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Trout

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Rainbow Trout

Trout is the common name given to a number of species of freshwater fishes belonging to the salmon family, Salmonidae.

They are usually found in cool, clear streams and lakes throughout North America, northern Asia and Europe. They have no spines on the fins, and all of them have a small adipose[?] (fatty) fin along the back near the tail. There are many species, and even more populations that are isolated from each other and morphologically different. However, many of these distinct appearing populations show no significant genetic differences, and therefore what appear to be a large number of species are considered a much smaller number of distinct species by most ichthyologists. The trout found in the western United States are a good example of this.

Several species of trout were introduced to Australia and New Zealand by amateur fishing enthusiasts in the 19th century, contributing to the displacement of native freshwater fish to some extent, though not as much as the carp.

Example: Brook trout, aurora trout and the extinct silver trout all have physical characteristics and colorations that distinguish them. Genetic analysis shows however that they are one species, Salvelinus fontinalis.

Some other fishes that are part of this group include the rainbow, lake, bull, brown and rainbow trouts. Most are restricted to freshwater, but a few, like the steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) - which is the same species as the landlocked rainbow trout - spend their adult life in the ocean and then return to spawn in the streams in which they were hatched. After spawning, the adults die. This is called anadromous reproduction and is more often seen in salmon. Trouts generally feed on soft bodied invertebrates like worms, or insects.

As a group, trout are a somewhat bony fish, but the flesh is considered good eating. Additionally, they provide a good fight when caught with a hook and line, and are sought after recreationally. Because of their popularity, trouts are often raised on fish farms[?] and introduced into the streams that are most heavily fished. While they 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. Artificial flies are constructed -- "tied" - in sizes and colors to match the naturally occurring insects or baitfish. Fly rods are relatively light and long, and fly reels are manual and of a simple spool design to accommodate the fly line and backing. Fly lines are 20 - 30 meters long and are matched to the rod according to weight. Because the fly itself adds very little weight, the fly line must be heavy enough to carry the fly to the target. A leader of 2 - 3 meters is used between the fly line and the fly itself.

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Further Reading

  • Trout and Salmon of North America, Robert J. Behnke, Illustrated by Joseph R. Tomelleri, The Free Press, 2002, hardcover, 359 pages, ISBN 0-7432-2220-2



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