RAINBOW TROUT QUICK FACTS:
Rainbow trout are predators but are prey to fish, lampreys, birds, otters and raccoons.
A group of rainbow trout is called a hover.
They can tolerate temperatures of 32 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Their ideal range is between 55 and 60 degrees.
They’ve been farmed commercially since 1870.
Their meat can range in color from white to dark red and is delicious.
Rainbow trout are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, so eating them is good for your heart.
They are members of the salmon family.
Alaska is home to many trophy size rainbow trout, as is Argentina.
When I think of trout, my fondest memory is of the more than a dozen monster-sized rainbow trout that swam in a trout catch-out pond behind the campgrounds where my family and I stayed in Cherokee, North Carolina. Catching the 12-to-18-inch trout also present in the pond wasn’t a tough challenge, but trying to take those big trout was driving me nuts. Other anglers had baited with whole kernel canned corn, spinners and flies, but like me, they’d struck out.
At the local bait shop, I explained my dilemma to the owner – a Native American with a dark-haired braid down his back.
He asked, “Do you really want to catch one of those big trout?”
“Yes, sir. I do,” I answered.
“Okay, what size line are you using?” he asked.
Line size? This is a campground trout catch-out pond, was my first thought.
When I told him I had been using 8-pound test line, he had me put 4-pound on my spinning reel, paired with a very small hook. Next he asked me to hold the handle of my rod, taking the end of my line and pulling it. When the rod was almost bent double, he gently released the line and loosened the drag setting on my reel. Then as the man pulled back on my rod, I held the line, and the drag slipped easily. Next, he sold me a cup of 8-inch nightcrawler worms.
“Thread a worm on the hook, push the hook out of sight, cast it out about five feet in front of one of those big trout, and watch your line as it sinks,” he said. “Once the line moves, count to three and set the hook. Don’t tighten the drag. Let the trout run, and when it stops, start reeling. Every time the trout runs, let it take line.”
Following the bait shop owner’s directions, I caught, landed and enjoyed eating some of the largest rainbow trout any angler could ever hope to catch, including a big five-pounder.
Today, rainbow trout have been successfully stocked everywhere in the world, except Antarctica, and rainbow trout are one of America’s top-five sport fish. Originally from Russian’s Amur River along the Chinese border, and first described by the Russians in the late 1700s, rainbow trout can live 10 years.
Anglers passionately test their skills using fly rods and custom flies to fish in catch-and-release streams, but another group of trout fishermen simply enjoy catching and eating them.
Many states raise trout in hatcheries to stock them in streams, lakes and rivers where anglers can fish for, catch and eat their legal limit of trout. Some landowners put hatchery trout in ponds and charge to fish for them.
To locate put-and-take rainbow trout ponds and streams, search online based on the state in which you want to fish. Some states, like North Carolina, even offer trout fishing maps.