13 North American Trout Species Broken Down

If you’re interested in fishing, then you’re probably interested in knowing about the various species that we’ve listed as North American trout. There are many different species of trout, but there are only 13 of them that we’ll be talking about in this article. All of the following 13 are from the western region of North America, as they are all found in the states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana.

The trout species that live in North America vary greatly from the ones that live in Europe and Asia, and so does their tastes in where they live. Ever pondered why you see so many different types of trout here in the US? Well, that’s because the fish living in North America are from 13 different species of fish, and none of them are exactly the same.

North American trout are divided into three distinct species groups, based upon their preferred habitat. These groups are shallow, deep, and cold-water. Shallow-water trout prefer shallow, warmer, and slower moving water, where they feed on leeches and other invertebrates. Deep-water trout prefer cooler, deeper, and faster moving water, where they feed on smaller invertebrates, as well as fish. The most commonly-spawned cold-water species are the rainbow and brown trout, which may be caught in lakes, rivers, and streams.. Read more about types of trout and let us know what you think.

Coty Perry last updated this page on June 8, 2021.

There are many more subspecies and mutations of trout than those included in this article. The reality is that most of these fish will never be seen by most of us. Some are very uncommon, while others are rather frequent.

In any case, I’ve been trout fishing since I was old enough to spell “trout.” They’re a great game fish to capture, eat, and target. They are undoubtedly one of the most popular game fish in the nation for these reasons.

You will know more about trout than you ever imagined by the conclusion of this essay.


North American native trout

Let’s begin right here, in your own house. If you’re a trout fisherman, chances are you’ve caught a couple of them, regardless of where you reside in the nation. These trout are delicious to eat, enjoyable to catch, and may be found in streams, rivers, and lakes all around the world. 

Rainbow Trout are a kind of trout that may be 

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are unquestionably the monarchs of trout fishing in North America. The pink horizontal stripe that runs down the side of their bodies gives them their name. They have black patches all over their body, including the top and bottom. 

When contrasted to the forked tails of many other trout, rainbow trout have a square tail. If the pink stripe isn’t particularly distinct, this is another dead giveaway. 

These guys are native to the west coast, from southern Alaska to Mexico, although they may be found in rivers and streams all across the nation. 

If you’re like me and live on the east coast and have caught rainbow trout, that indicates they’ve been stocked. Rainbow trout are supplied across the northeast and as far south as Georgia. Steelhead and rainbow trout are often confused. Steelhead trout are anadromous, which distinguishes them from other trout species while being related to them.  

That fish species spends part of its life in saltwater before returning to breed in rivers. While they have similar coloring, form, bottom fins, and mouths, their behaviors are very different. 

Rainbow trout may grow to be approximately 16 inches long and weigh between two and eight pounds when fully grown.

A natural rainbow fish taken in Canada holds the world record at 48 pounds. 

Rainbow Trout Capture

It’s not difficult to track these guys down since they live in very conventional settings and are supplied in most of the locations you’ll find them. They like freshwater that is cold, has a firm rock bottom, and is shaded by felled or low-hanging trees. They’ll do best in waters that are between 55 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You don’t have to be fussy when selecting a trout lure, fly, or bait since they aren’t finicky. They consume insects, eggs, minnows, and worms because they are opportunistic predators. 

Cutthroat Trout are a kind of cutthroat trout.


Cutthroat trout are the second most popular trout species in North America, despite the fact that you may not hear much about them. They may be identified by their prominent crimson lower jaw, which makes them seem to be bleeding. They have considerably fewer black dots on their bodies and are more evenly distributed than rainbow trout. 

They may be found throughout the western part of the nation, from Colorado to the west coast, in their native environment. They’re common in Canada’s southwest, and you can find them all the way up the coast to Alaska. 

The fact that there are 11 subspecies depending on breeding and stocking in northern waterways makes recognizing a cutthroat trout difficult. Many national parks have already developed their own species, so expect to see many different varieties of these guys all across the country, north and south. 

Mature fish may be anything from six inches to twenty inches long and weigh anywhere from a pound to four or five pounds. Cutthroat trout have seen severe habitat loss over the past decade as a result of wood harvesting, construction, mining, and livestock rearing. The trout have been forced to migrate as a result of this. Physical obstacles, such as dams, also play a significant part in their population decrease. 

Cutthroat Trout Capture 

Because there is such a wide range of species, there are many different ways to capture them. Cutthroat trout like to hide under fallen and rotting wood cover and may be found in clean lakes, rivers, and streams. With an ultralight reel and tiny larvae or nymphs near river pools, you have the greatest chance of capturing them. Because they prefer to migrate away from cover at night, the ideal time to fish is in the evening, just before dark. 

