The trophy trout you’ve dreamed about is in the net. You reach down to pick it up to snap a picture and hesitate… Is this safe? Can trout bite? Does that big old trout in the net have teeth?
Yes, Trout have teeth. Large trout have strong jaws and can easily bite aggressively and draw blood. Smaller trout have teeth but usually small enough not to worry about. So don’t haphazardly stick your fingers into a trout’s mouth. If you trout is over 16 inches you should think about using hemostats to remove a fly.
Unlike many species of fish, trout have vomerine teeth which grow on the roof of the upper jaw. These teeth are used to hold and move food down the throat of a trout. A quick way to identify a Salmon from a Trout is the number of vomerine teeth. Salmon will have a single row versus Trout which have two rows.
One of the memories I have that demonstrates that trout have teeth was at out local Cabela’s. Our Cabela’s is one of those monster buildings, with displays, rivers and mountains.
The trout ponds inside have some brown tout approaching 26 inches. Periodically during the day the store folks feed the fish. The trout appeared to be trained, they knew that the guy in the green shirt on the opposite side of the pond is there to provide WORMS.
A small crowd gathered to watch the “worm toss”, the store worker must have thought he’d show off a little and have one of those big browns eat a worm from his fingers.
You guessed it, a larger brown decided to nose out of the water to grab onto the workers fingers holding the worms. After hearing him cuss and bandage his fingers, I definitely had my answer to the question “Do Trout Have Teeth?” ins these fish.
How to Handle Trout
Big trout should be netted, you’ll have a higher success rate and it’s better on the fish. I’ll admit I’ve “tailed” fish (when you grab the tail area just ahead of the fin). This can actually damage the trout, if squeezed to hard. When handling trout, try to support, not squeeze.
I get it, you want the picture and your afraid of loosing the fish so you hold tight. – If your plan is to release please don’t squeeze. A great technique is to keep the trout in the net facing up stream and just lift the fish above the water line. It makes for a great picture or video.
Some other trout handling tips
- Be quick – if lifting from the water, up – snap – down. Get your picture and release.
- Wet hands – dry hands and other materials stripe the protective mucus from the trout.
- Glance over the trout – take a quick look to make sure sticks, line or other debris isn’t embedder into the fish.
Guide Tip: If you’re really into catch and release. I have a whole article about handling trout. Link -> How to Hold a Trout
How to Remove a Fly From a Trout’s Mouth
Hemostats or combination scissor hemostats are the best. Sight into the trout’s mouth and find the fly, then grab the fly. Yes – if this means destroying the fly do it. The picture of your trophy is going to be more important than the fly.
With a tight grip push the hook bend away and up. I’ve noticed I cause the most damage when I don’t remove the hook with conviction.
If the fly is deeply embedded into the throat or gills. cut the leader as short as possible and release.
The below video has some techniques.
One More Cast
Be careful around a trout’s mouth. With proper netting and a quick hook removal, you can snap your trophy pics and make another cast. I like to think that trout group up, so making another cast quickly can give you a shot at another memory.
More Nymph Fishing Articles – WHY because NYMPHS Catch Fish!
- Best Rod, Reel and Line for Nymph Fishing – All about the equipment to nymph fish.
- How to Tie and Fish a Traditional Nymph Setup – An introduction to rigging up for nymph fishing.
- Nymph Fishing Styles Explained Traditional, Euro and Indicator – An overview of nymph fishing techniques and when to use them.
- Reading the Water for Nymph Fishing – Learn how to recognize the right conditions to fly fish with nymphs.
- A Complete Guide to Stillwater Nymphing – The title says it all, learn how to nymph fish lakes.