About The Species – Habits And Habitat Of Trout

Top 5 Trout ClassesTrout are closely related to salmon and char (or charr). The word trout is also used as part of the name of some non-salmoides fish such as the spotted seatrout or speckled trout.

Most trout such as lake trout live in freshwater lakes and rivers exclusively, while there are others such as the rainbow trout which as such live out their lives in fresh water, or spend two or three years at sea before returning to fresh water to spawn, being called a steelhead (a habit more typical of salmon). Arctic char and brook trout are part of the char family.

The Anatomy Of A Trout

Trout that live in different environments can have dramatically different colorations and patterns. Mostly, these colors and patterns form as camouflage, based on the surroundings, and will change as the fish moves to different habitats. Trout in, or newly returned from the sea, can look very silvery, while the same fish living in a small stream or in an alpine lake could have pronounced markings and more vivid coloration; it is also possible that in some species this signifies that they are ready to mate. In general trout that are about to breed have extremely intense coloration. They can look like an entirely different fish outside of spawning season. It is virtually impossible to define a particular color pattern as belonging to a specific breed; however, in general, wild fish are claimed to have more vivid colors and patterns.

Apache TroutTrout have fins entirely without spines, and all of them have a small adipose fin along the back, near the tail. The pelvic fins sit well back on the body, on each side of the anus. The swim bladder is connected to the esophagus, allowing for gulping or rapid expulsion of air, a condition known as physostome. Unlike many other physostome fish, trout do not use their bladder as an auxiliary device for oxygen uptake, relying solely on their gills.

There are many species, and even more populations, that are isolated from each other and morphologically different. However, since many of these distinct populations show no significant genetic differences, what may appear to be a large number of species is considered a much smaller number of distinct species by most ichthyologists. The trout found in the eastern United States are a good example of this. The brook trout, the aurora trout, and the (extinct) silver trout all have physical characteristics and colorations that distinguish them, yet genetic analysis shows that they are one species, Salvelinus fontinalis.

Lake TroutLake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), like brook trout, belong to the char genus. Lake trout inhabit many of the larger lakes in North America, and live much longer than rainbow trout, which have an average maximum lifespan of 7 years. Lake trout can live many decades, and can grow to more than 66 lbs.

Trout Habitat And Surroundings

Dolly VardenTrout are usually found in cool (50–60 °F or 10–16 °C), clear streams and lakes, although many of the species have anatropous strains as well. Young trout are referred to as troutlet, troutling or fry. They are distributed naturally throughout North America, northern Asia and Europe. Several species of trout were introduced to Australia and New Zealand by amateur fishing enthusiasts in the 19th century, effectively displacing and endangering several upland native fish species. The introduced species included brown trout from England and rainbow trout from California. The rainbow trout were a steelhead strain, generally accepted as coming from Sonoma Creek. The rainbow trout of New Zealand still show the steelhead tendency to run up rivers in winter to spawn.

In Australia the rainbow trout was introduced in 1894 from New Zealand and is an extremely popular game fish in recreational angling. Despite severely impacting the distribution and abundance of native Australian fish, such as the Climbing galaxias, millions of rainbow and other trout species are released annually from government and private hatcheries.

Brook Trout – Brown Trout – and Rainbow Trout Habits

Brook TroutThere are three species of trout that are most commonly found in the United States. They are the brook trout, the brown trout, and the rainbow trout.

Brook trout in thrive in smaller streams of good water quality, occupying pools and riffles that seem quite shallow when compared to the pools brown trout frequent. In-stream vegetation provides adequate cover for the Brookie. They are very aggressive and relatively easy to catch. They normally are smaller than browns and rainbows, a 14 inch brook trout is a trophy. In large and medium sized streams you will find them near the headwaters and in major springs.

Brown TroutBrown trout are the most abundant and most sought after. They are wary and must be stalked with patience. Your shadow on the water will “put them down” for an hour or two. They require overhanging cover like undercut banks or fallen trees. They will be found in the deepest pools, moving into the shallows (riffles) to feed in early morning and late afternoon. They feed actively on emergent insects like caddis flies and mayflies. Brown trout get larger than Rainbows and Brookies; 14 to 18 inch fish are common and browns over 25 inches have been taken across the country.

Rainbow TroutRainbow trout occupy the fast, big water of the whitewater streams (and others), utilizing different habitat than the brown trout. Famous for their acrobatics (tail-walking), rainbows will give any angler quite a thrill and expect a battle right up to your net. For any trout, easy does it on pressure giving a trout plenty of room.

River fishing For Trout

Colorado River CutthroatWhile trout can be caught with a normal rod and reel, fly fishing is a distinctive method developed primarily for trout, and now extended to other species ~in region~. Understanding how moving water shapes the stream channel makes it easier to find trout. In most streams, the current creates a riffle-run-pool pattern that repeats itself over and over. A deep pool may hold a big brown trout, but rainbows and smaller browns are likely found in runs. Riffles are where you will find small trout, called troutlet, during the day and larger trout crowding in during morning and evening feeding periods.

