“Trout Week” doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Shark Week,” unless, that is, you’re a vole.
Stories abound of trout at The Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve gulping down unlucky rodents. All anglers want to believe this, but the mouse-eating fish tales never quite had the ring of truth.
But scientists have found that Silver Creek’s trout do indeed feed on rodents. One electro-fishing survey—looking at fish diets—found the above trout with three freshly-killed voles in its stomach.
In certain years, voles explode in population — providing a feast for hawks, owls, coyotes, rattlesnakes and weasels. And trout. On one evening during a vole irruption, I walked through the preserve at night, often hearing a light splash of a vole falling into the stream followed by a much larger one—Jaws on a spring creek scale.
Brown trout are voracious predators, and a “vole hatch” is too much protein to pass up.
Just try not think of this photo the next time you sit down to a trout dinner.—Matt Miller
(Photo credit: Ralph Stewart)