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Rainbow Trout in Alberta (Oncorhynchus Mykiss)

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout Identification

  1. reddish stripe along their sides
  2. darker on top
  3. black spots

Rainbow Trout Description

Alberta Rainbow Trout are the most sought after Trout in Alberta, and have been the most widely stocked fish in Alberta for decades. The only true native Rainbow trout to the province of Alberta is the Athabasca Rainbow and is for the most part restricted to the waters of the North Saskatchewan River (NSR) and its tributaries, including a few other select rivers and streams to the north of the NSR. The Rainbows of the Bow River, which average 16 inches in length and often reach lengths of 22” or better, are not native but they are naturally reproducing and considered by most to be wild. These Rainbows are primarily of McCloud River strain and were originally stocked in the Bow River in the mid 1920’s. A train carrying the Trout stocks was on its way to Banff National Park with the intent of stocking some of the parks lakes with the fish when it experienced a set of unfortunate circumstances just outside of the parks boundaries and it derailed on the banks of the Bow. In order to prevent wasting the fish stocks they were initially introduced and transplanted into the Bow River. These Rainbow trout are commonly referred to as “Steelhead Stock” or “California steelhead” due to their origins. These trout stocks were wild, native fish from the McCloud River (a spring fed stream in the Sacramento River drainage of Northern California) and until 1944 when the Shasta Dam was constructed, were one of the most prolific steelhead populations of the Sacramento drainage. McCloud River Rainbows are also the most prolifically stocked Rainbow trout on the planet, being stocked in lakes, rivers and streams in almost 50 different countries worldwide.

Quick Facts About Rainbow Trout

  • Zones: ES1, ES2, ES3, ES4 | PP1, PP2 | NB1, NB2, NB3, NB4 | BNF, JSP, WTL
  • Diet: insects, leeches, other fish, fish eggs
  • Habitat: cold moving water, rivers, ponds, lakes
  • Breeding: spring, sometimes fall
  • Alberta Record: 20lb 4oz
  • Life Span: 7 years