Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) (Photo credit: Tennessee Aquarium)

The Frog Blog  – Fish Friday

Happy Friday everyone! Spring is here and nothing feels better than getting outside in the (sometimes) warmer weather, stretching your arms, and finding your way to your favorite stream fishing hole for some trout fishing. That is why for this iteration of the Fish Friday Frog Blog, I’d like to talk about the rainbow trout (which are also steelhead; Oncorhynchus mykiss).

Rainbow trout actually have been introduced to the Eastern United States from the West due to their popularity as a gamefish and have become naturalized. They are a member of the Salmonidae family of fishes with includes trout fish species as well as salmon. Members of this family of fish are easily recognizable by the presence of an adipose fin; a small fin located on the fishes back before the tailfin. Compared to other species of trout however, rainbows have a distinguishable color to them that can be relatable to their name:  red band across the midsection that may almost seem to be holographic to some and cheeks that are flush red. This vibrant appearance can be quite the spectacle at times and almost look “rainbow” to some. The steelhead morph of rainbow trout (name is given for the silver/grey change in look) is actually the same species. The difference between the two is that steelhead are anadromous, a lifecycle trait where they swim upstream to spawn and live most of their life in larger bodies of water. The color difference may be related to the difference in environment and food source.

The typical pond in Ohio probably should not be stocked with rainbow trout unless you intend to have a “put-and-take” fishery (you stock them for people to fish them out). This is because they are cold water fish and require deeper depths and higher oxygen levels than what the typical pond has to offer. It is not impossible though, and some pond owners with very deep ponds and a cold-water input have had success with trout survival. Personally, I prefer to wait until Spring (like now) and catch them from local streams. They do fight well and can taste good too!

by: Ed Kwietniewski

Aquatic Biologist

AQUA DOC Lake and Pond Management

Edward Kwietniewski graduated from The State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) with a Bachelor’s degree in Aquatics and Fisheries Science. He also has a Master’s degree in Lake Management from the State University of New York College at Oneonta (SUNY Oneonta). He has a love for all things aquatic and is an avid fisherman.

External Sources:

Halverson, A. (2010). An entirely synthetic fish: how rainbow trout beguiled America and overran the world. Yale University Press.

Tennessee Aquarium (2018). “Rainbow Trout: Oncorhynchus mykiss” Accessed April 5, 2018. http://www.tnaqua.org/our-animals/fish/rainbow-trout