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9 Trout Varieties

Baked trout dish, close up shot.

Many people are unaware that there exist 14 distinct species of trout within North America and throughout the rest of the globe. After bass fishing, fishing for trout is perhaps the most popular fishing type. The fact this fish type usually put up acrobatic fights, are readily accessible, and taste wonderful when cooked are all factors that contribute to their appeal.

Scientists and anglers pursue three main kinds of trout, as well as a variety of sub-species. Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Brown Trout, and are the most frequent species. Because salmon and trout are so closely related, fishermen sometimes get them mixed up. This guide will assist you understand and identify various trout species.

Trout Species

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout, ready to be cooked.

The rainbow trout is the most well-known trout species in North America. The obvious pink stripe on the side of the rainbow trout, also called Oncorhynchus mykiss, gives them its name. Nevertheless, there are other methods to identify them. The black dots on the dorsal body and fin of the trout, as well as the square, wide tail, are further telltale signs.

Rainbow trout may be found from Mexico to Alaska along the Pacific coast. They have, however, been introduced to other areas. Rainbow trout, for example, may be found in all of the Great Lakes, as well as Alabama and Georgia to the south and much of the southern parts of Canada. This game-fish is widely stocked in bodies of water across the world, and is an extremely common fly fishing target.

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There are many varieties of rainbow trout within the family. If you’ve ever gone fishing, you’re probably most acquainted with the steelhead. This type is anadromous, thus it has a distinct appearance.

The golden trout and redband trout are two further rainbow trout subspecies. These are only found natively in the Midwest and Pacific states, although they may be supplied in other areas.

Cutthroat Trout

Cutthroat Trout aren’t as well-known as their larger, rainbow-colored relatives, but they do possess a far more appealing moniker. It’s obvious just by looking at them. Cutthroat Trout have a striking crimson below the lower part of their jaw that makes them seem to be continually bleeding. They must have little black patches mostly on the upper part of the body if you want to be very sure.

Cutthroat Trout is found mostly in the west part of the US, from the Pacific Coast to the Rocky Mountains. Cutthroat Trout may be found across southern Canada, while you can find ocean-going Cutthroat Trout in the north as far as Alaska. Cutthroats have also found their way outside their native range in northeast US and Quebec.

Cutthroat Trout is the most diverse of every trout species within northern America, with 11 distinct subspecies still living today. Every subspecies has a distinct appearance and inhabits a certain drainage or river system. Many national parks possess even their own Cutthroat species.

Golden Trout

Golden trout with lemons and herbs.

This trout happens to be an extremely tiny species of trout. The trout has a golden color and has reddish-orange colored stripes on the sides of their bodies, as the name suggests. Darker markings may also be seen at the back, just before their tail. This trout may be found in higher-altitude rivers and freshwater lakes in hilly areas.

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Surface insects and small crustaceans are eaten by golden trout. This trout has a specific feeding season that begins in May, concluding in September, owing to the scarcity of insects throughout the winter months. This species may also be found across the western United States, including California, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming.

Gila and Apache Trout

Anglers may see neither of these fishes for the rest of their lives. You may never have even heard of these types of trout unless you live in Arizona or New Mexico. Gila Trout can only be found in the Gila River’s tributaries, mostly in the Gila National Forest and the Aldo National Wilderness Area. Apache Trout are considerably scarce, occurring only in the upper Little Colorado and Salt Rivers, as well as a handful of lakes into which they have only recently been introduced.

Gilas and Apaches are uncommon even inside their natural region. In the early half of the twentieth century, overfishing, habitat degradation, and introducing the Rainbow Trout in their waterways decimated their populations. Both species were two of the first in the United States to be designated as endangered, and, according to the IUCN, Apache Trout is still Critically Endangered, only one step away from extinction.

Both the Apache and Gila trout are very uncommon. They have golden yellow bodies with black dots down the sides and are slightly about a foot long. Apache Trout may be distinguished by spots on each side of the pupil of the eyes, which gives them a rotating cat-eye appearance. Gilas’ spots are also smaller than Apaches’.

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Brown Trout

Brown trout need not necessarily be brown, therefore the term may be misleading. Brown trout come in a variety of colors, including golden and silver, depending on their inhabiting region. Despite the fact that they appear in a variety of hues, this trout species is quite straightforward to identify.

