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QIs winter nymphing all about bloodworm and hoglice? I see plenty of bloodworm in marrowspoons but I’ve never seen any hoglice? Steve Andrews PAUL PROCTER REPLIES: The winter diet of stillwater trout consists of many food forms that do include bloodworm and hoglice as you mention. However, we also need to consider the likes of freshwater shrimps, corixa, snails, cased caddis and emerging buzzers (chironomids). From this list we must remember certain invertebrates lead an aquatic lifestyle and don’t emerge into a winged adult form. These include hoglice, freshwater shrimps, snails and corixa. Because of this, trout are more likely to depend on them at certain times of winter, especially where weedbeds die back to expose these creatures. Cased caddis are the larval stage of sedges and to protect themselves they build shelters of fine grit, sand and twigs. As their lifecycle is yearly these larvae develop through winter months, which again makes them available to trout. On many of the Cumbrian waters I’ve visited in early spring, trout have exhibited a particular liking for cased caddis, which no doubt they discovered in the depths of winter. Bloodworms are the larval stage of chironomids (buzzers) that, like sedges, develop through winter months. As most of our stillwaters contain vast areas of silt we can expect to see good numbers of chironomids and their bloodworm stage. However, bloodworms tend to build burrows in fine silt to hide themselves from natural predators, which in turn makes them difficult for trout to find. That said, winter storms cause strong currents that set up powerful undertows to shift mud/silt around and expose bloodworms. Furthermore, on numerous occasions I’ve encountered trout with bloodworms in their stomachs that have been accompanied by lumps of muddy debris, making it obvious that these particular fish had been actively grubbing in the mud to filter out bloodworms. It might be your local fishery has a thriving buzzer population and therefore their bloodworm are what winter trout rely on. Or, it could be the times you have visited, due to severe winter weather, bloodworms have become exposed and pushed up the menu list. While bloodworm imitations should rightly head your winter campaign, it would be foolish to dismiss other food forms and their imitations. With that in mind, try fishing something like a grubby Hare’s Ear in your line-up as this could pass as a shrimp, hoglouse, or even a small cased caddis.
Bloodworms are a good food source in winter, but don't dismiss other imitations.