What Do Fish Eat In The Wild? (With Specific Species)

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The answer to that question isn’t as simple as you think because it’s all going to depend on what type of fish you’re talking about. In this post, I’m going to be talking about what some of the most popular freshwater fish eat in the wild.

In the wild, fish will mainly feed on small insects, crustaceans, leeches, worms, zooplankton, algae, and smaller fish. The diet of a fish will consist of 45-50% protein, but they will still need fats for warmth and carbohydrates for energy.

Some fish eat a lot more protein whiles others are fine with stuff like algae. It’ll also depend on what sort of environment they live in. This post is mainly geared towards fish you’d fish for such as salmon and trout. Let’s jump into some of the more popular fish out there and what exactly they eat.

What Do Kokanee Eat?

Kokanee is a type of salmon and is one of my favorite fish to eat. They’re super common in a lot of the lakes in my area and the main thing Kokanee eat is Zooplankton. They’ll also feed on small insects, plants, and freshwater shrimp.

They have what’s called gill rakers that will catch all the Zooplankton as they swim through the water. As the temperature heats up the Zooplankton will go to lower depths and the Kokanee will follow (there’s a fishing tip for ya). You’ll also see them jumping out of the water to catch flies and other insects (they don’t always jump for food though).

What Do Rainbow Trout Eat?

Trout is a little bit different than Kokanee in that they’re carnivores and only eat a protein-rich diet. They won’t eat any sort of vegetation or algae (which I actually didn’t know until recently). Rainbow trout will mainly eat insects, leeches, worms, different types of shellfish, and sometimes even eat small rodents like mice.

They’ll also eat smaller fish such as Kokanee and I’ve found that using fish eggs is one of the best ways to catch a rainbow trout. Most people use flies to catch trout so I guess that shows what another one of their favorite meals is.

What Do Bass Eat?

Bass is more similar to trout than kokanee in that they mainly eat protein. I don’t believe they eat much vegetation but some of the food a bass will eat includes insects, small fish, crayfish, frogs, worms/leeches, mice, and even small turtles.

From what I’ve seen, bass like to eat smaller fish the best because that’s what I catch most of them with. Frogs (and a few others) work well in small ponds but in the open waters, they’ll mainly go after the smaller fish.

What Do Walleye Eat?

The main thing a walleye will eat is other fish. That’s their go-to and seems to be their favorite. They’ll also eat crayfish and other creatures like it as well as leeches and worms. Pretty much anything that’s rich in protein.

Anytime you’re fishing for walleye, the only things you’ll really use are minnows (live or artificial) or leeches/nightcrawlers (also knows as earthworms). They mainly eat minnows (other fish) in the Spring and leeches and such in the Summer.

What Do Pike Eat?

Pike is pretty much at the top of the food chain and will eat anything they can find. They are a predator fish that mainly feed on other fish such as perch, bass, and even smaller pike. They’ll also eat frogs, mice, and snakes.

Pretty much if you have anything struggling in the water it’ll get eaten by a pike. They aren’t too picky and like to wait in the shallows for something to come along and that’s when they’ll make their move.

What Do Carp Eat?

Carp will eat pretty much anything they can get. Carp prefer to eat insects, worms, crustaceans, and other things like that but they’ll also feed on algae and other vegetation. They are a bottom feeder so they’ll just move around the bottom until they find something.

The thing that’s worked best for me (and others) is using corn or worms. I’ve had the best results with that but it looks like they’ll eat pretty much anything they can find.

What Do Fish Eat In The Winter?

In the winter months, fish don’t need to eat as much because they rest at the bottom for long periods of time and don’t use that much energy. Obviously, they still need to eat something but the things they can find are somewhat limited.

Salmon and trout seem to be more active in the winter and can be sometimes seen near the surface. Bass and some other fish tend to stay deep where the water is a bit warmer and don’t move around much.

There’s going to be no flies and no frogs but there’s still going to be plenty for them. In the wintertime, fish will feed on whatever is living in the water such as smaller fish, crayfish/shrimp, Zooplankton, leeches, and a number of other things. They’ll also take whatever you send down to them on a hook.

Happy fishing. There are plenty of fish in the sea.

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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