Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Do Trout Eat, & Educating Kids

   When my little boys school teacher found out that I was an avid fisherman as well as a hunter she got very excited.  I was soon recruited for the special task of supplying food for a class full of four and five year old kids.  WHAT, you ask?  Feeding school kids deer meat and fresh fish.  Has the world gone completely nuts? Well.... yes it has but that's beside the point.  The truth is that this teacher takes her job very seriously and when she teaches kids about stuff, she wants it to be as authentic as possible and I respect her for it.
  Now before you get all up in arms about killing fish, let me clear the air.  95% of the time I am a catch and release angler and always try to keep the natives populations of trout in the rivers.  That being said, occasionally I do enjoy a fresh caught trout.  There just isn't much better than fresh trout over an open flame covered in butter, onions, and lemon juice and if you haven't had fresh fish then you are missing out.
   However, when that desire to have fresh caught trout hits I do not raid the native streams.  I instead head right for the put and take stream that is stocked in season nearly once a week.  These fish rarely will survive the winter and are put there just for that purpose.  I could get into the ethics behind it but that for another post.  Today I am talking about supplying fish for pre-K children.

   So anyway, as I was saying, my kids teacher wanted deer meat and fresh trout for an example of what the Native Americans ate.  The feast was going to be the culmination of a long course on Native American Indians and Eskimos and she wanted me to supply the food.  The deer meat was not a problem since I had a freezer full of it and the trout... well what better excuse is there to go fishing.
    After an enjoyable few hours on the 'put and take' stream full of stocked trout I had three nice fish to serve up.  Two of them were caught on size #16 dry midges while a third was hooked on an ugly looking BWO.  I hooked a few more but let them go on their way.  I had enough for my purpose and there is no need to get greedy.  Immediately I headed back home and began to clean them.
    I am never one to miss an opportunity to educate the kids so I asked them to pull up a chair and watch me clean then.  Eagerly they watch as I gutted and cleaned them, then I took it one step further and emptied all three trouts stomach contents for the kids to analyze.  As we sifted through the first (and smallest trouts stomach contents) we began to see things the kids recognized like a millipede, an ant, and of course a ladybug.
    The rest was a mixture of wings, insect casings, and legs.   Next was the second and slightly bigger trout.  I had a lot less bugs but they were bigger insects.  the ant to the left was one of only a few bugs we found in that one.  It was about this time that I noticed my little boy was missing in action.  I left my seven year old girl to look for more bugs in the mess and soon found my boy on the couch.  His stomach wasn't feeling 'to well'.  I guess decomposed bugs were just to much for him.  I turned on Phineous and Ferb (Its a Disney cartoon) for him and returned to help my little girl sift through the last and biggest trouts meal for the day.
    The last trout had nearly nothing in his belly but what he did have was amazing.  Besides a few large wings from some sort of beetle, he had a wasp.  As you can see from the pic to the right, trout are apparently not to effected by stings.  This amazed my daughter.  She couldn't believe that a fish would eat a wasp.  Bugs, Yes.. but a wasp?  It was too much.
    I finished cleaning the fish and cleaned up the bug guts before my wife saw them on her kitchen counter.    As for the kids special Indian feast, I am told that it was a mega hit.  There is only about twelve kids in the class and they finished off three whole trout and a pound of deer meat.  My boy was star and the only complaint I heard of was from one other little boy that was real angry that his daddy didn't fish or hunt.
    The moral of the story, take your kids out into the great outdoors and teach them about the world in which we live.  They will thank you for it for the rest of your life.


Jay said...

Great post. Hands on learning is the best way to teach, and what a great experience for the kids.
As for your "put and take" fishery... if the fish are likely to die anyway, it would be somehwat unethical to play catch and release with them. I think the context of catch and release practices always need to be considered before judgement is passed on other anglers.
You're an angler who obviously gets it- leave the natives where you find them, and enjoy the bounty of put and take fisheries when you want to enjoy some fresh fish. You might as well... your fishing license fees probably paid for it.

Anonymous said...

What a great post. I know you love your kids and God's great wonders. It does my heart good to see what a great Dad you have become.

Feather Chucker said...

Awesome post, I used to wonder if fish ate wasps and bees too. Then I started fishing wasp colored panther martins in the sierras. They by far out performed any other color combo.

Fly Waters Edge - Kevin said...

Excellent post!! If only more kids got this kind of exposure the world would be quite different I think!

Peter Patenaude said...

Nature- the first teaching tool.
Really great story.

Unknown said...

Jay - My license probably did pay for them but they it also payed for protecting the native fish. I just wish that they worked on educating the other anglers that take trout from streams indiscriminately.

mom -thanks

Kevin F.- I'm tying up some wasps right now!

Kevin of F.W.E.- that it would. I'm just glad I can give my kids a quality education.

Peter - endless opportunities to learn outdoors

cofisher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cofisher said...

Thanks Joel, this was a very cool post. Maybe next time Jay can provide some snake snacks!