I belong to several flyfishing sites and as I read the posts, I am astonished at how many folks who profess to be better than average fly slingers know so little about the different species of trout.
There are quite a few species and sub species of trout. But there is also a difference between native, stocked and wild trout.
The term “native” is too loosely attached to trout speciecs that do not deserve it. In order for a fish to be a native, it would have to originate in that particular body of water. So for any trout east of the Rockies, the term native does not apply except to the brook trout. Conversely, in the rocky mountain range and west to the coastal U.S., the only trout that can be called native accurately is the rainbow and the many subspecies thereof. Oddly enough, the rainbow is not actually a trout but a salmonoid and the brookie is from the char family. The only true trout is the salmo trutta or brown trout however, they originate in Germany and Scotland respectively.
So, how does one know if they have a stocker or wild trout?
Generally speaking, stocked trout raised in holding tanks lack the vivid color normally associated with the painted fish. This is due to their diet but also their environmnet. Wild and native fish live in wonderful realestate with natural food organisms.
If by chance a stocked trout can survive a full season of meat hunters and barbed hooks, it can become “wild” and begin to take on the characteristics of color and behavior.
Which leaves the term “wild” trout. As I mentioned above, trout that were stocked the season before that survive and bred, are now classed as wild trout…and their offspring are also classed as wild.
I hope that this little bit of info helps to clarify some of the misconceptions of trout classification. Follow me on my blog for more information in other areas of flyfishing.