California's State Fish

Male Golden Trout

World Record - 11 pounds

Golden Trout Taxonomy

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Actinopterygii

Order: Salmoniformes

Family: Salmonidae

Genus: Oncorhynchus

Species: Oncorhynchus Mykiss

Sub-species: Oncorhynchus Mykiss Aguabonita

The Golden Trout is not an award given to anglers. It is a fish, a whole fish, and nothing but a fish, so help me ---!

Where to find them and their Life Cycle

This fish is native to only a very few spots in the world. Readily found in higher elevations of more than 10,000 feet above sea level, California's Golden Trout Creek (wonder where the name came from?) is the primary home, with the Volcano Creek and South Fork Kern River running close behind. They seem to like water that is a little warmer (around 60 degrees) than other freshwater trout.

This is the state fish of California and has been since 1947. It is on the brink of becoming endangered and has been introduced to streams in Nevada, New Mexico, and Arizona to try and save the species and widen it's range. These efforts have been successful and are actually continuing as we speak.

This fish is characterized by it's golden colored flanks and darker colored upper body. There is a definitive red stripe dividing the two colors. The telling point is the dark oval spots, called "parr marks" along each side. Because of the distinct color contrasts involved, there is usually a "rainbow" effect in the middle of the side of the Golden Trout. Very beautiful and very misleading to many an angler.

In native streams, adult goldens have an average length of about 8 to 12 inches and weigh under 8 pounds. Any that are over 10 inches long are considered a prize catch. Those that have been transplanted to lakes get somewhat larger. The world record was reeled in around 1948 in Cook Lake. That fish was 28 inches long and weighed in at 11 pounds.

Golden Trout

What they eat and when

Golden trout eat the same things that other trout eat. All the same insects, scuds, small crustaceans, and terrestrials fall victim to these fish at any opportunity. The problem is that they are beaten out for food by brook trout and preyed on by brown trout so their numbers are dwindling.

SPECIAL NOTE: This is mainly why they are a threatened species. In addition, rainbows find them attractive and interbreed with them, slowly wiping them out of existence. Ahh…beauty is such a curse.

How we eat them and how to cook 'em

Just about any trout recipe will work with these maritime morsels of "MMMness". The larger ones can be pan fried, smoked, baked, poached or broiled. Smaller fish can be cleaned like smelt, battered, and fried in hot oil for a treat that is unsurpassed in the fish culinary world.

School of Golden Trout

Other species like this one and the differences

The Golden Trout is an offshoot of the rainbow trout, as the redband on the sides will show. Sometimes there are spots on the tail and along the back like spotted trout, and there is usually a red underbelly that begins at the lower jaw, like a cutthroat. The difference is that these fish (Golden Trout) have the tell-take oval spots along the sides that nobody else has. This makes them "special", even by fish standards. Look for the spots, and you will NEVER mistake this for another fish.

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