What Kind Of Fish Eat Salmon Eggs?

what fish eat salmon eggs

Any angler that has fished, especially for trout, has used a salmon egg before. Salmon eggs usually come in red, a very popular and the most common color that you would remember, even as a child, but they also come in pink, yellow, and white. I did an article earlier that talked about trout and salmon eggs that you can read here, and it made me start thinking about what other types of fish eat salmon eggs in the wild, and if trout were the only ones.

What I found is that trout are the main predators of salmon eggs, but there is a lot more than meets the eye to why, and also that they are not alone in wanting to have a steady diet of these eggs. I want to cover what types of fish will eat salmon eggs, and why they do it.

So, What Types of Fish Eat Salmon Eggs?

The answer is actually a lot of different fish will eat salmon eggs in their diet. One important thing to keep in mind is that wild salmon eggs are normally a cold water item because they are normally found in rivers where salmon swim up to spawn. The trout is the main predator of salmon eggs because they are a cold water fish and are very common to rivers and streams where salmon will be spawning.

Even though salmon eggs are a cold water item, it does not mean that other fish will not eat them. If a fish smells something that might be edible or sees something moving in the water, it is going to try to attack and eat it, due to a natural instinct to survive.

Below are some of the common fish that using salmon eggs as bait has been very popular and successful for those who love to fish:

  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Bluegill
  • Steelhead
  • Bass
  • Catfish
  • Sucker Fish

As you can see, trout are not the only fish that people catch with salmon eggs, and it might be more interesting to find out that salmon actually eat salmon eggs. Fish eat food based off of look, smell, taste, and instinct, so there are more factors that go into what a fish eats than what we think.

Why Do Salmon Eat Salmon Eggs?

A salmon will eat the eggs purely out of instinct to survive because they know it is a source of protein and will keep them alive. There are no facts that suggest a salmon will eat the eggs of other salmon to kill off other salmon. Salmon will expel a lot of energy swimming upstream to spawn, so they will eat whatever they have to in order to make the journey to their spawning area.

There are instances though where a salmon will pick up the eggs and try to move them to a safer place and will eat a few that are in its mouth, so they might just have eaten them by accident. Animals are normally hardwired to not eat their own species for the most part, but it does happen when they get hungry. Since salmon die after swimming upstream and laying eggs, it is highly unlikely that a mature salmon egg would be eaten by another salmon because they just do not hang around long enough to have the chance to consume it.

Why Are Salmon Eggs So Popular for Fishing?

Salmon eggs are popular because they work, plain and simple. People who have been fishing for trout know that salmon eggs work well, so they always keep them in their tackle box. PowerBait and other new synthetic baits do work, but for a completely different reason than salmon eggs.

Salmon eggs are a natural bait for the fish and they know to eat them, especially fishing for trout, but other synthetic baits have other reasons. Synthetic baits try to lure fish in by smell and bright colors, and they have been known to make the smell the same as what stocked fish in a hatchery are fed. Salmon eggs have been a staple for anglers for many years, and it as long as salmon keep swimming upriver to spawn, it will continue to be a main source of food for fish.

Are Salmon Eggs Good For The Fish?

Salmon eggs are actually rich in protein and other nutrients, so they are very good for a fish health wise. Salmon eggs contain things like vitamin D, and vitamin B12, but contain fish oil and are high in Omega-3 fats which keep the fish alive and strong. Much like a human, they need vitamins, nutrients and protein to survive, so salmon eggs have everything they need to live on. Unlike PowerBait that has no nutrients in it at all or plastic worms that have no nutrients for the fish to survive, salmon eggs are a great source of food for fish to keep going. In some environments, it is a more natural bait selection compared to other options.

Fish instinctively know which foods are going to be good for them, but that will not stop them from trying to attack a plastic or metal bait.

What Else Do Fish Eat?

Fish can be very picky eaters, but they do eat a lot of different things. Some fish will only eat certain prey, while others will munch on just about anything they can get in their mouths. Fish like catfish will eat anything rotten and stinky consisting of cat food, and chicken parts, while trout will eat things that normally appear in the wild like insects and small fish. Here is a list of things that fish will eat on during the day.

  • Flying insects
  • Lizards
  • Smaller fish
  • Salamanders
  • Crawfish
  • Worms
  • Slugs
  • Frogs
  • Mice and Rats
  • Snakes
  • Fish Eggs
  • Birds (which includes ducks!)
  • Small Rabbits

So, you can now see that fish are a predatory animal that will eat just about anything that moves and looks like a meal, not just something like salmon eggs sitting on a bed in a river. Lures are also great attractants for fish because they flash and move through the water like an injured animal, and do not always have to look like anything in particular for them, so it all really depends on the fish’s mood when hungry.

Where Is The Best Place To Fish with Salmon Eggs

When thinking about fishing with salmon eggs, a river is going to be a great place because this is where the fish know there would be eggs. Fish do have a memory and they will remember eating salmon eggs months back. Lakes and ponds are another great place to fish with salmon eggs because of the different types of fish that will bite on them. Bass are normally not a big consumer of salmon eggs, but they have been known to bite on them when they are very hungry.

Ponds are good places to use salmon eggs if you are on the hunt for catfish, and possibly some crappie because they will love the smell, but bass will tend to stay away from them unless they are very hungry, so do not use salmon eggs as a staple for bass.

Streams will also be a good place to fish salmon eggs because trout tend to linger in streams more than any other fish because they are cold water fish. When fishing with salmon eggs, it is a good rule of thumb to fish them in colder water because that is where salmon will be when they are swimming upstream to spawn for the year.

get your boat ready for spring fishing

Related Question – Can Humans Eat Salmon Eggs?

Actually YES! Salmon eggs are actually very common to eat and are widely known as Caviar’s “cheaper” cousin. Since the overfishing of Beluga and Sturgeon, salmon roe is now a very popular food for high-end restaurants. Because it is packed with vitamins that are good for the fish, they also are packed with fish oil that is good for humans as well and is very healthy for us. I have never tried it myself, but people say that prepared correctly, salmon roe is a very delicious delicacy to eat.

You can even find salmon roe in grocery stores in cans or frozen. I do want to point out that salmon roe prepared for food is NOT the same thing as same as salmon eggs for fishing, so please do not go to your tackle box and start eating out of the jar. These two things are prepared differently, and sometimes extra scent is added to the fishing bait which would not be good for us humans. It might not kill you, but it is not going to taste the same and might make you not feel well.

In Summary

Using salmon eggs for fishing is one of those handed down traditions, yet there are so many questions that can be had regarding using it. Next time you hit the local lake or river and put the salmon egg on the hook you will have a little more understanding why it is such a popular bait to use. I hope that covering this topic was interesting and worth the read! 

Terry Minton

I am the owner of Fast Cast Rods. I live in the mountains of Northern California where I love to be outdoors hunting, fishing, camping and hiking with my wife and three awesome kids.

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