Freshwater Fish: Trout
Trout are one of the most sought after angling species and will take a variety of natural and artificial baits. They favor cold, clear moving water—rivers and streams—but some species inhabit the depths of large lakes.
- Trout have fins entirely without spines, 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, since many of these distinct populations show no significant genetic difference, what may appear to be a large number of species is generally considered a much smaller number of distinct species. The trout found in the eastern United States are a good example of this. Several different types of trout have different physical characteristics and colorations, but genetic analysis shows that they are all the same species.
- Trout of the same species living in different environments can have dramatically different colorations and patterns that serve as camouflage based on the surroundings. The colors and markings can change as the fish move to different habitats. It is virtually impossible to define a particular color pattern as belonging to a specific breed, although many anglers feel that wild fish have more vivid colors and patterns.
Trout of various species range across North America, northern Asia and Europe, and, depending on the species, habitat, and food supply, can range from as little as 10 inches long and a few ounces in weight to nearly 70 pounds. Trout generally feed on soft bodied aquatic invertebrates, such as flies, mayflies, caddis flies, stoneflies, and dragon flies. In lakes, trout may feed extensively on various species of zooplankton. In general, trout longer than 12 inches prey almost exclusively on fish, if they are available. Adult trout will devour fish exceeding 1/3 their length.
Many trout species provide a good fight when hooked. Because of their popularity, trout are often raised in commercial hatcheries and stocked into heavily fished waters. While they can be caught with a normal rod and reel, fly fishing is a distinctive method developed primarily for trout. As a group, trout are somewhat bony, but the flesh is generally considered to be tasty.