Rainbow Trout - Oncorhynchus mykiss


fish: rainbow trout
Duane Raver/USFWS
Click on picture to enlarge

Description - Oklahoma's two trout species can be easily identified.  First look at the side of the fish.  A brown trout will have orange and red spots, but a rainbow trout will be iridescent.  The brown trout will have few or no black spots on its tail and a creamy belly.  In comparison, the rainbow trout will have black spots on its tail and a white belly.  (Click on picture to enlarge)

The rainbow trout is one of the most colorful sport fish in Oklahoma. Although originally a cold-water fish from the pacific drainage of the Rocky Mountains, rainbow trout do well in Oklahoma where water temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen are within their tolerance levels.

The key to putting rainbows on the stringer is light tackle. An ultra-light rod and reel spooled with six-pound or lighter line will produce more strikes and provide exciting action. Like all trout, rainbows have definite feeding periods which may begin and end suddenly. There are days, though, when it seems they feed for hours. However, early morning and late afternoon are favored times and most trout are caught during these periods. On streams, larger fish are likely to be found in deep pools while smaller rainbows feed in shallow riffles. Trout face upstream to wait for mayflies, caddis flies, stoneflies, dobsonflies and dragonflies to appear above them. When heavy insect hatches are on, you may see evidence of feeding trout by circular rings or riseforms on the water’s surface.

If you don’t detect riseforms, you may want to switch to wetflies or nymphs. Feeding habits dictate what works and what doesn’t and there are times and places when only flashing spoons, marabou jigs or spinners work. Bait anglers can tempt rainbows by using whole-kernel corn, cheese, salmon eggs and worms on small (sizes 10 to 18) single or treble hooks.

Those preferring the challenge of artificial lures will find small spinners, spoons and marabou jigs are most productive. Using artificial flies is an effective way to catch hungry trout on a fly rod.