Types of Trout: Complete List of Saltwater and Freshwater Species

types of trout

Trout are a diverse and fascinating group of fish that inhabit the waterways of North America. Found in a range of habitats, from remote mountain streams to powerful rushing rivers, these fish are sought after by anglers for their beauty, fighting spirit, and flavorful flesh. With several types of trout belonging to the subfamily Salmoninae, it’s essential to understand the distinctions between the various species.

Among the most common trout species are Brown Trout, Brook Trout, and Rainbow Trout. In addition to these popular varieties, the trout family includes a rich array of other members, such as Cutthroat, Golden, Lake, Dolly Varden, Bull, and Tiger Trout, among others. Each species possesses unique characteristics and preferred habitats, contributing to a rewarding and ever-changing angling experience for those in pursuit.

The world of trout offers a wealth of knowledge and discovery for avid anglers and naturalists alike. As one delves deeper into the topic, the nuances and complexities of this remarkable group of fish only become increasingly fascinating. By learning about and recognizing the various types of trout, enthusiasts can enhance their understanding and appreciation of these truly remarkable creatures.

Types of Trout

Trout are a diverse group of fish species that belong to the Salmonidae family. They can be found in various habitats, including freshwater and saltwater environments. In this section, we will explore the different types of trout found in freshwater and saltwater habitats.

Freshwater Trout

There are numerous freshwater trout species that can be found in rivers, lakes, and streams. Some of the most common species include:

  • Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): Typically growing between 20 and 30 inches (51-76 cm) in length and weighing up to 8 pounds (3.6 kg), rainbow trout can be identified by their pink side stripe and black spots on their dorsal fins and square tails.
  • Brown Trout (Salmo trutta): Brown trout are popular among anglers for their adaptability to various freshwater habitats and their elusiveness. They can be recognized by their brown coloration and extensive black and red spots on their sides.
  • Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis): Known for their vibrant colors, brook trout have a greenish or brownish background with worm-like markings and reddish spots surrounded by lighter halos. These trout inhabit cold, clear waters in streams and small lakes.

In addition to these common species, there are several unique and rare trout species found in specific regions, such as:

  • Gila Trout
  • Apache Trout
  • Cutthroat Trout (with 11 different subspecies)
  • Golden Trout

Saltwater Trout

While most trout species primarily inhabit freshwater environments, there are a few that can be found in saltwater habitats as well. These species are called anadromous trout because they travel from freshwater to saltwater during parts of their life cycle. Some examples of saltwater trout include:

  • Steelhead Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss): This variety of rainbow trout migrates from freshwater to the ocean and back during their life cycle. They are highly sought after by anglers for their size and fighting spirit.
  • Sea-run Brown Trout (Salmo trutta): These brown trout migrate to coastal waters and estuaries to feed on baitfish and crustaceans. They can grow considerably larger than their freshwater counterparts and provide a thrilling challenge for anglers.

Understanding the different types of trout and their habitats can help anglers target specific species and adapt their tactics accordingly. Whether fishing in freshwater or saltwater environments, a diverse array of trout species are waiting to be explored and enjoyed.

Habitats and Distribution

Trout species can be found in various habitats around the world, including rivers and streams, lakes, and coastal and oceanic regions. The distribution of trout depends on their specific habitat needs, which vary depending on the species. The following sub-sections will provide an overview of the habitats and distribution of various trout species.

River and Stream Trout

River and stream trout are commonly found in cool, fast-flowing freshwater systems. Some examples:

  • Salmo trutta: Brown trout can be found in rivers and streams across Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss: Rainbow trout are native to the Pacific coast of North America, but they have been introduced into other river systems globally.

These trout species favor clear, well-oxygenated water and tend to be more active in areas with faster currents, searching for aquatic insects, crustaceans, and small fish for their diet.

Lake Trout

Lake trout are cold-water fish that inhabit deep, cool lakes. Notable examples include:

  • Salvelinus namaycush: The lake trout is native to North America, found mainly in Canada and northern parts of the United States.
  • Salmo marmoratus: Marble trout are primarily found in the Adriatic basin of Slovenia and Italy.

In lakes, these trout species often feed on a variety of prey, including fish, insects, and crustaceans. They usually dwell in deeper waters during warmer months and migrate closer to the shoreline in the colder months.

Coastal and Oceanic Trout

Some trout species can also be found in coastal and oceanic environments. A prime example is:

  • Oncorhynchus mykiss: Steelhead trout are the anadromous form of rainbow trout. They live in the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn.

These coastal and oceanic trout species typically feed on a varied diet, including crustaceans, small fish, and other marine organisms. Despite their adaptations to live in saltwater environments, they still need to return to freshwater environments to reproduce.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Trout are known for their adaptability and diverse feeding habits. The diet of these fish varies according to their environment and the availability of food sources. In this section, we will discuss the main food groups that contribute to the nutrition of trout, divided into two sub-sections: Invertebrates and Insects, and Fish and Crustaceans.

Invertebrates and Insects

Insects play a major role in the diet of trout. They consume a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial insects, both in their larval and adult stages. Some common insect food sources include:

  • Mayflies: Trout often consume mature mayflies that are found near the water’s surface.
  • Dragonflies: Trout may also feed on dragonfly larvae and adults.
  • Ants: Terrestrial insects, like ants, can become a prey of trout when they fall into the water.

Apart from insects, trout also feed on other invertebrates such as worms, snails, and zooplankton. Their preference for invertebrates becomes evident from the early stages of their life and remains consistent throughout their lifespan.

Fish and Crustaceans

As trout grow older, their diet starts to shift from invertebrates to larger prey items such as fish and crustaceans. In this stage, trout become opportunistic piscivores, meaning that they consume smaller fish in addition to their diet of invertebrates. Some common fish that trout consume include juvenile fish of their own species and other smaller fish in their habitat.

Crustaceans such as shrimp, krill, and crayfish are also part of the diet of trout, especially for the anadromous form of the rainbow trout called the steelhead. Steelhead trout, which migrate to the ocean at the age of 1-3 years, feast on ocean-dwelling crustaceans in addition to small fish and squid. This varied diet enables trout to survive and thrive in diverse environmental conditions.

Reproduction and Life Cycle


Trout reproduction begins with spawning, which typically occurs between November and January when the water is cold and rich in oxygen. The female trout (hen) constructs a nest called a redd in river gravels. The size of the redd varies, with smaller trout creating smaller redds, and larger sea trout forming redds as large as a kitchen table top. The number of eggs laid depends on the size of the hen trout; a 500g trout usually deposits around 800 eggs.

Growth and Development

After being fertilized, the eggs develop and eventually hatch into larvae, also known as alevins. These alevins remain in the gravel, absorbing nutrients from their yolk sacs. Once the yolk sacs are depleted, the trout emerge from the gravel as fry and begin feeding on small aquatic insects.

As the trout fry continues to grow, they become juveniles, or parr. Parr is characterized by distinctive markings called parr marks, which serve as camouflage in the stream environment. This stage of growth can last from one to six years, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

Maturity and Migration

Upon reaching maturity, some trout species, such as rainbow trout, undergo a significant physiological change and migrate to larger bodies of water or the ocean. These ocean-migrating fish are aptly named steelhead trout. Other trout species, like the bull trout, may either remain in the same stream or move to larger bodies of water to overwinter and forage. The lifespan of a trout can vary greatly depending on the species and environmental factors, with some living only a few years, and others reaching over a decade in age.

Check out the pages below to access more information on different types of trout:

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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