularly when fishing for shrimp, we’re gonna concentrate our efforts on the shoal and the edge of the drop-off where these guys live. Shrimp mate numerous times during the year.
The females will develop a cluster of eggs on the underside of her thorax region and the eggs will hatch. Then they’ll become free swimming. Shrimp can live for several years in the lake. They molt four or five times a year and they feed primarily on detritus: decomposing flat vegetation.
But if there was odd some dead animal matter like a dead fish they’ll graze on the flesh of that carcass as well. They can be eaten by fish or trout and char at all times of the year, as I mentioned earlier, but they are more focused early in the spring and later in the fall.
That’s because at those two times of the year there are minimal other insect hatches occurring so the fish resort to bread and fibre food sources like freshwater shrimp. So always a good pattern to have in your box because they’re so ready available and trout can eat them year-round.
Scuds are one of the most staple trout food sources you’ll find in productive still waters. It’s important to learn how to fish them properly. Remember that scuds live in the vegetation hugging the bottom of the shoal areas.
They’re in shallow water to the edges of the drop-off. So most your stud fishing is done in 20 feet of water or less. Lots that will be done in six, seven feet of water just over the mats of weeds that are on the shoulders of the lake.
So scuds are hugging and hiding amongst up vegetation so we got to get our presentations down to the bottom. Common lines for fishing shrimp are full sinking lines from intermediate to type three, even a type four sinking line.
Remember the numbers – three, four, five, six, seven – tell you the sink rate. Three inches per second, four inch per second, two inches per second. This would be a typical set up. This is a type three full sinking fly line and I’ve got a I’ve got a nine-foot leader on and attached to my fly a tapered leader that ends in a six pound test and I’ve got my shrimp tied on with a non-slip loop knot.
So it’s going to move through the water. I’m just going to strip some line out and then I’m casting right towards the toolies over there because we’re on shallow water. I’m waiting now… this line sinks at three inches per second, so you slowly sinking now through the water column.
I’m gonna wait maybe 20 seconds to let it sink and then I’m gonna start just a strip retrieve. Two to four inch retrieve like that. Fairly steady. Just trying to keep it off the weeds but as closest to the weeds – the bottom of the weeds – as possible.
All the way in. And we’re just waiting for the bite. Notice I keep my rod tip right on the water. I don’t hold it up high in the water; I want to keep it low so it’s the strip straightest line connection I can have with my fly line.
So that when I lift it I’ve got a long up stroke to set the hook. So again, throw it back out there. We can also do a hand twist retrieve like this. Pretty steady and then give it a couple quick pulls and then like that.
Another hand twist retrieve. Let it go and twist. Couple more pulls and then retrieve. Shrimp are great to fish all year long but they really excel early spring because there’s not a lot of other insects hatching yet and then they really do well late in the fall.
Again, because there’s no insects hatching so fish late in the fall go back on to food sources that are available. Shrimp, leeches, damselflies, immature damselfly nymphs, water boatman, backswimmers.
Ok, so shrimp, you want to have them in your box because they are such a stable food source and fish do feed on them.