What Do Speckled Trout Eat?

Read this article before you go fishing for speckled trout. It'll teach you what you need to know about their diets and feeding habits.

What do Speckled Trout eat in their day-to-day lives? Speckled Trout have a varied diet consisting of everything from insects like nymphs, beetles and grasshoppers, to fish eggs, leeches, molluscs, crustaceans and even larger prey like mice and other fish.

While Speckled Trout are surprisingly selective eaters during different seasons and at certain periods of the day, they also tend to be very opportunistic and will gorge themselves when the getting is good. 

Don’t miss our Complete Guide to Fly Fishing for Trout.

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What Do Speckled Trout Eat?

What do speckled trout eat? Speckled trout consume a variety of different species throughout their everyday lives.

what do speckled trout eat

Scuds, shrimp, mussels, leeches, worms, mice, frogs, and fish are the main choices for a hungry speckled trout.

Speckled Trout Eat Crustaceans

The most common crustaceans speckled trout eat are shrimp, crayfish, scuds and sowbugs.

A freshwater shrimp in a white background

Shrimp

Shrimp make up a large portion of a speckled trout’s diet. They are an extremely prevalent option in the estuaries and ocean marshes speckled trout call home. 

Tying on a freshwater shrimp pattern is a great way to induce a strike.   

huge crayfish on a white background

Crayfish

Crayfish are another prevalent food option for speckled trout.

Found all throughout the oceanic marshes, coves and rivers, crayfish provide a substantial meal for a hunting speckled trout. 

A slowly stripped crawfish along the seabed will frequently gain a speckled trout’s attention.

A small scud is a great cutthroat trout foodon a white background

Scuds

Speckled trout will eat scuds throughout their lifetime. Although more common among younger/smaller speckled trout, adults will also eat them as they are an easy meal. 

Swinging or drifting scuds under an indicator can produce great results.

An aquatic sowbug on a white background

Sowbugs

Sowbugs closely resemble scuds in many ways, however, sowbugs live their lives completely on land. 

This leads to less prevalence in the water, but when one is blown or swept into a stream or estuary, speckled trout will strike. 

Drifting a sowbug close to a grassy shoreline can be effective.

Speckled Trout Eat Mammals

As speckled trout age and grow, mammals become a larger portion of their diets. They are known as both aggressive and opportunistic feeders and will rarely pass up the opportunity to eat an unfortunate mouse or unsuspecting turtle.

a mice as fishing bait

Mouse

Mice, while not as common in speckled trout habitat as other trout habitat, are a favorite meal of speckled trout.

Speckled trout who work their way into the freshwater rivers that feed into the ocean will oftentimes come across mice who have fallen in or been swept up by the current and will not hesitate to pounce. 

Turtles

Speckled trout will not hesitate to eat a smaller sea turtle when the chance arises. Estuaries and ocean marshes are home to many different species of turtles and casting a turtle fly can lead to an aggressive strike.

Speckled Trout Eat Amphibians

Speckled trout are also eager to eat any amphibians they can find. Frogs and tadpoles as well as salamanders provide a substantial meal that speckled trout rarely pass up.

A frog on a white background

Frog

Speckled trout are aggressive feeders and the twitchy movements of frogs often trigger that aggression. They also provide a substantial meal for speckled trout. 

Sporadically stripping a frog to mimic the quick movements of a swimming frog can be very effective. 

orange spotted Salamander on a white background

Salamander

Salamanders are another substantial choice for feeding speckled trout. 

Salamanders’ color and size varies on their habitat, but they are a great option for drawing the attention of a cruising speckled trout. 

Speckled Trout Eat Mollusc  

Speckled trout eat a variety of molluscs throughout their lifetimes. Molluscs are invertebrates that have an unsegmented body and hard shell.

Molluscs live throughout the ocean marshes and estuaries that speckled trout call home making them a common food source for speckled trout.

snail on a white background

Snail

The most common mollusk found in speckled trout habitat is the snail. Found attached to rocks, seaweed or the ocean floor speckled trout will eat snails all throughout the day.