Golden Trout are a kind of trout that is found


The golden trout is a rare and difficult-to-find alpine fish. These gentlemen are difficult to locate since they reside in some of the most isolated areas of the Rocky Mountains and Cascades.

They have a golden body with red stripes going up and down their flanks, making them one of the tiniest trout kinds. They have a distinct spawning and feeding season than the rest of the trout population, which is one of the reasons they’re so unusual and isolated. Because the inspects die out during the winter months, and winter is lengthy in their environment, they reproduce during the summer. 

As a consequence, their feeding season doesn’t start until March or April, when some Pacific trout are finishing or starting their spawn. 

Golden trout in the wild may grow up to 12 inches in length, and anything bigger than that is regarded very uncommon. It’s essential to note that they are not to be confused with palomino trout, which we’ll discuss later. Palomino trout are genetically mutated golden trout that will grow considerably bigger in size. Golden trout are a natural species of the American wilderness, while palomino trout are genetically mutant golden trout that will grow much larger in size. 

Golden Trout Capture 

Because of the size disparity, experts labeled golden trout as “threatened” after the introduction of brook trout into their habitat. Many wilderness areas have been devoted to golden trout since then. These regions may be found all throughout the Rocky Mountain region and the Sierra Nevada of California. 

Golden trout are not suggested as a sport fish, therefore there isn’t much information on how to catch them or what kind of habitat to search for them in. If you capture a golden trout, it’s recommended that you handle it gently and release it. 

Gila Trout is a species of trout native to Arizona.


If you’re fishing along the Gila River in the United States’ Southwest Corridor, you may get fortunate and catch a Gila trout. These are yet another endangered trout species that became extinct as a result of invading species sapping all of the resources that native trout previously had. 

Since then, recovery efforts have allowed these fish to flourish, and the population of the species is growing year after year. 

Gila trout are distinguished by their brilliant gold belly and copper gill covering. On the top, there are tiny brown dots and a yellow cutthroat mark directly below their mouth. These fish seldom grow to be more than 12 inches long, and they may be found in rivers and small streams throughout New Mexico and Arizona. 

The Gila National Forest has designated areas for the protection of these fish and their population. They live in coldwater mountain streams that trickle down, and they shelter from groundwater seeps under fallen trees and pools. 

Gila Trout Capture 

Because this is a distinct species, I suggest that you use appropriate capture and release techniques. Allow it to go and treat it with care. Because of the severe climate in which they reside, the population is still endangered and will likely always be. There isn’t much information on how to catch them or what lures or methods to use due to conservation efforts. Regardless, they’re still a lot of fun to look at! 

Apache Trout is a native of Arizona.


Let’s take it a step further with our trout species. Apache trout have a limited range of habitat, exclusively inhabiting higher elevation streams in Northern Arizona. They have a gold belly and an olive-colored body. They grow to be a little bigger than Gila Trout, reaching a maximum length of 20 inches, although most of the ones you’ll encounter in tiny streams won’t be more than a foot long. 

Authorities in Arizona are really beginning to stock these fish in the Silver Creek Hatchery and the Little Colorado River as part of an active recovery strategy. They spawn on gravel in the early spring and achieve sexual maturity by the age of three. 

Getting an Apache Trout 

Despite the fact that Apache Trout are a critically endangered species, they are legal to catch and consume. Fishing using tiny spinners like Panther Martins is the best method to catch them since they eat insects and invertebrates. If you’re using wet flies, stick to natural colors and imitations of mayflies. Because grasshoppers are a frequent food source for Apache trout, they are a great live bait option. 

A state fishing license and a trout stamp are required to catch them. Keep in mind that a lot of the area where you’ll be fishing for this species is Native American tribe property, so you’ll need a special tribal fishing permit. 

Species of Invasive Trout 

Many of the gamefish we like fishing for come from all over the globe, as we all know. Bass, salmon, and trout are all native to different nations, but they were introduced here with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, good intentions don’t always work out, as an invading trout species has discovered. 

Brown Trout are a kind of trout that lives in


They’re called brown trout, although they’re not always brown. They are golden in hue, with orange patches and silver bands running along their bodies. They appear more like a salmon than a trout when compared to typical trout. Because of their close kinship with Atlantic salmon, this is the case. 

Brown trout (Salmo trutta) are one of the most challenging species to maintain because of their size. They live in the same water as smaller trout, but they may grow up to 14 inches long and weigh up to 20 pounds.

Brown trout are considerably more tolerant of changing water temperatures than brook trout and can survive nearly everywhere. They feed extensively, which makes them difficult to manage and regulate due to their migratory habits, since they will eat and take over all of the water they travel through. 

