McCloud River Rainbow Trout

Piscifun fly fishing reels

McCloud River Rainbow TroutSalmo shasta (Jordan)

The average growth of the rainbow trout under favourable artificial circumstances is as follows: One year old, from 3/4 to 1 ounce; 2 years old from 8 to 10 ounces; 3 years old from 1 to 2 pounds; 4 years old from 2 to 3 pounds. Like all other fishes they continue to grow, at least until they are 8 or 10 years old the rate diminishing with age. Some, of course, grow much faster than others even under the same circumstances, but the rate of growth as with all fishes is largely a question of temperature, food, and extent of water-area. In water at 60 degrees, with plenty of food, fish 1 or 2 years old will double their size several times in a single season ; while in water at 40 degrees, with limited food the growth is very slow indeed.

The rainbow, like the brook trout, will live in water with a comparatively high temperature if it is plentiful and running with a strong current; but in sluggish water, even when the temperature is considerably lower, neither species will do well. The rainbow, however, will live in warmer water than the brook trout, and is often found in streams where the temperature is as high as 75 degrees or even 85 especially where there is some shade. The water of the streams in which the rainbow is native, varies in temperature from 38 deg in winter to about 70 deg in summer. For hatchery purposes spring water, with a temperature from 42 deg to 58 deg is best.

The spawning season of the rainbow trout in California ex tends from early February to May. A curious change in the season has occurred with those cultivated in the East. In Colorado the season is from May to July, while at Wytheville it extends from early in November to the end of February.

The males are good breeders at 2 years old, but the females rarely produce eggs until the third season. The number of eggs produced depends upon the age and size of the fish. The maximum from 3-year-old fish weighing 1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds is 500 to 800 eggs; from 6-year-old fish, weighing 2 to 4 pounds, it is 2,500 to 3,000 eggs. The eggs vary in size from 4 1/2 to 5 eggs to the linear inch the larger fish usually producing the larger eggs.

All that has been said regarding the game qualities of the typical rainbow trout (Salmo irideus) can be said of the rainbow trout of McCloud River. It may lack a little in the wild gameness of typical irideus but that is made good by its larger size. There is, however, no comparison between the rainbow in its native California mountain streams and those introduced into eastern raters, where the warmer temperature has enervated them, and where they have grown large and fat and sluggish. In the cold waters of Colorado however, they have lost none of their wild nature and superb game qualities.

Head 4; depth 3 4/5; eye 5; D. 11; A. 11; scales 20 to 24-145- 20, about 65 before the dorsal. Body comparatively short and deep, compressed, varying considerably, and much more elongate in males than in females; head short convex, obtusely ridged above; mouth smaller than in most species Of trout the rather broad maxillary scarcely reaching beyond the eye, except in old males; eye larger than in the steelhead; vomerine teeth in 2 irreg- ular series; dorsal fin moderate ; caudal fin distinctly though not strongly forked, more deeply incised than in the typical cut-throat. Colour, bluish above, the sides silvery; everywhere above profusely but irregularly spotted, the spots extending on the sides at least to the lateral line, and covering the vertical fins; top of head well spotted; fins usually not red; almost always a light dash of red on throat; much red or rosy on cheek and opercles; belly partly red in males; side with a broad but more or less interrupted red lateral band, brightest in males.


From American Game and Food Fishes. Jordan and Evermann, 1902.