Floating or drifting snails with the current is a great option when the bite slows.

mussel on white background

Mussels

Speckled trout also eat mussels consistently. Nearly as widespread as snails, speckled trout will eat mussels all throughout the year.

Speckled Trout Eat Worms

There are countless variations of worm species that are classified as invertebrates, and live in/around trout waters throughout the world. 

Two of the most common options for speckled trout are earthworms and leeches.

A speckled trout in the shallow water
A close up picture of an earthworm as fishing bait

Earthworm

Speckled trout will eat earthworms whenever available. Since earth worms can grow to a few inches, speckled trout will not hesitate to strike. 

Drifting an earthworm up and down through deeper pools can garner the attention of even the laziest of speckled trout.

A close up picture of a leech as fishing bait on a white background

Leech

Leeches provide another easy food source for speckled trout. 

Spending all their time swimming through or attached to rocks and seaweed, speckled trout are able to sip up leeches without expending much energy.

A drifted leech will frequently provide great opportunities.

Speckled Trout Eat Smaller Fish

As speckled trout grow, fish become a larger and larger part of their diets. Throughout the estuaries and marshes where speckled trout reside, bait fish are everywhere and provide a large percentage of their meals.

A close up picture of a minnows as fishing bait on a white background

Same Species Minnows

Speckled trout will not resist eating other speckled trout or minnows if they are given the opportunity. 

In certain instances, large speckled trout will even attack and eat other fully grown speckled trout.

A close up picture of a minnow as fishing bait on a white background

Other Minnows

Found in almost every estuary, marsh or river that houses speckled trout, minnows are a mainstay of their diet. 

The bright reflection and jagged movements of a school of minnows will draw the attention of hunting speckled trout.

Stripping a minnow quickly through the shallows is a great way to land a speckled trout.

A close up picture of a sculpin as fishing bait on a white background

Sculpin

A lesser known, smaller member of the minnow family is the sculpin. 

Living in many of the same waters as speckled trout, the sculpin is another prominent food source for a speckled trout.

Speckled Trout Eat Fish Eggs

During the spawn, which is normally October through November, speckled trout, along with multiple other species of trout will spawn. 

During the chaos, eggs will be swept away with the currents and become easy meals for speckled trout.

Other Speckled Trout Eggs

During the chaos that the fall spawn brings, eggs will be swept up in the currents. Speckled trout eggs will also be carried away and full grown speckled trout will not hesitate to eat those as well.

Speckled Trout Eat Terrestrials

Terrestrials are a common meal option for speckled trout, specifically younger ones. The main options include grasshoppers, beetles, ants, mayflies, caddisflies, moths, midges, stoneflies as well as countless others that we will discuss below.

A close up picture of a grasshopper as fishing bait on a white background

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers can be a common summer snack for cruising speckled trout. During the summer months, grasshoppers hatch in the marshes and grasslands that surround the estuaries where speckled trout live.

As a result, when grasshoppers fall into the water, speckled trout will take advantage. Floating a grasshopper near a marshy or grassy bank is a great way to induce a strike.

A close up picture of a beetle as fishing bait on a white background

Beetles

Like grasshoppers, beetles live in many of the same marshy areas. As beetles fall or are blown into the water speckled trout will not shy away. 

Casting a beetle near a grassy shoreline is a great way to entice a bite.

A close up picture of an ants as fishing bait on white background

Ants

Ants are one of the most prevalent terrestrials as they emerge from hibernation in earlier months than others. 

Speckled trout will take advantage of the unfortunate ants that fall into the water as they become an easy meal once off land.

A close up picture of a mayflies as fishing bait on white background

Mayflies

Mayflies are prevalent in most of the areas that speckled trout reside. Prior to flying away as fully grown adults, mayflies will rest on the surface drying their wings and in that moment, they oftentimes become a speckled trout’s dinner.

A close up picture of a caddisflies as fishing bait on white background

Caddisflies

Caddisflies are another popular food source for speckled trout. There are thousands of species of caddisflies and most hatch at dawn or dusk.

During these chaotic periods of hatching, speckled trout will sip them right off the surface.

A close up picture of a moths as fishing bait on white background

Moths

Moths, though not as common as caddis and mayflies, are another food source for speckled trout. 

