The Rainbow Trout's Long, Strange Life

Read about the unique life of the beautiful rainbow trout.

rainbow trout
The Rainbow Trout Lives A Strange Life

For those who have never had the pleasure, rainbow trout are a real treat.  In my youth I spent time with my dad, navigating the trout streams of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa. Dad always said, when referring to trout fishing, "Around every corner is a new view, each more beautiful than before."  It took me until my early twenties to actually appreciate what he meant by this.

Trout fishing
One of my favorite pictures: JT on the Salmon River, Stanley, ID

People say trout are relatively easy to catch.  Well, for dad and me, it wasn't always that way.  But what many people don't know is that there's more to these fish than meets the eye. In fact, rainbow trout have quite a fascinating life cycle. Here's a look at how these amazing creatures come into existence and how they ultimately meet their ends.

Rainbow trout eggs are fertilized in late winter or early spring and are incubated in gravel nests called "redds." After hatching, the young trout, known as "fry," spend their first few weeks of life feeding on small insects. As they grow bigger and stronger, they transition to a diet of crustaceans, smaller fish, and other aquatic invertebrates. By the time they're one year old, rainbow trout are usually around eight inches long and ready to spawn.

Spawning generally takes place between late April and early June. After digging a nest and scattering their eggs, the female trout will aggressively defend her redd from any potential predators. The male trout will also stand guard, though not as zealously as the female. Once the eggs have hatched and the fry have dispersed, both parents will abandon the nest never to return.

From there, it's every trout for itself. Rainbow trout can live for up to seven years in the wild, but most only make it three or four due to predation and human exploitation. Those that do manage to survive long enough will eventually succumb to old age or disease.

Best Ways To Catch A Rainbow Trout

There are many ways to catch a rainbow trout, but some methods are more effective than others. One of the best ways to catch a rainbow trout is by using live bait such as worms or minnows. Another good method is to use lures that resemble the natural prey of rainbow trout. Some of the most effective lures include spinners, spoons, and flies. Rainbow trout are also often caught using baitfish.

Another good way to catch rainbow trout is by still fishing. This involves simply casting your line out into a deep pool of water and waiting. Another effective method is to use a float rig. This involves attaching a float to your line above the lure or bait. The float will keep your line and bait suspended in the water, making it more likely to be noticed by a trout.  It's similar to using an old fashioned red and white bobber.

The best time to catch rainbow trout is early in the morning or late in the evening when the water is cool.

No matter what method you use, be sure to fish in areas where rainbow trout are known to congregate.  In a stream, look for large rocks and cast just behind it, downstream, and if you can hold your lure steady in the current, the trout are likely to attack.  They use the rock to hide and ambush prey as it floats downstream.

Another place that's been good for me is on an outside turn of a stream.   Trout tend to congregate in the deeper pools where the stream turns and the current flows into the pool.

What's The Best Time To Catch Trout?

The best time to catch rainbow trout is early in the morning or late in the evening when the water is cool. Rainbow trout are also more active during periods of high rainfall.

Rainbow trout are a delicious, easy-to-catch fish that provide anglers with hours of enjoyment—and they're full of surprises too! Who would have thought that such an unassuming creature could have such an interesting life cycle?  If you've never taken the time to make a trip to a beautiful stream to introduce yourself to the rainbow trout, put it on your list.  Maybe if you're like me, once you do, you'll be hooked.  Pun intended.

For more info on how to catch the rainbow trout, click the button for our guide to the 7 Best Trout Lures To Catch More Trout.

Thanks, JT!  Miss ya.

Cheers to the outdoors,

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