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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.

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