The Art of Trout Jumping

We’ve compiled a few videos that show the power and vaulting skills of these beautiful animals.  

How high can trout jump?

In a study of Brook Trout the researchers looked at jumping height and were amazed. The small, 10–15-cm Brook Trout could jump a 63.5-cm-high waterfall, that means up to 4.7 times their body length. The most important factor for the jump height was the depth of the plunge pool at the bottom. 

The larger the pool, the more height the trout jumping out of water was able to gather. The larger Brook Trout were jumping up to 73.5-cm waterfalls, or equivalent to 2.9–4.0 times the length of their body, but only if the plunge pools were at least 40 cm. The researchers also looked at what shallow plunge pools did to the height of the jumps, and it turns out that pools of 10 cm depth make it impossible for the fish of all sizes to jump up a waterfall of 43.5 cm or more.

You can also see our post here on World Record Brook Trout if you want to know the largest Brook Trout ever caught


Why are trout jumping?

This is a question that has puzzled ichthyology for a long time, and the answers are various and depend on the types of trout

One major reason for Trout jumping is to get rid of Argulus, a type of fish louse. By violently jumping out of the water, the impact is often sufficient to dislodge the pesky parasite and free the trout. 

Trout may also be jumping to readjust their swimbladders or because they are attacking something under the surface of the water and don’t slow down, popping up mid-attack. Sometimes trout can jump to feed, but it is only occasionally and in certain conditions, such as Mayfly season. Trout usually like to conserve energy and feed from the surface of the water rather than consume precious calories leaping for something that’s not a sure thing.  And finally, some say that trout can also be jumping because they are happy. Until we get a real trout psychologist on the case, this one may be nothing more than fanciful speculation.

And finally… a trout jump gone bad

At Decorah Fish Hatchery in Iowa, in 2013, a rainbow trout made a leaping mistake when it jumped in – 30-degree weather and got stuck to the side of its tank. The tank was lined with aluminium for easy cleaning, and because of its conductivity was extremely sticky to the unlucky fish. The fishcicle was discovered by biologist Brian Malaise and represents a serious case of vaulting skill meets bad luck.

frozen jumping trout
Via Nerdist

What is your story of trout jumping? I’ve had plenty of trout jumping out of my hands, I know that. Leave your story in the comments below. If you’re looking for fly line reviews or trying to understand what is drag and how best to overcome it then check out our homepage and partners below:

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Ben Kepka

Hey, I'm Ben, a fly fisherman for over 20 years and also an aspiring blogger. I've been into fly fishing since my graduation from spin fishing when I was 12 years old. I started to help introduce as many people into this amazing sport. Tight lines everyone! You can read more on our about page here.

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