Why do Trout Jump Out of the Water?

Ever wondered why do trout jump out of the water? I was taken by surprise the first time I saw a trout fly out of the water, but I’ve learned it’s actually fairly common. Trout jump out of the water to catch insects, relieve irritation from lice and parasites, or shake hooks out of their mouth.

Sometimes trout may need to jump to get away from dangerous predators or adjust their temperature too.

Here’s the scoop on the top reasons why trout jump out of water.

  • Trout jump to eat
  • Trout Jump to remove parasites
  • Trout jump to shake hooks
  • Trout jump to escape predators
  • Trout jump to adjust temperature and bladder

Why Do Trout Jump Out of the Water?

Trout are similar to salmon with their jumping, which may happen both when they are swimming around or caught on a line. Brook trout are the smallest and don’t jump much compared to large rainbow trout that jump a lot while moving upstream.

The main reasons why trout jump include catching insects to eat, removing irritants like lice or parasites, and getting rid of fishing hooks.

It’s in trout’s natural instincts to jump, and the force of their jumping can clear out their mouths to keep them comfortable and healthy. Sometimes they may jump to escape predators or adjust their temperature, too. It’s pretty impressive how high trout can jump – around 4-5 feet or even higher in some cases.

A lot of times trout just need to jump 1-2 feet in the air to shake free of anything irritating them or catch a tasty treat like crunchy insects.

Trout Jump to Eat

One of the top motivators for jumping trout is their diet. Like most fish, trout will eat almost any food that’s available to them, especially aquatic and terrestrial insects.

Trout may feed on leeches, worms, crustaceans, and smaller fish, but insects are the easiest to eat and are found both underwater and above the water’s surface.

While trout can eat underwater, if they want something on top of the water like caddisflies, mayflies, midges, or stoneflies, they may swim up fast and jump.

These insects hatch on top of the water, generating a trout feeding frenzy where jumping comes in handy. Mayflies are especially popular for hungry trout because they fly low to the surface, so light jumping is enough to secure a good source of food.

Trout Jump to Get Rid of Parasites

Trout are susceptible to lice, leeches, external protozoa, and parasites, which may hitch a ride on their scales and gills. These tiny creatures are often a source of irritation for trout, but jumping out of the water creates a good splash to effectively clean themselves and eliminate lice or other parasitic insects.

Lake trout are most affected by parasites, but they are smart enough to solve the irritation by leaping in and out of the water. Lake trout are likely to jump to get rid of uncomfortable and irritating parasites, which will come loose as the fish hits the water.

Trout Jump to Shake Hooks

Why do Trout Jump Out of the Water?

It’s understandable that trout, or any other fish for that matter, want to shake free of hooks in the mouth or throat. That’s hard to do underwater, but trout have a forceful enough jump to dislodge hooks when they come splashing back down.

Whether it’s a stubborn hook stuck in their mouth or they’ve just hit the line, trout will do what they can to relieve the discomfort.

Trout may flip and flop as you’re reeling them in, or even breach the water unexpectedly in an effort to free themselves of the hook. It’s at this point that angles may lose a hooked trout if it starts frenzied jumping.

Trout Jump to Escape Predators

Trout may also have to jump to get away from predators if fast swimming won’t suffice. Ospreys, pelicans, eagles, and herons like to feast on trout if they can pluck them out of the water. Jumping gives trout the chance to move out of the way and confuse predators.

This is also true for bears, raccoons, and river otters, which use their front paws to grab hold of trout underwater. Trout propel upwards out of the water to escape from predators’ grasp, although they will need to keep jumping and swim fast to stay safe from large, powerful mammals.

Trout jump higher when they are scared, and fear may push them to jump up to 12x their own length.

Animal predators are one thing, and anglers are another. Trout are notoriously shy and picky, and if they get startled by a line, hook, or bait, they may jump in response to the stress.

Trout may also get spooked by watercraft, which is why you could see them jumping alongside your boat.

Trout Jump to Adjust Temperature and Bladder

Trout are cold-blooded with body temperatures that change based on the surrounding water. Trout prefer water temps between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit. When trout feel cold in water below 50 degrees, they will eventually need to jump to warm up.

Jumping is a good way for trout to quickly improve their temps, which is important because they may slow down and even develop serious illness from hypothermia if they don’t move enough in cold waters.

Adjusting temperature isn’t the only body regulation benefit from trout jumping. Trout can readjust their bladder by jumping. As the swim bladder fills up and bulges, its increased volume displaces water and makes trout more buoyant.

Eventually, the fish float up toward the surface before jumping. This action readjusts and deflates the swim bladder, which brings buoyancy levels down too.


When you’re on the lake or river, you may notice trout jumping. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and lake trout are more likely to jump than small brown trout, although any of these fish can leap up and out of the water.

The main reasons why trout jump out of the water is to eat insects like mayflies and stoneflies, shake off parasites and hooks, and get out of the way of predators. Jumping also helps with trout temperature regulation and bladder readjustment.

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