Using a throat pump to acquire a sample of what a fish has recently been feeding on is not an irresponsible or inhumane act. A proper throat pump has a beveled end that tapers down slightly to avoid any harm done on fish, and the fish itself does not have to leave the water for more than three seconds to grab a throat sample. A throat pump is not meant to be jammed into the stomach of the fish, only pull a sample of what has recently been ingested.
To throat pump a fish, cradle it upside down in your net with the pump in your opposite hand. Fill the bulb with water, then allow most of it to be squeezed out while the tube remains wet. Depress the bulb, insert it directly into the fish’s throat and quickly release the bulb. Immediately set the fish back in the water and set your throat pump aside. Release the fish before examining the contents.
Once the fish has made its way safely back to the depths, squeeze the contents from the pump into a small glass vial with some fresh water. This will be a great indication of exactly what fish are feeding on in recent minutes, pay close attention to the bugs that are still alive and moving. From here, choose your fly accordingly to match what is on the menu.
The process does not end here, it is valuable to take a good photo of what is in the vial for further fly tying or purchasing reference. Hold the vial up with one hand and take a photo with the other, or prop the vial on a flat surface. My favourite lens for insect photos is Canon’s 100mm 2.8 L Series Macro, it allows me to pick out even the smallest details when I am viewing these photos later on a computer or TV screen.
You do not have to have an expensive camera setup to get good bug photos, most of today’s smartphones have great macro capabilities and even external macro attachments that produce great results. When you are examining the bugs, tilt them on a few different angles and see what different shades and colours present themselves. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to determine exactly what you are looking at.
That’s it, that is all! Our spring stillwater season is still going strong but will be wrapped up by the end of June, beginning again at the start of September. There are still a few days open through June, if you want to get out a learn a few things fill out the form below and we will make it happen!