What Fish Eat

Aquatic insects make up the majority of a fish's diet. The four key insect orders (listed first and not including Streamers or Terrestrials) that emerge from streams and lakes are:


Small but Abundant

Often overlooked by the angler, the family of non-biting midges is the most diverse and abundant single family of aquatic insects. With over 1000 species in North America, midges out number some of the aquatic orders. Non-biting midges often account for as much as 50% of the species present in a community of freshwater invertebrates. It's possible for the abundance of midges to reach 50,000 larve per square meter in the deep water of a lake.

One of my favorite wilderness animals is the chironomid midge... a combination of utility and beauty few organisms rival. Chironomid larvae live in tubes in lake-bottom ooze: they spin webs in the tubes and pump water through by undulating their bodies. Millions of larvae reduce the stagnation of deep, cold water, oxygenate the mud, and circulate nutrients for use by other organisms. After months of this worthy toil, the larvae pupate and go to heaven, so to speak, emerging from floating pupal cases as tiny, diaphanous flies that swarm above lakes every evening in the millions--throngs that catch the light, billow in the breeze, and otherwise behave as prettily as falling snow.
The Klamath Knot
by David Rains Wallace  

Midge Larva

Pattern Name Color Hook Size Thumbnail Image
Brassie Copper Body # 20
WD40 Olive Green Body # 20

Midge Pupa

Pattern Name Color Hook Size Thumbnail Image
Chan's Chironomid Pupa Black Body / Silver Ribbing # 20
photo coming soon
Serendipity Red Body # 20
photo coming soon

Midge Adult

Pattern Name Color Hook Size Thumbnail Image
Parachute Adams Gray Body # 16
Parachute Adams
Griffiths Gnat Dark Green Body # 20
photo coming soon
Renegade Dark Green Body # 16

Photo of October Caddisfly by P. Michael Carl © The Ecological Angler