The rainbow trout is a very popular sport fish. It is silver colored with black spots over its body, dorsal and caudal fins. Adult fish have a distinctive "rainbow" band along the side of their body.
Rainbow trout are native to many water. They are an easy fish to raise in a hatchery and are stocked. In many cases, rainbow were stocked in both their native and new areas. Today, they are found in lakes, ponds, rivers and small streams throughout the states.
There are many varieties of rainbow trout; some of the varieties have nicknames. We usually think of rainbow trout as a beautiful, but small fish that can be caught most places, most times of the year.
Kamloop are a type of rainbow trout that was introduced into Idaho. A Kamloop lives part of its life in a lake, and part of its life in a river or small stream. In lakes, Kamloop grow rapidly and many are over 10 pounds when they are caught. A few may get to be over 30 pounds. In fact, the world record rainbow trout was a 39-pound Kamloop from Lake Pend Oreille. Steelhead are a native type of rainbow trout that are anadromous. Anadromous means they spawn in freshwater streams, go to the ocean to grow, and return to fresh water as adults. They are common to the Clearwater, Snake and Salmon rivers.
Rainbow, Kamloop and steelhead spawn in streams from mid-April to late June. They use areas of gravel, or cobble, depending on the size of the fish. The female rainbow selects a place in a riffle area below a pool to dig a redd (nest). The female displaces the gravel with her body and tail, and the male fertilizes the eggs as they are deposited. The female covers the eggs with gravel by continuing upstream and the current carries the gravel over the eggs.
The eggs hatch in early to midsummer. The young fish may live in the stream a few months, several years, or their entire life. The juvenile Kamloop and steelhead migrate to other waters, usually after two years of rearing in the stream. The juvenile fish that migrate to lakes or the ocean will grow rapidly. The growth of those that remain in the stream varies with the amount of food and temperature of stream.
When they mature and are ready to spawn, the rainbow, Kamloop, and steelhead migrate back to the place they were born. The age of sexual maturity depends on the type of rainbow and where it lives. Most rainbow require 3 to 5 years to mature.
Spawning habitat is not available in many lakes and periodic stocking is required to replenish the population.
Rainbow trout eat insects and zooplankton in the water or on the surface. They will also feed on small fish and fish eggs. As they get larger, especially the Kamloop, they will eat larger fish. Adult steelhead holding in the river prior to spawning do not eat much, but will strike at food or lures.
The rainbow is popular with anglers. They are widely distributed in accessible waters. They have a reputation for being strong fighters which makes them popular with novice and experienced anglers alike. There are as many ways to catch rainbow trout as there are fishing methods. Rainbow will take all types of bait and lures including trolling spoons, spinners, salmon eggs, corn, or even marshmallows. Many anglers use either fly casting or spinning equipment. Knowing what they commonly feed on in that specific area will help you to choose the right bait. Ice fishing for rainbows is also popular. Usually a bait of worms, maggots, or corn is suspended off the bottom.
Famous for its rainbow trout, the Crowsnest River begins at Crowsnest Lake in the Canadian Rockies near the border with British Columbia. It weaves past Crowsnest Mountain and through ... moreseveral towns before cascading over Lundbreck Falls and flowing into the Oldman Reservoir. The upper river above Blairmore meanders through beautiful alpine meadows with solid, grassy banks and predictable flows.
Below Blairmore there is a short stint of Stillwater created by what was to be a “temporary” blockage built in 1903. Anglers here will spot highly educated, big fish that tease you with a glance and disappear between Turtle Mountain boulders the size of trucks.
The most prized water on this blue ribbon, spring fed, freestone river, is between the towns of Bellvue and Lundbreck Falls. Here the river lies in a valley walled off by tall stands of evergreen, aspen and willow trees. From Lundbreck Falls to the Oldman Reservoir the landscape opens, the river widens and strong winds from the Crowsnest Pass register their mark on misshapen trees. In addition to rainbows, large numbers of cutthroat and bull trout appear on this stretch.
Observers and guides account for the river’s productivity by its proliferous hatches. Especially worth noting is the Salmon fly hatch in the last week of May. Named for their orange colored throats, these salmon flies migrate to the river before entering dry land, creating a wonderful opportunity for anglers.
Makhabn is a Peigan tribal name meaning “river where the bow reeds grow.” When settlers began to arrive in the area the river became known as the Bow, although Big Fish River may have ... morebeen a more appropriate name since this is the reason why the Bow is so famous. Anglers in pursuit of 20+ inch trout need to put this on their bucket list, for the wild rainbows and browns in this river have one of the fastest growing rates to be found on any river system in today’s world.
The Bow rises in the Canadian Rockies inside Banff National Park near the foot of Mount Gordon and flows from glacial Bow Lake southeastward through lush mountain terrain. After passing past the towns of Lake Louise and Banff, the river exits the park and heads eastward and flows through Calgary. Its journey continues for a total of 365 miles before joining the Oldman River and forming the South Saskatchewan River.
While the river is open year-round for fishing, the optimal time to fish is after the spring runoff from mountain snowmelt. Runoff usually occurs in late May or early June, and in a typical year the river is ready to fish by late June. Most guides agree that the months of July, August, September and October are prime for catching trophy trout.
Downstream from Calgary are 40, highly coveted river miles of great trout fishing. This blue ribbon water is where the really big trout are concentrated and where snagging a trophy is most probable. Most parts of the river are not easily waded, so most guides suggest floating or drifting. If you hanker for a wilderness experience and decide to wade or fish from the banks, tread softly. Wildlife is abundant and active; bear spray is highly recommended.
