Best Natural Bait for Imitating Scuds/Freshwater Shrimp

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AR-Tenner
AR-Tenner's picture
Best Natural Bait for Imitating Scuds/Freshwater Shrimp

Hi Folks,

My favorite kind of fishing is for trout, and after having studied the stomach contents of quite a few trout, particularly those caught in deep lakes, I have seen that a large portion of what trout eat are freshwater shrimp of the Gammarus genus, generally called scuds.  I have studied gammarids quite a bit, and while some of them can get as big as a single salmon egg, they are not a very practical organism to use for live or dead bait.

I have used scud and egg imitation dry flies to great effect (the orange-colored egg imitations seemed to be indistinguishable to the fish from the scud imitations) in some deep lakes with wild Rainbows in western Alberta when I was working in Canada a few years ago.  I have also seen scud imitation lures like the Widowmaker Scud Missile, but I was wondering whether there is a kind of live or natural bait that imitates these well.

I was thinking that perhaps an orange salmon egg or small ball of orange power bait might do the trick, or perhaps actual crayfish or shrimp meat.  Another possibility might be to buy the dried gammarus people feed to newts and turtles, soak them, and put a few on the hook.

Thanks for your input, and I am hoping others have thought about the best way to take advantage of the weakness trout have for freshwater shrimp.

Susquehannock
Susquehannock's picture
Scuds, small hooks

If you have big enough scuds and small enough hooks, you can actually use the little "shrimps" themselves as bait. You'll probably need some split shots and/or a bobber unless it's a really dinky stream, but they catch trout.

Sorry if that doesn't work, but it's about all I can think of.

Susquehannock

Goldenfishberg
Goldenfishberg's picture
Some thoughts

Back here in Minnesota, there are a few bait shops that sell scuds to trout and panfisherman in the winter time for the hard water season. Guys just use a small light wire hook and a split shot to fish them. You can also tip a small jigging spoon with one that is another popular method. It takes a lot of calling around to bait shops to find some fresh sucds but they are avialabe from time to time. 

The best non-aquatic bait that resembles fresh water shrimp in my opnion is a larval stage of the drone fly. They call them 'mousies' up here, they may have a different name in other parts of the country some poeple call them rat tail maggots. Bassicially they look like a euro larva (maggot) with a little fuzzy tail. The tails wiggle around a bit when you hook them. They had a 'drought' of these the last few years in MN and I have struggled to find any. THEY WORK GREAT for panfish and trout and are kept alive easily in a jar with saw dust like other larva. They outfish waxworms  5 to 1 in my expeience. If you can find these I'd give them a try. You can most likely order them from the interwebs if the bait retailers look at you like a derranged lunatic when you ask them for 'mosuies'. 

 

Good luck! 

 

Hope this helps a bit. 

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.

Eric Kol
Eric Kol's picture
In the spring creeks and

In the spring creeks and driftless area of MN and WI scuds are bread and butter flies for browns, bows and brookies. They also slay the panfish.... I have even caught plenty of carp on scud flies. 

I think making the shift from a scud fly to a substitute natural might be as easy as using the same scud hooks you tie with to present the natural bait. Just feed it up the hook to get the right shape and fish it like you would a scud fly. 

you mentioned powerbait. I'm not sure I would consider that a natural bait, but if you are game to that then your search will likely be more satisfying! There are several companis that make finesses plastics for ice fishing. Used with the right scud hook these will be great substitutes for live scuds and come in UV and glow colors too. 

Carpy Diem!

andy
andy's picture
Watercress

Find some thick watercress, and you will find scuds.  Just grab a clump of cress, and have a butterfly net around the roots as you pull it.  Dunk the roots in a bucket of water and shake.  After the scuds are off save the cress for a salad.  I used to feed a lot of my native tanks with live scuds this way, and freshh watercress added to a mix of greens is delicious..

