Trout Family
Atlantic Mackerel [family Salmonidae Genus Salmo (Atlantic), Oncorhynchus (Pacific)]

Only Salmo and Oncorhynchus are offically trout, but a number of related fish are called "trout" (see below).

Among Oncorhynchus are Pacific Salmon, Apache trout (Arizona), Cutthroat trout (western North America), Gila trout (Arizona, New Mexico), Rainbow trout / Steelhead (western North America, northeast Asia and introduced everywhere).

Among Salmo are Atlantic Salmon, Adriatic trout, Brown trout (Europe and Asia), Marble Trout (southeastern Europe), Ohrid trout (Macedonia, Albania), Sevan trout (Armenia (native) and Kyrgyzstan (introduced)).

Other fish popularly called trout are:


Rainbow Trout - [Oncorhynchs mykiss]
Fresh Fish

Rainbow / Steelhead was reclassified from Salmo to Oncorhynchs in 1989, so it is now officially a Pacific Trout and considered identical with the Russian trout of the same name. Rainbows are native to the west coast of North America from the Mexican border north and around across the Aleutian Islands to Russia, and as far south as northern Japan. Rainbow trout are now farmed worldwide because the supply of native trout is totally insufficient to meet demand.

Rainbows are generally between 12 and 18 inches long unless they go to sea and become steelheads. Their bright rainbow colors fade quickly upon death so are not evident in the fish markets. The farm raised rainbow in the photo was 18-1/2 inches long and weighed 2 pounds 5-1/4 ounces factory cleaned, rather larger than average market size. It's flesh was a bright salmon color indicating it was fed a diet including the dye fed to farmed salmon.   Details and Cooking.

Steelhead - [Baby Salmon (marketing); Oncorhynchs mykiss]
Fresh Fish
Some rainbow trout stay in the lakes and rivers and are rainbows their entire lives. Others, even from the same batch of eggs, are rainbows for only for only one or two years, then lose their rainbow coloring and head out to sea to become Steelhead. A year or more later they return to the river of their birth to spawn, regaining their rainbow color. After spawning they turn silver gray again and head back to sea.

Nobody knows why some rainbows join the Navy and others stay at home, but those that do go to sea grow larger, live nearly twice as long (to 11 years) and spawn over twice as many times (to 8 times). Steelhead can exceed 40 inches and 50 pounds but most are nearer 24 inches and 8 to 11 pounds. They are considered threatened by habitat destruction.   Details and Cooking.

Golden Trout
Fresh Fish This is a color variant of the Rainbow Trout developed by the fish farms and is not to be confused with the real Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita), the California State Fish, which is found only in the Kern River drainage area of California.   Details and Cooking.

Brook Trout - [Salvelinus fontinalis]
Live Fish Actually a Char, not a Trout, but it's included here because it's what everyone east of the Mississippi calls a "Trout". Brook Trout live along most of the east coast of Canada and down to Georgia in the United States, including the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River drainage basin. They can grow to 34 inches and 20 pounds but are more commonly around 10 inches. Brook trout are now being farmed to some extent, and sold fresh, frozen and smoked. They are also raised in hatcheries for restocking streams and lakes, and have been introduced to other parts of the world. They are environmentally sensitive so are much used for envronmental research.   Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service = public domain.   Details and Cooking.

Smoked Trout
Whole Smoked Fish Trout is a very oily fish so is suitable for smoking. Smoked trout can be eaten skin-on, unlike smoked Whitefish (heavy scales) or smoked Mackerel (tough skin). The hot smoked photo specimen was 14-1/4 inches long and weighted 1 pound 3-3/8 ounces. Rainbow Trout, salt, brown sugar, natural wood smoke.

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