Like other rivers running through southeast British Columbia and southwest Alberta, it’s possible to find knowledgeable guides in either Calgary or Fernie. Named after Na’pi, a great ... morespirit in Peigan tribal legends, the river begins high in
the Rocky Mountains, flows east, gathers tributaries and after a journey of over 225 miles, eventually merges into the Bow. The two rivers form the South Saskatchewan that finally empties into Hudson Bay.
Most interesting to fly fishers is the upper 70 miles of the river, from its headwaters to the Peigan Indian Reserve. Located within the Rocky Mountains Forest Reserve, this section of river is narrow and gin clear. Both native cutthroat and fairly large bull trout can be found here. As the river continues southward, it picks up the Livingstone River and other smaller tributaries. At Racehorse Creek it suddenly turns east and flows through an aptly named passage known as the Gap.
Open ranch land dotted with cottonwoods, aspen and pines characterize the river’s middle section. Here it’s not unusual to spot deer, black bears, grizzlies, elk, and of course, cattle. Fish here vary due to the introduction of rainbows throughout the 1920s and 1930s. The result is pure cutthroats, pure rainbows and scores of hybrids. In early July, hatches of Western Green Drakes and Flavilinea give rise to great dry fishing. It’s possible to wade the middle section although its depth can be hard to gauge accurately and rock ledges can make walking difficult.
Below the Oldman Dam near Pincher Creek, it’s possible to fish tailwater for about 7 miles. Fishing quality varies greatly from season to season so it’s best to check the status before deciding to go.
New Yorkers can be thankful to the Neversink River for providing a good portion of its pristine water supply. Anglers, in turn, can thank the city slickers for building the Neversink ... moreDam and Reservoir and creating a fantastic tailwater. Beginning high in the Catskills, the river flows in two parallel branches until it reaches the town of Claryville and becomes one large stem. The two branches remain mostly private as are other sections of the upper river. Some easements have been granted and are posted.
Famous for its storied past, the Neversink is thought to be where dry fly fishing came into being. In the late 1800’s Theodore Gordon established a home in the area and is credited with creating imitation flies that appeared so real, the fish jumped for them. Considered the “father of fly fishing” his Blue Quills, Red Quills and Quill Gordons are still in use. Other luminaries fished this river including Edward Ringwood Hewitt, George M.L. La Branche, Justin Askins and Phil Chase to name a few. Ironically, both the Gordon and La Branche properties were flooded over when the reservoir was completed.
The tailwater below the reservoir provides cold water and the water remains cool throughout most of the year. Shade trees along its banks also aid in maintaining a temperature friendly, trout habitat. Brookies tend to dominate the upper river although the river also supports browns, rainbows and the rare tiger trout. The tailwater section is managed as catch-and-release-only and restricted to artificial lures.
There is good public access at the Neversink Preserve, land set aside by the Nature Conservancy to protect the area’s intact, floodplain forest. Designed to protect migratory fish, the floodplain is also home to important wildlife including bobcats, bald eagles and black bears.
Rich in fly fishing history and lore, the main stem Delaware is considered by many to be one of the best trout fisheries in the world. Cold water releases from the Cannonsville and ... morePepacton reservoirs create ideal habitat for the fish and the abundance of insects brings them to the surface. Tales of how the river acquired its remarkable rainbow population differ on the particulars, but everyone agrees that after being stocked in the late 1880’s, the fish have thrived here ever since.
Construction of the two dams transformed both the East and West branches into trout friendly, cold water fisheries. Beginning at Hancock, New York, the two branches converge and form the main river, adding water that remains cold for many miles into the main stem. The main stem is comprised of long, slow moving pools that are interrupted by shoals and swift moving riffles.
Anglers find this freestone river both challenging and rewarding – challenging because the fish are savvy and not easily fooled, rewarding because the trout average between 15-18 inches and most are wild. Rainbows here are said to be from the McCloud River strain, known for their willingness to fight and fight hard. Trout in excess of 20 inches are not common but can be found and taken.
America’s Great Waters Coalition, a group founded by the National Wildlife Federation, includes the Delaware as one of only 19 designated Great Waters in the US. The only drawback to fishing here is that while the water is publicly owned, the river banks are mainly private and permission is required to gain access. Limited public access can be gained via Route 97on the New York side of the river.
Originating from an unnamed pond northeast of Hancock, New York, the East Branch runs for 75 miles. What matters though to anglers is stretch below the Pepacton Reservoir, a cold, ... morerich tailwater that provides great habitat for trout. From the Downsville Dam to its confluence with the Delaware, enthusiasts can enjoy 33 miles of truly great fishing.
Like many rivers, the East Branch is thought of in two sections, the upper and lower. Small and narrow, the upper water is cold and clear, assuming many characteristics of a freshwater stream. It winds through a tree lined, scenic valley with long flat pools and braided channels formed by a series of small islands. Remaining cold throughout the summer season, both wild and hatchery born brown trout thrive. Less abundant are wild rainbow and native brook although they are there to be found and taken.
Near the town of East Branch and its junction with the Beaverkill River, the lower section begins. At this point the river widens out, varying from 75 to over 150 feet across. Flows become slower with the appearance of deep pools and limited riffles. During the warm summer months the river tends to heat up, forcing the fish to flee to the cooler, upper Branch waters or the main stem Delaware.
Gravel covers much of the river bottom but there are boulders and ledges where fish can hide. A mix of wild and stocked fish run the river, with browns dominating the upper section, rainbows the lower.