Hatching in wet, marshy areas near estuaries and rivers, make them a viable option for feeding speckled trout.

Midges

Midges are one of the most widespread food options for speckled trout. Living in essentially any area where water is present, midges provide easy meals when other options aren’t readily available.

The two most common midges speckled trout feed on are mosquitos and gnats.

A close up cicada on white background

Cicada

Cicadas are one of the larger terrestrials in the species. As such, when a speckled trout has the opportunity, they will partake. Throwing a cicada during a busy hatch is a good option when the bite slow.

A close up of a dragonfly on white background

Dragonfly

Another member of the large terrestrial family is the dragonfly. While dragonflies do not live in the water, they are often found flying directly above it in search of hatching midges.

It is during these times that speckled trout can be seen launching out of the water to grab an unsuspecting dragonfly.

A close up of a stoneflies on white background

Stonefly

Stoneflies are another food source for speckled trout. While not as common as some other terrestrials, in speckled trout habitat they are present. 

When the opportunity arises, a speckled trout not hesitate.

More++

In addition to the above terrestrials, speckled trout will also eat bees, black flies, horse flies, deer flies and countless others.

Speckled Trout Eat Nymphs

Nymphs, also known as not fully developed insects, are another food source for speckled trout. While more common in the diets of young/smaller speckled trout, fully grown adults will also partake.

Caddis Nymph Fly

Caddis Nymph

Caddis nymphs are one of the most popular and common nymphs that frequent speckled trout habitat. 

As a result, they have become a main meal option for growing speckled trout.

Black Midge Fly Pattern

Midge

Gnats and mosquitos are the most common midges in trout habitat. 

While incredibly small, they are found in large quantities which allow speckled trout to constantly sip them up as they cruise the ocean marshes and estuaries.

Oliver Edwards Mohican Mayfly Fly Pattern

Mayfly Nymph

Mayfly nymphs are mainstay of the marshes and estuaries that speckled trout inhabit. 

With such large quantities, speckled trout will engulf them as they rise through the water column.

Drifting mayfly nymphs in river mouths is a great way to encourage a strike.

Stonefly Nymphs for brown trout

Stonefly Nymph

Stonefly nymphs are not nearly as common as other nymphs in speckled trout habitat and as a result are not as sought after. 

When an opportunity presents itself, speckled trout will eat, but they are not a common option.

Dragonfly Nymph Fly Pattern

Dragonfly Nymph

Dragonfly nymphs are one of the larger nymph species. They spend almost their entire lives on the bed of the marshes and rivers where they reside. 

Speckled trout cruising the shallows and the riverbeds will often sip dragonfly nymphs whenever available.

Speckled Trout Eat Moss & Algae

Speckled trout are aggressive and opportunistic feeders. As a result, when pieces of moss or algae catches the eye of a cruising speckled trout they will eat. 

Although, it is not high on the food list of speckled trout, the aggression can take over and lead to a strike.

Moss and algae is also present on topwater in certain areas where speckled trout live and when sipping terrestrials off the surface, algae is often consumed as well.

Speckled Trout Eat Stones & Rocks

While not a main food option for Speckled trout, when sipping nymphs off the bottom of the marsh, stream and ocean beds, rocks and stones are eaten as well.

It is not surprising, when examining the contents of a speckled trout’s stomach, to find stones and rocks.

Speckled Trout Have a Seasonal Diet

Speckled trout have a seasonal diet that is mainly affected by weather and temperature. During the warmer months, multiple different species are active and available.

During the cooler periods certain prey becomes less available and speckled trout focus on other options.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Winter?

In the winter, speckled trout will focus more on the prevalent food options like minnows, sculpins and other fish. Available throughout the year and the preferred choice of feeding speckled trout, minnows and other fish are the main winter target.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Early Spring?

Speckled trout feeding patterns in early spring closely resemble their winter feeding patterns. Focusing mainly on fish and minnows speckled trout will start to mix in the hatching insects that become more prevalent as the temperatures warm.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Summer?

Throughout the summer, speckled trout focus on minnows, fish, sculpin as well as terrestrials, amphibians and nymphs.

