Types Of Trout: All About Trout And Their Management

Trout is a highly coveted freshwater fish. They’re incredibly delightful to catch, and when caught, they taste fantastic as well as able to thrive in a variety of settings. There’s almost certainly a non-native trout species in the water whether you’re out at sea, floating down a river, or cruising around a lake.

All trout species are genetically similar, and many fish species that we call trout aren’t trout at all. We’ll talk about the 12 trout species, what a trout is, and the substantial impact on ecosystems that trout have had throughout the globe.

What Is A Trout?

Oncorhynchus, Salmo, Salvelinus, Salmoninae, and Salmonidae are all scientific groups of trout that belong to a few specific scientific genera and families. Some fish that live in saltwater but are not salmonids are referred to as trout.

Since the word “trout” isn’t a scientific categorization, there’s a lot of misunderstanding with it. Rather, it’s often used to describe salmon-shaped fish that live in freshwater habitats. mLater in the article, we’ll talk more about the debate surrounding the term trout.

Rainbow trout are frequently confused with salmon and char fish, and they may be mistaken with any of them. The saltwater speckled trout, for example, is not a trout but rather part of the drum family.

Trout are adaptable, with a high survival rate when introduced into new settings, which is one important thing to keep in mind about them. The majority of trout species in the world are found in North America, however they were introduced from other areas.

It’s also important to keep in mind that trout are closely connected, even if they’re classified as different species or styles. A larger group of trout breeds, as well as several common trout breeds, may interbreed with one another. As a result, explaining distinct species may become considerably more difficult than one would anticipate.

In their native stream habitats, trout feed on fish, insects, and crustaceans, making them apex predators. In some settings, they serve as a food source for birds of prey, animals, and larger fish, which is crucial to the ecosystem.

The 12 Different Species of Trout in North America You Should Know About

1. Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Rainbow trout may reach lengths of 20 to 30 inches (51-76 cm) and weights of up to 8 pounds (3.6 kg). Their pink stripe on their side, as well as black spots on their dorsal fins and a square tail, are the easiest way to identify them.

From Mexico to Alaska, these trout may be found in the Pacific coast of North America. They have been introduced in bodies of water all over the globe, including the Great Lakes, the Southeast United States, and Southern Canada, due to their popularity with anglers. Except for Antarctica, rainbow trout may be found on every continent.

Rainbow trout are able to spawn in the sea and then return to their native habitat. Steelhead trout are a kind of rainbow trout that can do this. Rainbow trout are available in a few different varieties, each of which is essentially the same species but varies due to their habitats.

3. Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

The red or orange tint on the lower jaw and neck, as well as the tiny black dots along their back, are best used to identify cutthroat trout. Cutthroat trout can grow from 6 to 40 inches (15 to 102 cm) long and weigh between 0.4 ounces (11 grams) and 41 pounds (19 kg). They come in a variety of subspecies and populations.

Populations that have been isolated in tributaries for extended periods and whether or not they have access to the sea are responsible for the fifteen subspecies of cutthroat trout.

These trout may be found across the western half of the US, but have been introduced to the northeast and can go as far north as Alaska. They have a natural distribution that stretches from California to Washington.

3. Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita)

The golden sides of golden trout and the red, horizontal stripes along their lateral line are the best ways to identify them. They grow to be between 6 and 12 inches (15 and 30 cm) long in their natural environment. They can grow to be up to 11 pounds (5 kg) in weight in regions where they have been introduced.

Since they are indigenous to the Golden Trout Creek tributaries, they are the state fish of California for a reason. Most of the time, they hybridized with rainbow trout or cutthroat trout after being introduced into various lakes and river systems.

Since they are out-competed by other trout species that have been introduced into their natural habitat, golden trout are classified as endangered.

4. Brown Trout (Salmo trutta)

The slim heads and reddish-brown bodies with black markings of brown trout are the best way to identify them. Because trout in lakes grow much larger than trout in streams, their size is naturally determined by the body of water they reside in. Brown trout may grow to a size of 100 cm (39 in) and weigh up to 20 kg (44 lb) when they are largest.

From Norway to Russia and from Iceland to Pakistan, they have a natural range in Europe. In order to promote both a sportfish and a predators for population management, brown trout were extensively introduced into the Americas, Australia, Asia, and eastern parts of Africa.

Brown trout are potamodromous, which means they go from lakes to streams to spawn in a variety of ways. Brown trout spend the majority of their time in the ocean and reproduce in freshwater, so there is also an anadromous line.

5. Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

The distinct marbled pattern that appears on their backs is best used to identify Brook trout. They may weigh 0.3 to 3 kg (0.66 to 6.61 lb) and grow between 25 and 65 cm (9.8 to 25.6 in) in length.

