Trout Guide Secrets: The Bulb

July 19, 2007 By: Marshall Cutchin

I remember the first time I saw someone — in this case one of the great trout fisherman of our time — use a stomach pump on a trout. My reaction, if I remember correctly, was to swallow the word ‘gross’ as it started out of my mouth. Somehow it grated against my sensibilities, and it still does a little. But there’s no question that, short of killing a fish, using a stomach pump is the only foolproof way to find out what a trout is eating. John Berry describes the right technique in Arkansas’s Baxter Bulletin: “To pump the fish’s stomach, I fill the pump by inserting the tube in the water and squeezing the rubber bulb. Then, while securely holding the fish, I gently insert the tube down the fish’s throat as far as I can. I take particular care not to injure the fish during this process. I gently squeeze the rubber bulb, forcing the water into the fish’s stomach. Then I gently remove the tube from the fish. The suction created by the pump extracts the stomach contents.”