While terrestrials and nymphs are most prevalent during the summer, minnows, fish and amphibians are the main choices for feeding speckled trout.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Early Fall?

In early fall, speckled trout are fueling up for their spawning trip. This means they will be eating anything and everything. 

From smaller nymphs and terrestrials to larger turtles, salamanders and fish, speckled trout will take advantage of every easy meal.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Fall?

In the fall, speckled trout will eat a variety of different species. While not as aggressively feeding as in early fall, speckled trout will still eat minnows, crustaceans and nymphs. 

They will also add eggs to their diet post spawn as they become available.

When Do Speckled Trout Feed?

Speckled trout feed all throughout the day as well as the night. When easy meals present themselves, trout take advantage.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat at Dawn?

In the early morning hours, speckled trout are often very active. Using the shadows to their advantage, they will feed on minnows, fish, turtles and the hatching terrestrials.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat Mid-day?

The middle of the can be the slowest feeding time for a speckled trout. With the sun at its highest point, trout will often retreat back to the deepest part of the marshes and estuaries for shelter and cooler waters.

In these areas, trout will feed on minnows, nymphs, and crustaceans.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat at Sunset?

At sunset, speckled trout will head back to the shallows where they will again use the shadows to their advantage in chasing larger prey like sculpin, sea turtles and even other speckled trout.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat at Dusk?

At dusk, speckled trout will often be found moving up into the marshy areas of the estuaries as well as into the rivers in search of easy meals. 

It is during this time trout can be found cruising the banks for unlucky worms and mice that have fallen into the water.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat at Night?

Overnight, speckled trout become increasingly opportunistic and will feed on whatever prey makes a wrong move. 

Primarily, the overnight food choices are minnows, turtles, fish, worms and mice.

A Speckled Trout’s Diet Changes With its Environment

A speckled trout, like most other trout change their diet as their environments change. This oftentimes has to do with the weather, temperature and depth of the body of water.

Speckled trout in river mouths will eat differently than ones who spend the majority of their time in deeper estuaries.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Lakes?

In lakes, speckled trout will mainly eat minnows, fish, sculpins, frogs and terrestrials. Crustaceans will also be eaten occasionally as well.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Rivers?

In rivers, speckled trout eat earthworms, leeches, nymphs, terrestrials and minnows. Speckled trout, as well as many other species of trout, spawn in rivers so eggs become a large portion of a trout’s diet throughout the fall months.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Ponds?

Pond dwelling speckled trout eat a variety of worms, leeches, minnows, frogs, nymphs and crustaceans. Ponds also provide perfect habitat for beetles, ants and midges and speckled trout will take advantage of these as well.

What Do Speckled Trout Eat in Small Creeks?

Speckled trout will not spend much time in smaller creeks except during the spawn. Throughout this time, their diet mainly focuses on nymphs, minnows, and terrestrials that are carried by the current.

They will also eat a variety of eggs throughout the fall month as well. Speckled trout are aggressive and opportunistic feeders that will eat a variety of species depending on environment, season, time of year and time of day.

The top choices for most speckled trout regardless of all the variable factors are minnows and other fish. When targeting these fish, focus primarily on their habitat and time of day as that will provide the most insight as to what they are eating.

However, you can rarely go wrong when presenting a minnow in a variety of different ways.

Conclusion

As opportunistic eaters, speckled trout consume a wide range of foods. As they age, that variety changes. Shrimp, a tiny crustacean, is the main source of food for young trout. As they get bigger, they start to concentrate on shrimp and little fish like finger mullet.

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Disclaimer: IntoFlyFishing.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Please see our Privacy Page for more information.

My name is Danny Mooers and I’ve been fly fishing for five years. As soon as I went to college, I dove headfirst into my obsession for fly angling. Every spare weekend or long break was dedicated to finding fish. I’ve fished all over North America in search of trout, salmon, steelhead and everything in between. I currently write articles for Guide Recommended and Reel Adventure Fishing. Fly angling is one of the most challenging yet rewarding hobbies any person can have. Don’t be afraid to give it a try.  It’s an addicting activity that tests everything from your fine motor skills to your patience, but it’s well worth your time.

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