Ontario Fish Species

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Trout Fishing

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Rainbow Trout

Salmo gairdneri is Latin for the salmon of the Atlantic and gairdneri is after Dr. Gairdner, a naturalist in the employ of the Hudson’s Bay Comp any prior to 1840. Members of rainbow trout populations arc notably diverse. Their variability in colour. spotting. body form and other characteristics led taxonomists to create a number of separate and distinct species.

The Ontario record is 40.7 lbs 

The steelhead rainbow can best be known by its migration to the sea. Because of this tendency, it was considered separate and distinct from the non-sea-going rainbow. But, all members of the rainbow series are more or less migratory. This tendency is strongest in those occupying coastal waters, and weakest in those isolated for generations from their sea-going relatives.

The body of the rainbow trout is typically trout-like, spindle-shaped and laterally compressed. The larger specimens are deep-bodied. There are teeth in the jaws. tongue and roof of mouth. Coloration of the body varies with environment. The fish may be bluish, bluish green. greenish or olive green on the back. silvery on the sides, and light below.

A pink lateral band of variable width runs from behind the eye to the end of the tail. This band is a more vivid red, or reddish purple. in mature fish, especially in breeding males; hence the name “rainbow”. The top of the head. dorsal. adipose, anal and caudal fins are profusely black-spotted. There are no red spots. Rainbows in the Great Lakes are quite silvery with inconspicuous spots. except on the tail fin: hence the name “steelhead”.

Rainbow Trout RangeDistribution
Rainbow trout are native in the Pacific ocean from smith Alaska to Mexico. Ascending coastal streams to spawn. Populations in the interior lakes ascend tributary streams. Subsequent to 1874, when McCloud River rainbows were first secured in California for fish cultural purposes. they were distributed in boreal waters of Europe. South Africa. Australia. New Zealand and eastern North America.

From 1880 to 1895. the only rainbow trout propagated and distributed in the east were raised from eggs collected from rainbows inhabiting the McCloud River, one of the headwater tributaries of the Sacramento River in California- These possessed smaller scales than the so-called coastwise rainbow trout. Later, difficulties in maintaining suitable stocks of McCloud River trout developed, and additional eggs were secured from Kiamatli River trout and. later. from Nevada and Colorado. Thus. the rainbows propagated in the east

Visits to tributary streams of larger lakes are not confined to the spawning migration. A run of this nature takes place in autumn when the autumn rains beg in. Rainbows appear to remain near river mouths during the winter to enter the streams with the first spring flood When two or three years old (six to eight inches in length), rainbows desert the stream and remain in the lake until mature.

Spawning :
At spawning time, rainbows migrate upstream, seeking swift waters and clean gravel. In Ontario, spawning takes place in the spring, usually in April and May. By selecting early spawners for breeding purposes at hatcheries, spawning may take place in water of constant temperature as early as December through January and February.

The rainbow trout is a popular fish because of its fighting ability. dash and beauty. There is none finer.  When hooked. it leaps out of the water and rushes and twists with dogged determination and amazing persistence.

It rises readily to the fly. Dry fly fishermen allow the fly to float downstream with the current. Slack of the line must be taken up to permit the angler to strike fast. Casting out where rainbows are feeding in the shallows of lakes is a pleasurable and rewarding pastime. Trout up to four or five pounds are readily taken on the fly. Larger ones are taken by minnows or by trolling.

Aquatic insects and their larvae are important in the diet of rainbow trout. Especially mayflies. caddis flies, black flies and stone flies. Leaf hoppers. grasshoppers. true bugs. alder flies and other invertebrates (leeches, crayfish and scuds) also make significant contributions to the diet. Minnows. suckers, yellow perch. herring and whitefish are important in the diet of large rainbows. Rainbow trout that spend a greater part of their time in lakes grow more rapidly and reach a larger size than those that remain permanently in streams. A similar difference in the growth of sea-run migrants as compared with non-sea-run migrants has been reported.



Ontario Fishing Magazine