Brook trout may be found in the Appalachian states of Georgia, North Carolina, and the Mississippi River, as well as in the northeastern states of North America. Western United States, Europe, South America, and Australia have all been introduced to them.

Their populations have plummeted dramatically in the southern sections of their range, with brown and rainbow trout introduced, as well as habitat destruction, pushing them to higher altitudes.

6. Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush)

The brown color, white spots, and forked tail of lake trout are one of the biggest trout species. Lake trout have an average length of 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 millimeters) and a 15 to 40-pound (6.8 to 18.1-kilogram) weight. The biggest lake trout may weigh over 100 pounds (46 kg).

Lake trout belong to the Salvelinus genus and are classified as trout, despite being a char rather than a “genuine trout.” Because of their prominence in the sportfishing community, they also deserve to be on this list.

Lake trout may be found in Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern United States in their natural habitat. They, too, have been introduced to non-native waters across the globe, most notably in Europe and South America. Like every trout on this list.

7. Splake (Salvelinus namaycush)

Splake is a crossbreed between a male brook trout and a female lake trout that has been created. They are typically bred and introduced as a sportfish by wildlife management organizations because they do not reproduce successfully in the wild.

The average weight of a splake is between 2 and 4 pounds (1 and 2 kg), with 20-pound (9 kg) specimens not uncommon. While they were first tested in an effort to assist dwindling populations of trout in the Great Lakes, they don’t really have a natural range as a hybrid.

8. Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus)

The unusually huge mouths and heads of bull trout earned them their name. They may migrate or not migrate, depending on the pattern they choose. Bull trout migrating to other areas grow considerably larger than bull trout in the same area, reaching lengths of 103 cm (41 in) and weights of 14.5 kg (32 lb).

These fish are listed as vulnerable in their other natural habitats that extend across the northwestern region of North America, and are considered to be extirpated from their native range in northern California.

9. Gila Trout (Oncorhynchus gilae)

Gila Trout is a unique trout species found only in Arizona and New Mexico’s Gila River tributaries. Their yellow body with brown dots makes them easy to spot. They typically grow to be around 30 cm (11.8 in) long.

Although all three are “true” trout species, Gila trout are closely related to rainbow trout and Apache trout. They’re endangered due to competition from hybrid trout, the introduction of rainbow trout, and habitat loss, in addition to their limited range.

10. Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache)

The golden bellies, black head, and appearance of someone wearing a mask over their eyes are the best ways to identify Apache trout. They grow to be between 6 and 24 inches (15 and 61 cm) long, however the majority of them are less than 10 inches (25 cm) long.

The upper Salt River basin and the upper Little Colorado basin are home to the Apache trout, which is Arizona’s official fish. Around the Grand Canyon and the Pinaleno Mountains, they have been exposed to similar habitats.

11. Marble Trout (Salmo marmoratus)

The huge heads and marble-patterned mottles on the backs of marble trout are the easiest way to identify them. Adults range in length from 12 to 27 inches (30 to 70 cm).

Only tributaries in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro are where they may be found in their natural habitat.

Due to competition from introduced trout species and pollution, this fish has been declared extirpated in certain areas.

12. Palomino Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita)

The palomino trout is one of the most sought-after trophy fish in the United States, and it is also known as the golden rainbow trout. This species has a world record of 13 pounds, 8 ounces.

The fish are ostensibly regular rainbow trout, according to legend. A bright yellow fish was found in a fish hatchery with a genetic mutation. In streams all over North America, scientists studied the specimen and cross-bred this characteristic to create self-sustaining populations of these golden rainbow trout.

Their original range extends along the Pacific Coast as a rainbow trout offshoot, however today they may be found in West Virginia, the Great Lakes Region, and the Pacific Northwest.

Clarifying The Confusion Surrounding “Trout”

It’s worth delving into in more depth here, even though we only scratched the surface of what a “genuine trout” is and how it’s classified. Several, many, many species are referred to as trout, even if they aren’t trout at all, are closely related, or are hybrid populations that have no natural populations.

Trout refers to any species of fish that belongs to the Oncorhynchus, Salmo, Salvelinus, Salmoninae, or Salmonidae taxonomy groupings. The fact that, depending on who you ask and where you get your information, whether some species are trout, char, or salmon may become muddled.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game categorizes the Dolly Varden trout as a char, not a trout, as an example. Yet, this is a member of the Salvelinus genus, which includes brook trout, lake trout, and bull trout and is one of the species that may be called “trouts.”

