Salmo gaidnerii

Preferred Habitat: The rainbow trout prefers clear, cold water (less than 68 F) of the highest quality. This habitat can exist in selected tailraces of deep impoundments or occasionally in the deeper waters of certain reservoirs. In their normal stream habitat, rainbow trout will locate in the faster moving waters such as the head of a pool area.

Range: Rainbow trout are found in the mountain streams.

Common Size: 8-12 inches, 4-14 ounces. Maximum size to 40 pounds.

Food Habits: Primarily insects, crawfish and other fish.

Spawning: Spawning occurs in February and March in the riffle areas of mountain streams. The females prepare nesting areas (redds) by fanning out a shallow depression several inches in depth. The eggs are laid, fertilized, covered with gravel and left unattended to incubate and hatch some 30 – 50 days later. Females are known to deposit eggs in several redds during the spawning process. Most trout populations in this state depend on hatchery production.

Miscellaneous: The rainbow trout is relatively sensitive to environmental degradation. Elevations in water temperature and siltation are the two biggest threats to the well being of rainbow trout. Man’s land use practice in mountain areas has accounted for most of the trout habitat lost in North Carolina. Improper road construction, leaving no timbered buffer zone, and clear-cutting removes the vegetation which shades and cools the streams. These activities also create soil erosion which works into the streams and smothers trout eggs before they can hatch. Siltation also decreases the number and diversity of food available to trout. In addition, many of North Carolina’s limited number of trout streams have been impounded by utility companies and private individuals.

Rainbow trout are not native to North Carolina, but they are the most intensively stocked of the trout.