Freshwater and Anadromous Trout of North America
This page has information on several species of freshwater and anadromous trout that live in North America.
Trout are members of a family that includes salmon and char. Some members of this group of fish live their entire lives in freshwater.
Others are anadromous; they spend all or part of their adult life in salt water and return to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn.
Well known freshwater trout include rainbow, golden, brook, lake, brown, cutthroat, dolly varden, bull and others.
Freshwater trout are usually associated with the sport of fly fishing, but are also caught by other methods.
Where Do Freshwater Trout Live?
Members of the trout and char family are in found in cool streams and lakes of North America. Most species cannot tolerate high water temperatures, murky waters, silt or pollutants.
Some trout tend to reside in small streams all their lives while others move into larger bodies of water as they mature, returning to their home stream to spawn.
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What Does Anadromous Mean?
Anadromous fish start life as tiny fry in freshwater streams or creeks. As they grow, they migrate out to sea where they mature. The cycle repeats itself as adult anadromous fish return to freshwater to spawn.
Rainbow trout are an excellent example of fish that sometimes adopt an anadromous lifestyle. The species occurs in both freshwater and saltwater.
Sea run rainbow trout are called steelhead. They return to their original hatching ground to spawn.
Other species of trout and char such as brown trout, cutthroat, brook trout and Arctic char occasionally become anadromous.
What is Whirling Disease?
Whirling disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that was introduced to the United States from Europe in the 1950s. In Wyoming it affects trout and is spread through movement of infested fish and water or through mud that may contain the parasitic spores.
It affects the cartilage tissue of salmonids, and symptoms of infected fish may include a blackened tail and deformity which may cause the fish to swim in a whirling manner. It ultimately results in death of the fish.
Whirling disease occurs in 23 American states. Anglers can help prevent its spread by thoroughly cleaning waders and recreational gear. To learn more, visit your state department of fish and game.