How to identify a Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout coloration varies greatly with size, habitat and spawning periods. For example, stream dwellers and spawners usually show the darkest and most vivid colors and markings, while the steelhead is silvery when it returns from the sea. Though noted for the broad red or pink stripe along the middle of its sides, this stripe may not be present on all forms, particularly the sea-run steelhead and immature specimens in clear lakes.The spots characteristically extend onto the dorsal fin, the adipose fin, and the tail. Those on the tail radiate outward in an even, orderly pattern. Spots may or may not be present on any of the lower fins and there are never any red spots such as occur on freshwater and spawning specimens of brown trout and Atlantic salmon.

Where to catch Rainbow Trout

It has been extensively introduced across the lower Canadian provinces and throughout the area of the Great Lakes to the Atlantic coast, south in the Appalachians to northern Georgia and Alabama, east in the southern U.S. to western Texas and sporadically in the central U.S. as well as above the Great Lakes on the Atlantic coast


How to Identify a Rainbow Trout
 1 Olive-green colored back with black spotting all over the body

 2 Spots characteristically extend onto the dorsal fin

 3 Broad red or pink stripe along the middle of its sides


  • Current Edges
  • Drop-Offs
  • Outsides of Bends
  • Riparian Zones
  • Small Pointed Waves
  • Dams and Falls
  • Merging Currents
  • Overhanging Trees and Bushes
  • Rock and Boulder Pockets
  • Undercuts

Acknowledgements:  We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.