This colorful fish lives in over 100 streams and lakes across the state. Rainbow trout typically measure about 10 to 13 inches long, and have greenish silver back and silver sides, with a faint red band that travels the length of the lateral line. They also can be identified by the dark spots along the side and on the dorsal and tail fins.
Rainbow trout were transplanted from the West Coast in the late 1800s as recreational game fish by the Maryland Fisheries Commission and private citizens. In their place of origin, this distant relative of Pacific salmon spawn in the spring and rely heavily on melt water from surrounding snowy mountains to trigger spawning.
In Maryland, far from their natural habitat, the species usually spawns in the late winter or early spring. Naturally reproducing populations are found mainly in the mountainous western Maryland or in cold, spring-fed creeks.
Through Marylandís put-and-take program, over 300,000 adult rainbows are reared annually at state hatcheries to enhance recreational fishing. Another 200,000 fingerlings, or young trout, are stocked into waters that can support populations year-round.
Illustration of Rainbow Trout courtesy of Duane Raver, USFWS