Trout Hybrids

Posted on in Todd Talks by Mak Gleckner

If you are not a fisherman/woman, you might not realize how many different species of trout there actually are. With all these trout comes the potential for mutations, plus interbreeding between species, which sometimes produces new species. These new species are often highly sought after by anglers, and they also are generally harder to catch because of this. Most of the time, they are less common than “regular” trout species. No matter the species, trout always make for an exciting challenge for anglers everywhere.

The Cutbow Trout is a hybridization between a Cutthroat Trout and a Rainbow Trout. It is one of the more commonly found trout hybridizations because of the large overlap in the spawning season of the trout. The Cutbow is produced when a male Rainbow Trout fertilizes the eggs of a female Cutthroat Trout. Unlike many hybrid species, the Cutbow is fertile, and because of this, it is easy for them to take over trout streams that predominantly held Rainbow or Cutthroat Trout. Normally, Cutbows look somewhat like a Rainbow Trout but also have the orangish-red streaks below the gills that give the Cutthroat Trout their name. However, after many generations of Cutbows reproducing among themselves, it is not uncommon for the features of the Cutthroat to fade away.

Tiger Trout are one of the most beautiful species of fish, in my opinion. They get their name from their tiger-like appearance, with a bright orange belly and stripe-like “vermiculation” (marbling pattern) on the top and sides. They rarely occur naturally because of the low success rate in the fertilization process as well as a small overlap in the spawning seasons of the two species from which they come. When a male Brook Trout fertilizes the eggs of a female Brown Trout, a Tiger Trout has a chance of being produced. Tiger Trout are sterile, so that is another reason they are so uncommon. Very few people have caught a wild Tiger Trout because of how rare they are, but some fish hatcheries have developed a process that allows for a higher success rate in producing them. These artificially produced Tiger Trout are stocked in lakes and streams in many places, allowing them to be caught by more people.

Golden Rainbow Trout, also known as Palomino Trout, are one of my favorite fish to pursue. They have a bright yellow-orange body, hence the name “Golden” Rainbow Trout. They have a pinkish-red stripe down the middle, and some of the red color often shows up on the fins and gill plate. Even their eyes are yellow. These trout stand out in a stream because of their bright color, and people often will fish directly for them because of this. These trout are not usually found naturally; they are stocked by fish hatcheries where they are produced. The Golden Rainbow Trout originated from a mutation in a Rainbow Trout, causing it to be a dull yellow color. This happened in 1955 at a fish hatchery in West Virginia, and after many years of selectively breeding this trout and its descendants, it produced a unique species of its own, the Golden Rainbow Trout. This species is fertile, so they technically could reproduce in the wild. The reason that they are not usually found in the wild is because their bright color gives them away, so they are either caught by anglers or eaten by a predator, such as an eagle or otter. A few Golden Rainbow Trout are stocked by hatcheries every year in several states, which makes for a fun incentive to go trout fishing. However, they are very difficult to catch, since not very many are stocked and so many people target them, myself included.