  • Riffles have a fast current and shallow water. This gives way to a bottom of gravel, rubble or boulder. Riffles are morning and evening feeding areas. Trout usually spawn just above or below riffles, but may spawn right in them.
  • Runs are deeper than riffles with a moderate current and are found between riffles and pools. The bottom is made up of small gravel or rubble. These hot spots hold trout almost anytime, if there is sufficient cover.
  • Pools are smoother and look darker than the other areas of the stream. The deep, slow-moving water generally has a bottom of silt, sand, or small gravel. Pools make good midday resting spots for medium to large trout.
  • It is recommended that when fishing for trout, that the fisher(s) should use line in the 4–8 lb test for streamfish, and stronger line with the same diameter for trout from the sea or from a large lake, such as Lake Michigan. It is also recommended to use a hook size 8-5 for trout of all kind. Trout, especially farm-raised ones, tend to like salmon roes, worms, minnows, cut bait, corn, or marshmallows.

Ice fishing For Trout

Ice Fishing for TroutFishing for trout under the ice generally occurs in depths of 4 to 8 feet. Because trout are cold water fish, during the winter they move from up-deep to the shallows, replacing the small fish that inhabit the area during the summer. Trout in winter constantly cruise in shallow depths looking for food, usually traveling in groups, although bigger fish may travel alone and in water that’s somewhat deeper, around 12 feet. Rainbow, Brown, and Brook trout are the most common trout species caught through the ice.

Trout Fishing Records

By information from International Game Fish Association IGFA the most outstanding records:

  • Brook trout caught by Dr. W. Cook in the Nipigon River. Canada on July 1, 1916 that weighed 6.57 kg (14 lbs. 8 oz.)
  • Cutthroat trout caught by John Skimmerhorn in Pyramid Lake located in Nevada. USA on December 1, 1925 that weighed 18.59 kg (41 lbs. 0 oz.)
  • Bull trout caught by N. Higgins in Lake Pend Oreille located in Idaho. USA on October 27, 1949 that weighed 14.51 kg (32 lbs. 0 oz.)
  • Golden trout caught by Chas Reed in Cooks Lake located in Wyoming. USA on August 5, 1948 that weighed 4.98 kg (11 lbs. 0 oz.)
  • Rainbow trout caught by Sean Konrad in Lake Diefenbaker. Canada on September 5, 2009 that weighed 21.77 kg (48 lbs. 0 oz.)
  • Lake trout caught by Llyod Bull in Great Bear Lake. Canada on August 19, 1995 that weighed 32.65 kg (72 lbs. 0 oz.)

Basic Trout Fishing Tactics

•    Get a map of the area you are going to fish and make sure that you are actually fishing in trout water.
•    Use monofilament line no heavier than 6 pound test in cloudy or muddy water and no heavier than 4 pound test in clear water.
•    Fill your reel spool with backing (some heavy line) and put about 30 yards of lighter line at the end. Note: It may take several hundred yards of light line to fill your spool. Most of this line is wasted. Replace it after it becomes worn or is too short to fish with.
•    Use hooks in the #10 to #14 size range and do not use long shank sunfish hooks. You want your hook to be inconspicuous.
•    Clean your reel before you go so your line flows smoothly off the spool.
•    Get permission to access private lands that do not have easements. Most people are happy to let you fish on their property if you just ask for permission first.

Bait And Tackle For Beginning Trout Fishermen

Rigging for Ice FishingEveryone has a different idea as to which bait or method is the best for catching trout. Anything that works is good, but since you have read this far, it is assumed you would like a basic outfit to get started. An acceptable trout fishing outfit would include:

•    An ultra light, fast action spinning rod between 4 and 5 feet long, a light duty spinning or spin casting reel outfitted with 4 to 6 pound test line. (I prefer 4. I would rather hook a good one and lose it than not hook it at all.)
•    #10 to #14 regular shank bronze hooks
•    A few small split shot for those rare occasions when you need to get your bait down in swift water, and a canvas creel and a small knife.

Recommendations When Fishing For Trout

•    Know the Current – If you understand how a river or stream is shaped by moving water you’ll be able to find trout very easily. Deep pools created by the current can hold a big trout, but smaller trout can also be found in them. The large trout will most likely be in these pools during dawn and dusk.
•    Choose Your Lures Wisely – It’s really important to pick the right lures. Using the wrong type could make you miss out on opportunities. For optimal performance, we recommend the Panther Martin Spinning Lures.
•    Power Bait ONLY Works on Stocked Trout – If you’re fishing for trout with powerbait then you better make sure the trout in that body of water were stocked (farm raised) and not native. Native trout will not bite on powerbait, the only reason stocked trout will is because they are fed pellets in the hatchery and will eat anything that resembles or smells like the pellets.
•    The Best Live Bait – Hands down night crawlers are an effective live bait for catching trout, along with minnows and crayfish. A neat trick is to take a look at what lives on the shore of where you’re fishing for trout and see what might be native to their lunch or dinner menu. Mayflies, when native to the area, can be deadly during the fall season.
•    The Silver Spoon – Trout, especially lake trout love to bite on a small silver spoon. The best way to use this to your advantage is to buy a lure that mimics a spoon. Our top choice is the Kastaway Trophy Spoon.

Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout from Shore

Acknowledgements

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Fishing Tips Depot

The Outdoor Channel