Identification tips for trouts and salmons
- Length: 20 to 30 inches
- Weight: 2 to 8 pounds
- Coloring: steel-blue, blue-green, yellow-green to almost brown on back; silvery sides; silvery white below
- Common Names: steelhead trout, coast rainbow trout, silver trout
- Found in Lakes: Stocked in Michigan, Huron, Ontario, Erie, and Superior
These attractive game fish strike aggressively, fight valiantly and are an angler's joy. The first rainbow trout planted in the Great Lakes were probably "steelheads." This is a strain of rainbow trout that migrates into the ocean before returning to spawn in their freshwater home streams. Rainbows have adapted well, moving in and out of the Great Lakes much as they would the ocean. As might be expected, they range widely throughout Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Tagging has revealed that some migrate as far north as the Canadian tributaries of Lake Superior.
Rainbow trout seldom swim deeper than 35 feet along the Great Lakes shores and are easily located. In forage-rich Lake Michigan, they grow 30-32 inches long and may reach 16 pounds by the time they are five years old.
Rainbow trout reproduce naturally in Lake Superior's tributaries and in some Lake Michigan tributaries as well. Unlike Pacific salmon, the rainbow survives after spawning and may spawn two or three times during its life.
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copyright University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Brook Trout illustration copyright 1998 Gina Mikel
Rainbow trout photograph (c) Shedd Aquarium (e-mail)
Drawing from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Last updated 05 February 2002 by Seaman