Brown Trout Capture 

Brown trout, contrary to common opinion, are not simple to catch. They’re a clever species that can tell the difference between a real bug and a fake. Because they like surface lures, you’ll want fish use a spinning topwater or dry fly. 

Brown trout don’t move around much, and they’d rather remain hidden than take a chance and come out to investigate your fly. They’re not difficult to catch, however, and they put up a good fight when you do. 

Are Char Trout Actually Trout? 

The char vs. trout argument will go on indefinitely, and only a few people, like you and me, are aware of the differences. Although they are native to North America, they are not trout. These fish are part of the Arctic’s cold water salmon family. The only way to tell them apart is to look at their light-colored patches. 

Char has a light backdrop with black dots, while trout and salmon have the reverse. They also like usually cold water temperatures, so early spring and late autumn are the ideal times to look for them.

Let’s take a look at four of the most common char species. 

Brook Trout are a kind of trout that lives in


These are some of the most popular trout in the United States. Because they favor tiny streams and usually inhabit regions of low-hanging cover, you’ll need to put on your finest waders. 

Brook trout (salvelinus fontinalis) need two years to achieve sexual maturity, although they may spawn after just one year. The spawning season for most North American “trout” species occurs between September and October. 

They are endemic to the northern United States and Canada, and they grow to reach between 8 and 12 inches long. They may be found in large lake-fed streams and as far south as Georgia’s higher elevation areas. Brook trout have been introduced to Europe and Argentina, among other locations. 

One of the reasons they’re named “brook trout” is that they need a lot of oxygen to survive. This implies they can only survive and flourish in flowing water since all of the oxygen, minerals, and nutrients from lakes and ponds move downstream, allowing them to eat and grow. 

Brook Trout Capture 

Brook trout eat plankton and tiny insects, so stick to worms, leeches, and insects if you want to catch them. If you want to catch brook trout using a lure, use rooster tail spinners or anything similar. Make sure the size is tiny and that you won’t capture anything too wild. Because the smaller brook trout outnumber the larger ones, the larger ones seldom come out to eat.  

Lake Trout are a kind of trout that lives in


The big males of the char family, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush), may be found in deep waters across the northern part of the nation. They may be found in cold water reservoirs and lakes. When compared to the muskie or walleye found in the United States, they are a significant game fish in Canada. Lake trout are uncommon, difficult to locate, and much more difficult to get into the boat if you hook one. Prepare for a battle if you do. 

Another fascinating feature about lake trout is that they live for a long time. In isolated areas of Canada and Alaska, they have been known to survive for up to 40 years. This implies that if you know where to look, you may just come upon something massive. Consider what it would be like to eat a 40-year-old fish. It sounds both wonderful and disgusting at the same time. 

In any case, the average size of a lake trout is about 20 inches, although lake trout as big as 50 inches are not unusual. They’re also sold in other parts of the country, so you may locate them outside of the New England and Great Lakes regions. 

Lake Trout Capture 

They eat crustaceans, insects, and tiny fish, therefore baitfish is the best method to catch them. Because of the usual depth that they occupy, one of the things that makes them so difficult to capture is just getting to them. By the time you get to the right depth in the water column, the other fish in the area will have either eaten your bait or chewed it up to the point that the lake trout doesn’t want it anymore. 

Bull Trout are a kind of trout that lives in


The bull trout is a close cousin of the lake trout. These are one of the most common char species in the United States, and they may be found across the Pacific Northwest and Southwestern Canada. Their copper belly, silver upper body, brown eyes, and orange markings help to identify them. There are many different types of trout, but these are particularly lovely. 

They, like their brothers, grow to be very big, reaching to 40 inches in length, with the majority of them being about 25 inches. They also live for a long time, with the majority of them surviving for about 15 years.

When comparing the habitats of bull trout and brook trout, there is just one significant difference. Bull trout thrive in near-arctic conditions, so you won’t find them as often in the United States as you would in Canada. 

Bull Trout Capture 

Fishing using lures that resemble a natural baitfish presentation is the greatest method to capture bull trout. Minnows and streamer-type flies are the way to go. Use a spoon or crankbait if you’re employing hard-bodied lures. Keep in mind that because to their size, they are very difficult fish to catch, so you’ll need a good baitcasting reel and braided line. 

Trout, Dolly Varden 


The argument is open on this one, so feel free to slam me in the comments, but I think the Dolly Varden is a distinct species of trout. Because many people mistakenly believe it to be the same as an Arctic Char, I haven’t included it in my list. However, I believe there are enough distinctions between them to constitute them separate species. 

Dolly Varden may be found all throughout Alaska, Canada, and even portions of Northern Washington. One fascinating detail is that they swam across the Pacific Ocean, causing the Dolly Varden population to expand in Japan and Siberia. 