Brown trout possess orange-red markings that are surrounded by a silver-colored ring. Another distinguishing feature of brown trout is that they have a more salmon-like appearance than a few fish discussed in this guide. This is due to the brown trout’s resemblance to a kind of salmon known as the Atlantic salmon.

Brown trout originated in Germany and were later introduced to various parts of North America. They flourished in the waters of the Great Lakes area, stretching from Ontario to Georgia. Brown trout may be found from California to Colorado as well as in Alberta and British Columbia. They’re a popular among fly fishermen in the area’s rivers and streams.

Brown trout come in a variety of subspecies throughout Europe. “Sea trout” refers to anadromous-type brown trout, whereas “lake trout” and “river trout,” respectively, refer to lake and river-dwelling trout. These are not to be confused with North American-native kind Lake Trout, since they are entirely separate.

Lake Trout

Lake Trout can be considered the Char family’s older brother. This cold-water, big fish may reach a weight of over 80 pounds. The simplest way to identify them is by their size, but they can also be recognized through their creamy markings and a tail that is more deeply forked than the tails of most other species.

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Most of Alaska and Canada, as well as the Northeastern United States and Great Lakes, are home to Lake Trout. They’ve moved beyond these regions throughout time, and may currently be found all over the Rocky Mountains as well as in lakes throughout the United States.

Although Lake Trout aren’t as diverse as their Pacific counterpart, they compensate with a long list of nicknames. They’re called Togue, Namaycush, Mackinaw, Grey Trout, or Touladi, depending on the region where they are caught.

Brook Trout

The brook trout, salvelinus fontinalis, is a trout that isn’t truly a trout. The brook trout is on the smaller side of the range in terms of size. The majority of brook trout weigh somewhere between 1 to 2.5 pounds, and it’s uncommon to discover one that weighs more than ten pounds.

Aside from size, an extremely simple way to tell whether you’ve caught the brook trout is to check for worm-like patterns on the head and back, as well as white borders on the lower fins.

This kind of trout is a popular trout species that is endemic to the east part of northern America. This species can be found in every Great Lake, with the exception of Erie, as well as north to the Arctic Sea and south across the Appalachian Mountains. Today, this type of trout may be found in any body of water that is sufficiently cold, including the southern Canadian provinces and streams in the Rockies.

Although brook trout are native to North America, they may now be found all over the world. They’ve been to Europe, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, and other places. Brook trout are often called the “exchange fish” for brown trout imported from Europe.

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Dolly Varden

Dolly Varden is an immensely northerly species of trout in North America. They’re officially a Char rather than a Trout. Interestingly, it wasn’t until lately that people realized they weren’t Arctic Char. They’re a Char species that remained undiscovered for long periods before being dubbed “Trout.” Amazing.

Dolly Varden is a well-known actress. Trout may be found across the northwest, ranging from Alaska’s Arctic reaches to Washington’s northern half. They have crossed the sea; they now live in rivers in Siberia and Japan, outside of North America. The handful of landlocked populations of Dolly Varden is not the rule but the exception, since they are all naturally anadromous.

Dolly Varden, as you would expect, resemble several other fish within their region. The best criterion is size; Dollies seldom weigh more than 10 pounds. In addition, they also lack the worm-like markings associated with Brook Trout and have fewer forked tails than the Lake Trout. Aside of that, there’s not a lot to see at first sight. Sometimes, a DNA test is required to be certain about the type of fish.

Bull Trout

Bull Trout leads the chart when it comes to uncommon fish across North America. This fish can only be found in the Pacific Northwest’s cold, larger rivers and drainages. Unless you try to specifically look for one, you are unlikely to spot bull trout. Fishing in Oregon, British Colombia, Washington, and Alberta, is your best shot at catching one.

Bull trout resemble Dolly Varden and Arctic Char in appearance. Until the late 1970s, Bull Trout was even called “Dolly Varden.” The existence of a bull trout and its larger size are two of the greatest ways to identify whether you’ve caught one. You’ve probably caught one bull trout if you capture a trout weighing at least 12 pounds and doesn’t have a severely forked tail.

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Final Word:

To sum up, contrary to what a lot of people believe, trout can be found in many different types, and throughout many different regions of the world. We hope that this blog will help you distinguish between the various types of trout and their favorite habitats.