 

But honestly, a scud imitation properly fished with a flyrod will excel in streams featuring scuds as a forage option.  You don't need scent.  Scud patterns are easy to tie and work quite well drifted in deep runs.  I catch a lot of trout and suckers on scud flies in the Winter and early Spring here in MN/WI.  

 

 

 

Susquehannock
Susquehannock's picture
Scuds in watercress

If you really want to really get a ton of scuds from watercress, take the plants that are mostly submerged and growing in slow, shallow, muddy backwaters in the stream. I like to eat watercress pulled from little creeks by the fist full, so I have some first hand experience with where the plants hold the most invertebrates...

Susquehannock

philaroman
philaroman's picture
try casters

if you can get maggots (spikes - in the bait world), you can allow them to mature to the next stage of the fly life-cycle -- the chrysalis (casters - in the bait world)

https://www.anglingtimes.co.uk/advice/bait/articles/coarse-fishing-with-casters-as-bait

I'm sure it works the same for "mousies", or any other maggot-like fly larvae...

it ain't crustacean, or even aquatic, but it's dark, crunchy, LIVE meat that you can stock up in your fridge

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

philaroman
philaroman's picture
also...

consider a micro hair-rig for casters, actual live scuds, or any delicate natural bait

it's a major pain in the ass, BUT...  since you're not baiting the hook directly, you're not restricted to tiny light-wire hooks AND you can thread on a whole bunch of the tiny SOB's w/ minimal damage (need thin, open-eye needle)

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

Goldenfishberg
Goldenfishberg's picture
Damn!

That's a real good idea about using the casters philaroman! I'm gonna have to try that cuz I leave the spikes in my pocket all the time and find them a few days later as casters. So when you hair rig the casters do they stay intact pretty well? I have smushed them with my fingers before and they just kinda turn to mush but I wasn't very getnle... 

Ya just Can't catch um from the couch.

philaroman
philaroman's picture
well, if too old/dead/rotten

well, if too old/dead/rotten = useless...  if they're still alive inside the shell, shouldn't stink too bad when you crush 'em...  gotta' keep 'em cool, esp. after they "go still"

light-wire micro-barb up to #14 should work pretty well to hook 1-2 casters directly (smaller, for scuds)

a mini hair-rig may be worth the PITA, if there's "hook wire gauge mismatch" -- e.g., a sturdy #10 is optimal for the fish you chase, but your bait's too delicate for anything bigger than #16 dry-fly...  just need a thin-enough baiting needle

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

kernel j
Andy wisely recommends....

Andy wisely recommends....

But honestly, a scud imitation properly fished with a flyrod will excel in streams featuring scuds as a forage option. 

Yes and it’s far more practical.  

Folks like to think of tiny finesse baits relative to the forage a target species is eating.  Problem is, one has to get the tiny (often fragile) bait through and past every little friggin’ micro anything that also forages on said bait.  IME, it’s simply not worth it for anything larger than micro fishing.  

 

If the species of your pursuit is bigger than your finger, fake ‘em with offerings from the flytying vise. 

 

I’ve probably fished most of the teeny invertebrates found on the bottoms of my creeks with the exception of Water Pennies.  The toughest tissued of them is the net spinner Caddis (typically the Hydropsyches), but even they are no match for the shiners and chubs en route to a Redhorse.  Even when sight fishing close fish, it’s like dragging raw flesh through starving Piranhas.  They stay on it until it's gone with the real thing, with an imitation it's a nip or two and then disregarded.

 

Fair warning, these ideas fish differently on the water than they think in the head.  Try it a few times and you will gain an immense appreciation for just how tough the humble nightcrawler and garden worm tissue actually is.  That boring old bait works remarkably well in the realm of durability, something very few anglers ever consider.  You’ll understand after a few scuds.

 

However, as implied, the micro invertebrates and crustaceans are without peer against any other oh-so-revered and recommended bait for micro-fishing.  No contest in that arena, it’s as effective as it can get.  Free, too.