They aren’t as large as Lake and Bull trout, but they are larger than the typical brook and rainbow trout. They weigh approximately ten pounds and are distinguished by a distinctive side stripe and markings. The stripe’s precise hue varies, although it typically seems to be teal with pink dots. Aside from that, they resemble a bull trout or a cutthroat trout species. 

Dolly Varden capture 

These fish are very aggressive, particularly during their spawning period, and they consume a broad variety of foods, so capturing them shouldn’t be difficult if you can find them. They consume a wide variety of insects and larvae, as well as tiny fish. 

The best method is to use a light action rod with spinners and spoons. Powerbait is also a good choice, although all-natural salmon eggs are preferred. 

Crossing Over: The Hybrids 

Throughout North America and Canada, there are a few unusual and uncommon hybrid trout species. The odds of discovering them are little to none, although I’ve seen some bizarre stuff in my time. 

Tiger Trout are a kind of trout that lives in 


If you had a catch-and-release competition between brook and brown trout, the winner would be a tiger trout. They may not seem like either, but brook trout have a more distinct worm pattern than rainbow trout. 

Because they aren’t frequently seen in the wild, your best bet is to capture them in a stocked lake in the Great Lakes area. Tiger trout are usually 18-20 inches long and have an aggressive temperament, biting a variety of various items. 

Tiger Trout Capture 

Because of their hybrid nature, these guys can thrive in a variety of environments, so you can anticipate them to be active feeders throughout the most of the season. Because they don’t eat insects, they only eat other fish, using spinners, spoons, and live bait is the way to go. As a result, tiger trout are one of the few species of trout that cannot be caught with a fly. 



When it comes to trout species, the splake is a contentious topic. They’re a cross between a male brook trout and a female lake trout. They spread rapidly and are mainly found in the country’s midwestern region. They don’t reproduce in the wild, therefore they’re maintained in cages at breeding facilities throughout Canada. 

They get their name from a cross between speckled and lake trout. They have a more varied appetite and can tolerate various temperatures, including extremely cold and somewhat warm, since they were seeded across the Midwest and are a cross between lake trout and brook trout. 

Splake Capture 

Splake may be caught with fly fishing, spin casting, bait casting, and trolling. These fish will eat virtually everything, and since they develop so quickly, they have a voracious appetite and will consume a lot of food. Live bait, such as fish eggs or tiny insects, is also effective. 

Palomino Trout (Palamino Trout) 


The palomino trout is one of the coolest kinds of fish, and I saved it for last. These are known as golden rainbow trout, although they are not the same as the golden trout mentioned previously in this article. Throughout the 1950s, these fish were genetically altered and created in captivity. It was a rainbow trout mutation that gave them their brilliant gold-orange hue, which set them apart from the other fish. 

Of course, their brilliant color and huge size make them a prime target for overfishing and other unethical activities. 

Palomino Trout Capture

There are vast rivers and streams within 25-50 miles of my area that are home to excellent palomino trout. With some of them weighing as much as 13 pounds, Pennsylvania is an excellent location for capturing these creatures. 

One thing to keep in mind is that palomino trout are very sensitive and wary, so choose a moderate bait and avoid making too much noise with a loud outboard engine or too much movement. Choose a light-action trout rod and a dependable reel. 

They also have a strong leap for a shallow water fish, so you’ll want to bring a net. 

Last Thoughts 

This article included 13 different trout species. Unless we’re very fortunate, most of us will only ever catch a handful of the many kinds of trout found here. That said, it’s good to be well-informed and know a little bit about various trout species so you can brag to your friends and the men at the local tackle store. 

Trout fishing allows anglers to pursue a wide variety of species. That is most likely why, next to bass fishing, trout fishing is one of the most popular sport fish. Feel free to leave a remark below if you have something to contribute – I read and respond to all of them!

Good luck with your endeavors! 

In the world of fishing, there are many types of fish that will get you into trouble. Browns, rainbows, and cutbows will keep you on the hook for a lifetime. There are also species of fish that are more pleasant to catch than others. Trout, for example, are not only lovely to look at, but they are tasty and can be caught in almost any type of water environment. They are easily identified by a key set of features, which are listed in the table below, and by their particular nomenclature.. Read more about are brook trout native to north america and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What species of trout are native to North America?

The brook trout is native to North America.

How many species of trout are there in North America?

There are three species of trout in North America. The brown trout, the rainbow trout, and the cutthroat trout.

What is the rarest trout in North America?

The rarest trout in North America is the brook trout.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • trout species
  • trout vs salmon
  • types of trout
  • rainbow trout hybrid
  • hybrid trout species