• Family: Salmonidae (Trout, Salmon, Char, and Whitefish)
• Other Names: Steelhead
• Ohio Status: Sport fish and introduced
• Adult Size: Typically 20-23 inches, can reach 36 inches. Usually weigh 2-8 pounds, can reach 19 pounds.
• Typical Foods: Small fish and aquatic insects.
Rainbow trout have the typical trout-shape with an adipose fin, and a squarish tail that has black spots throughout. The rainbow trout has 10-12 anal rays and a white mouth and gums (coho and Chinook salmon, occasionally found in Lake Erie, have gray or black gums, more anal rays, and forked tails). Lake Erie rainbow trout or steelhead are generally bright silver with a bright pink band. Males develop a hooked jaw known as a "kype" during the spawning season.
Habitat and Habits
Rainbow trout prefer cold water streams with cobble, boulders, deep pools, and overhead cover.
Reproduction and Care of the Young
Rainbow trout are a cold water species that in nature spawn in moving water over gravel or cobble substrate. In Ohio, there is little or no natural reproduction, so the Ohio Division of Wildlife raises and stocks rainbow (steelhead) trout in Lake Erie tributaries. The young trout live in these streams for one or two years before migrating out to Lake Erie. They remain in the lake for several years before they return to the tributaries to run upstream and attempt to spawn.