Rainbow Trout

General Informatiom:

These attractive game fish strike aggressively, fight valiantly and are an angler's joy. The first rainbow trout planted in the Great Lakes were probably "steelheads." This is a strain of rainbow trout that migrates into the ocean before returning to spawn in their freshwater home streams. Rainbows have adapted well, moving in and out of the Great Lakes much as they would the ocean. As might be expected, they range widely throughout Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Tagging has revealed that some migrate as far north as the Canadian tributaries of Lake Superior.

Rainbow trout seldom swim deeper than 35 feet along the Great Lakes shores and are easily located. In forage-rich Lake Michigan, they grow 30-32 inches long and may reach 16 pounds by the time they are five years old.

Rainbow trout reproduce naturally in Lake Superior's tributaries and in some Lake Michigan tributaries as well. Unlike Pacific salmon, the rainbow survives after spawning and may spawn two or three times during its life.

Identifying the Rainbow Trout

The most obvious identifying characteristic on the rainbow trout--the rosy band running horizontally down the fish's side--is rarely visible on individuals found in the Great Lakes. Lake-run rainbow trouts, called steelheads, tend to be entirely silver or bluish-silver. Spawning or recently spawned fish may be quite dark. Breeding males have an extended, hooked jaw.

The best way to identify the Great Lakes rainbow trout is the spotting--the tail and adipose fins are distinctly and profusely spotted in black or brown. However, rainbow trouts do not have the reddish spots shown by the brook and brown trouts.

Look for:

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