That’s sort of the idea. If it seems like I’m spinning in a circle, that’s because I am. Trout may refer to a variety of salmonid species, depending on who you speak with. It isn’t a scientific term, and it may refer to anything from char to salmon.

The important lesson to learn from this is that generalized phrases don’t always provide a fast and simple explanation. Instead, when it comes to identification and categorization, they prefer to complicate things, as with the case of the word trout.

Trout: Sportfishing, Conservation, and Introduction

Trout are one of the most sought-after freshwater species for sport fisherman, behind bass fishing. They have been utilized as a population-control species for years and have shown to be a valuable natural resource as a food source.

The Impact of Sportfishing Most People Don’t Know About

The vast bulk of funding for wildlife management and conservation comes from sportfishing, much as hunting. Although there are organizations that provide support to these efforts, their contributions are often significantly smaller than the catches made by anglers.

Most people don’t realize how much fun fishing can be. Overfishing is a serious issue, and both hunting and fishing have ethical problems for some individuals.

In the United States, most wildlife management departments receive little to no funding from the government. Their sales of licenses, sometimes combined with equipment sales in stores, is where they bring in most of their money.

Conservation zones are set up and maintained by wildlife management departments, which also collect population data and implement mitigation initiatives.

Many ecosystems would be completely destroyed if these people and the outdoorsman who fund it did not work. Sportfishing, especially for trout and the health of American waterways, is a significant component of it.

Sportfishing brings in significant economic benefits to towns on the water, in addition to supporting species preservation. Guides are employed by the company, and visitors are drawn to the area.

The How Trout Populations Are Managed

The United States has some highly intensive and particular management programs that are maintaining both trout populations and larger ecosystems stable, despite the fact that they are managed differently around the world.

A Great Lakes Restoration project in the mid-1900s is perhaps the greatest example. We’ll try to explain it as simply as possible, even if it’s a difficult thing to do.

Inadvertent releases and new channels from the ocean brought in new predators, as well as a lot of competition for native species, with the introduction of alewives, lampreys, and other invasive species to the Great Lakes. Massive overfishing and pollution had to be battled by these fish as well.

It was decided to introduce salmonid species, including a few salmon and trouts, in order to revitalize the ecosystem. The Great Lakes would become a premier freshwater fishing destination, while smaller invasive fish populations would be reduced, thanks to these fish.

Several of these imported species had a difficult time reproducing in the lakes, which was one issue wildlife managers faced. Either they didn’t spawn or the young fish perished as a result of water temperatures.

Eggs were gathered and grown in hatcheries on a regular basis to counteract this. The juveniles were released into the lakes and tributaries after they had grown sufficiently. Millions of trout, salmon, and other fish are released every year by state governments as part of this practice, which is still going on today.

Trout lakes were created in addition to the large lakes. The trout wildlife managers introduced to these much smaller lakes entirely devote their management to them.

Native trout populations are dwindling throughout the nation, with some parts having barely any fishing seasons and others being entirely illegal to fish. This decreases the pressure they are under from non-native trout species.

The majority of wildlife management programs balance introducing trout to new places with calculating the probable harm they might do to native species.

The arrival of trout in the Great Lakes is widely regarded a tremendous triumph, whereas native species seem to be simply out-competed in the southwest.

Trout Introduction Projects: Good, Bad, or Something in Between?

Trout have been introduced to waterways all over the world due to their sportfishing popularity. While others have seen native species populations suffer, some areas have had positive outcomes and a more diversified ecosystem.

When it comes to introducing new species to an ecosystem, the most important thing to keep in mind is that the ecosystem will change dramatically as a result of their presence.

The introduction of trout species was very successful in the Great Lakes. Problem species such as alewife were brought under control. The ecosystem began to diversify as a result of constant salmonid restocking, and the economies around the lake saw a significant boost.

Apache and Gila trout populations in other areas such as the Southwest United States have decreased. These smaller trout were out-competed for resources in their rivers by larger, introduced species that preyed on them.

Judging whether or not the introduction of trout is “fair” must be done on a case-by-case basis. Each project has unique aims and may have unanticipated effects.

Introducing a new species has caused damage to ecosystems in the past, and it will continue to do so. It’s simple to highlight the failures that have befallen purposefully introduced animals from mongooses ending up in Hawaii to monkeys reaching Florida.

Success stories, on the other hand, have been forthcoming. Exotic fish species in Florida’s canals were reduced, and beavers reintroduced to Yellowstone Rivers rescued their rivers, thanks to the work of peacock bass.

The truth is that when an ecosystem is already near collapse and proper research has been completed, these initiatives have greater success rates.

While not all non-native species are harmful, it takes time to establish the full consequences of their introduction.

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