Outdoor Articles

Rainbow Trout

by Pursue The Outdoors on November 30th, 1999 in Freshwater Fishing

One of the most enjoyable fish to catch that swim in rivers and streams of North America is the Rainbow Trout. Not only are they fun to catch, they are considered very tasty by many people. In this article I’m going to discuss a little about the Rainbow Trout, what it is, and what it has to offer.

Rainbow trout have a characteristic salmon-like shape. Dark spots are clearly visible on the tail fin, which is slightly forked. The back is usually a dark olive color, shading to silvery white on the underside. The body is heavily speckled, and there is a pink to red stripe running lengthwise along the fish’s sides that is where the trout gets the name….Rainbow. A Rainbow trout that ‘runs’ to the ocean (or one of the Great Lakes) to live for a few years and then back to fresh water to spawn is called a ‘Steelhead’.

Rainbow trout are native to North America west of the Rockies from Alaska into northwestern Mexico. Introductions have extended the range to include the Great Lakes region, south central Canada and portions of the Great Plains east of the Rockies, and southwestern Mexico. Rainbow Trout are stocked by the various fish and game departments all over the Northeast United States as well.

In the wild, most varieties of rainbows spawn in the spring, however, spawning may occur anytime of the year. Spawning takes place in small tributaries, often at the inlet or outlet of a lake, where water temperatures reach 50 to 60 F. The spawning site is usually the tail of a pool, or the riffle at the head of a pool, where gravel bars have ample oxygen-rich water, and no suffocating silt. All fish become darker when in spawning condition. Their spots become more prominent and the pink stripe more intense. This is a fun time to catch a Rainbow, seeing as how they are so picturesque.


Fishing for Rainbow Trout is a very popular activity. The average size of a rainbow is ten to sixteen inches, although they can grow to be much larger than that. They tend to grow to the size of their environment. That is, in a small stream a rainbow trout can only grow to be so big, while in a large river or lake, Rainbows can easily exceed ten pounds! There are various techniques for trying to catch a Rainbow, some of which would include: Fly fishing, Spin fishing, and Ultra Light fishing.

Rainbow Trout are voracious eaters and feed on everything from tiny insects to fairly large fish and even small rodents at times. Therefore, anglers use everything from synthetic fly’s (fly fishermen) to live minnows and worms to attempt to catch these fish. A variety of spinners and lures are employed as well. And I can’t forget the favorite bait of all time for most fish, the good old American worm. The bottom line is that Rainbow Trout are a very enjoyable fish to angle for, and if you’ve never tried to ‘catch a Rainbow’, you should give it a shot.

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