Rainbow Trout Fishing
The rainbow trout is native only to the rivers and lakes of North America, west of the Rocky Mountains, but its value as a hard-fighting game fish and tasty meal has led to its introduction throughout the world. Rainbow trout, also called redband trout, are gorgeous fish, with coloring and patterns that vary widely depending on habitat, age, and spawning condition. They are torpedo-shaped and generally blue-green or yellow-green in color with a pink or red streak along their sides, white underbelly, and small black spots on their back and fins.They are members of the salmon family and, like their salmon cousins, can grow quite large. They average about 20 to 30 inches long and around 8 pounds, but can grow as long as 4 feet and weigh up to 53 pounds.
Rainbow Trout Fishing Locations
Rainbow Trout prefer cool, clear rivers, streams, and lakes, though some will leave their freshwater homes and follow a river out to the sea. These migratory adults, called steelheads because they acquire more silvery markings, will spend several years in the ocean, but must return to the stream of their birth to spawn. The Rainbow Trout has been introduced for food or sport to at least 45 countries, and every continent except Antarctica. Alaska has one of the largest Rainbow Trout fisheries in the United States spawning and releasing over One Million hatchery fish every year.
Rainbow Trout Fishing Techniques
Rainbow Trout fishing success is typically greatest in late spring after spawning and fall. Rainbow trout are voracious feeders and strong swimmers willing to hit a wide variety of lures, baits, and flies. Weighted spinners, wobbling spoons and bait (where regulations allowed) such as salmon roe or shrimp are preferred by anglers using conventional gear for Rainbow Trout. In some of the larger rivers plug fishing has become popular because it can be an effective method to fish deep fast water that is not easily fished by other methods.
Rainbow trout fly fishers find that streamers, muddlers, and egg patterns fished near the bottom can be depended on to do the trick, and numerous patterns in a variety of colors will work. In some clear water rivers during mid-summer traditional dry flies such as various stone and caddis fly imitations often produce good catches. While salmon are spawning fly fishing enthusiasts employ egg patterns to enjoy what many consider to provide the best rainbow trout fishing of the year.
Rainbow Trout Cooking & Flavor
Rainbow trout is popular in Western cuisine and is caught wild and farmed. It has tender flesh and a mild, somewhat nutty flavor. However, farmed trout and those taken from certain lakes have a renounced earthy flavor which many people find unappealing. Wild rainbow trout that eat scuds (freshwater shrimp), insects such as flies, and crayfish are the most appealing. Dark red/orange meat indicates that it is either an anadromous steelhead or a farmed Rainbow trout given a supplemental diet with a high fat content. The resulting pink flesh is marketed under monikers like Ruby Red or Carolina Red. Ask your Rainbow Trout guide or Rainbow Trout charter service for their favorite recipes.
Rainbow Trout Subspecies
The Steelhead is the common name for Rainbow Trout that migrate to spend their juvenile lives in saltwater. Like Salmon, they return to their original hatching ground to spawn. Similar to Atlantic Salmon, but unlike their Pacific salmonid kin, steelhead breed many times, each time separated by months and make several spawning trips between fresh and salt water. The steelhead smolts (immature or young fish) remain in the river for about a year before heading to sea, whereas salmon typically return to the seas as smolts.
Different steelhead populations migrate upriver at different times of the year. “Summer-run steelhead” migrate between May and October, before their reproductive organs are fully mature. They mature in freshwater before spawning in the spring. Most Columbia river steelhead are “summer-run”. “Winter-run steelhead” mature fully in the ocean before migrating, between November and April, and spawn shortly after returning. The maximum recorded lifespan for a Steelhead (rainbow Trout) is 11 years.
The Rainbow Trout is one of the most sought after fish species for sporting. With Rainbow Trout guides and Rainbow Trout charter services in almost every state in the United States and most of greater North America as well there is no shortage of pristine locations for Rainbow Trout fishing. From streams small enough to jump over to some of the largest rivers and lakes in the world, Rainbow Trout fishing can provide anglers with endless days of memorable fishing. Visit our Rainbow Trout guide and Rainbow Trout charter services page today to find the right guide or charter for your next Rainbow Trout fishing excursion.