In a recent post, oh-so cleverly titled Mousing Accomplished, I related how my pledge to catch a trout on a deer hair mouse pattern while on a brief summer tour of Alaska was saved at nearly the last opportunity by a stroke of good luck. The good news is, my experience was entirely atypical, thanks to a preposterous, never-before-seen Alaskan heat wave. Normally, luring voracious Alaskan rainbows to swung and skated deer hair mouse patterns is relatively easy and fantastically entertaining monkey business.
The picture above of the stomach contents of an unintentionally mortally wounded trout caught on the Kanektok River, shared by the staff of the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Alaska, should provide all the proof one would ever need to confidently tie on a mouse pattern when hunting Alaskan rainbow trout. To be fair, the unfortunate souls above are those of the common shrew, and not mice. This is, however, an altogether unimportant distinction. The point is that trout like rodents. A lot.
Despite their affinity for rodents, finding almost 20 in the belly of any one trout is a bit unusual. The folks at Togiak National Wildlife refuge have suggested that bank erosion may have led to an unexpected swim for a family of shrews, much to the trout's delight. But it's also worth noting that shrews don't only end up in the water accidentally, or on a daring dash to cross to the other side. Shrews feed almost consistently due to their incredibly high metabolism and even do so aquatically, diving to the bottom of water bodies to feed on aquatic invertebrates, able to hold their breath for up to a minute.