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Home Trout How to Identify Each Trout Species


How To Identify Each Trout Species


Brook Trout



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     Identifying trout by species in the field is often not as easy one would think because we humans are used to seeing nice, pretty, pictures and paintings of the various trout species displayed in their full colors. However, due to variances in habitat quality and food sources, a wild trout's colors can often appear muted; sometimes making them hard to identify.


Book Trout-Brook Trout


     Of the three species of trout found in western North Carolina streams, the Brook Trout is the easiest of the three to identify. First, note the leading edges of the Pectoral, Pelvic, and Anal fins which, on a Brook Trout, are always white; even when the fish's other colors are muted. Next, look at the fish's back near the Dorsal fin and note the pattern of squiggly yellow lines on a dark green background which form the fish's camouflage. No other trout species found in North Carolina streams has this pattern of squiggly yellow lines on its back. 


Speckled Trout-

     The difference between a Brook Trout and a Speckled Trout is that the Brook trout is a native northern species and the Speckled Trout is a native southern species. In fact, a study conducted by National Park Service Biologist Robert E. Lennon in 1967 showed that southern Speckled Trout were usually smaller and had more speckles which were a brighter color of red than northern Brook Trout. In addition, the eyes, snout, and lower jaws of the southern Speckled Trout were larger than their northern counterparts and their pectoral fins were longer as well (click here for more informaiton).


Brown Trout-

 Brown Trout


     Brown trout are also relatively easy to identify if you know what to look for. In fact, besides its overall coloring from which the species derives its name, the Brown Trout's most distinguishing characteristic is the red and black dots surrounded by a light colored halo interspersed along the fish's sides that give its identity away.  


Rainbow Trout-Rainbow trout


     Last of all, we have the Rainbow Trout which, contrary to common perception, is perhaps the hardest of the three trout species to identify in the field The reason for this is that we are used to seeing pictures of Rainbow Trout with a nice, pretty, pink stripe running down either side of the fish. However, wild rainbows are often muted in color and thus they sometimes appear more silver than pink. However, Rainbow Trout do not have leading, white, edges on their Pectoral, Pelvic, and Anal fins and they do not have light colored halos around the dots on their sides. Also, when the pink color is muted, they will often display a faint pattern of diamonds placed adjacent to each other running down each side of their body.




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