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Old 09-12-2021, 03:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 185
Shocked by Mergansers

Have you ever seen a Merganser eat an 8" trout?

I'll tell the story. I hit a local river today that's not well known for trout, but is stocked in the spring. I expected to drum up a few smallmouth bass. I walked the rocky riverbank downstream of the town bridge and fished a little woolybugger variation. I caught a 10" bass, then 4 mergansers showed up, swam around briefly and swam downstream.

I fished my way upstream to the town bridge where I saw a rise. I put on a Griffin's Gnat and had one hell of an hour. I hooked, played and lost an 18" brown, then netted 2 sixteen inch browns and finally a 12" brown. My head was spinning. I can only assume the river recieved a fall stocking.

The mergansers showed up at the bridge. They started fishing. They would lurch forward in the river and beat their wings, lurching forward again. Other times, they completely went under., swimming fast forward. All four did this in close quarters,--so were they hunting as a team? One merganser came from the river with an 8" trout in its mouth, like a giant mustache! The others ran to it, but the merganser flipped the trout in a split second down its throat whole. It was gone. That was my fish!!

Now unscientificlly I understand where the stocked trout go after spring stocking. I always assumed mergansers had their minnow diet and that's all. I've personally stocked remote creeks and returned to find no trout. And one creek in particular always has mergansers in a big family. It looks to me now that we're just supporting Mergansers Unlimited. I learned alot today!!
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Old 09-20-2021, 11:27 AM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 93
Mergansers can do some serious damage. I shot one years ago during duck season and it had a few baby bass in its gullet. We typically have quite a few flocks that frequent our pond in the fall and I have always worried about their damage to any of the smaller Brook trout. I have never seen mergansers feed on an 8 inch trout but have seen cormorants do major damage to stocked trout. They can destroy a fishery entirely of they show up. Not sure what damage loons can do.
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Old 09-20-2021, 01:22 PM   #3
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Western Adirondacks
Posts: 4,370
I recently erected a new camp on a small private no-motors lake. A portion of the very small association fee goes to an annual stocking of brook trout. I was told it essentiall was to feed the loon population, which returns every year and raise a chick or two. I have also seen otters swimming which I am sure take their share as well.
"Now I see the secret of making the best person, it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth." -Walt Whitman
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Old Yesterday, 03:34 PM   #4
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Gloversville, NY
Posts: 1,257
I can't speak directly to how large a fish a Merganser can eat but I can verify that a loon can swallow a 12" fish with no trouble so an 8 inch fish for a Merganser seems like a no brainer to me. Fish eating birds can swallow a much larger fish than you would think. And those Cormorants on Lake Champlain..........I won't go there! I have also witnessed Mergansers fishing together in front of my camp where I could watch them swim under water and I do believe that they hunt together and work together to capture prey.
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