Common Name: Rainbow trout
Scientific Name: Oncorhyncus mykiss
Identification: The rainbow trout is named for the broad, lateral stripe on its sides, which ranges from pink to red. Its back is olive-green, and its belly is whitish with heavy black speckling on all fins and the entire body.
Habitats and Habits: Rainbow trout are native to the Pacific drainages of western North America but have been introduced throughout mountain streams in North Carolina. As with other trout, rainbows inhabit streams, rivers, ponds and lakes with good water quality and temperatures that rarely exceed 70 F. They have a tendency to hang out in faster currents, such as riffles and swift runs, more so than brook or brown trout. Spawning occurs primarily in late winter.
Young rainbow trout feed on small aquatic and terrestrial insects. Adults eat a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects, as well as crustaceans, fish and other small vertebrates.
Scientific Name: Salvelinus fontinalis
Other Common Names: brookie, speckled trout
Identification:The brook trout is greenish brown, often iridescent, with light red spots on its sides. It has dark, wavy, worm-like lines on the back and white edges on the fins, including the tail.
Habitats and Habits: Brook trout are native to the eastern United States and Canada. Two strains of brook trout exist, and both are now found in North Carolina. The southern strain, although identical in appearance to the northern strain, is genetically unique and is native to North Carolina. Rainbow and brown trout, two non-native trout species, are thought to outcompete brook trout for habitat and food resources. As a result, wild brook trout are often restricted to small headwater streams. Spawning occurs in the fall.
Young brook trout feed on small aquatic and terrestrial insects. Adults eat a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects, as well as crustaceans, fish and other small vertebrates.
Scientific Name: Salmo trutta
Identification: The brown trout is golden brown to olive brown with yellowish sides. Its back and sides have dark spots encircled with light yellow or white. Some brown trout also have orange or red spots on their sides.
Habitats and Habits: Native to Europe and western Asia, brown trout were introduced to North America in the late 1800s. Brown trout are often reclusive, hanging out close to underwater structure, such as fallen trees and undercut banks. Larger specimens are often caught near dark and after rain storms that result in dingy water. They can survive slightly warmer water temperatures than other trout species. Spawning primarily occurs in the fall.
Young brown trout feed on small aquatic and terrestrial insects. Adult brown trout usually reach larger sizes than brook or rainbow trout. As a result, they often consume larger food items, such as crayfish, mollusks and fish, including other trout.