Rainbow Trout Fishing in Canada

The Rainbow Trout is a trout and species of salmonid native to cold-water tributaries of the Pacific Ocean in Asia and North America. This is a fish that prefers cold freshwater but a percentage of them will migrate to saltwater and, once there, are known as Steelhead Trout. They are a sought after fish for sports fishing but especially for consumption due to their meats soft, white texture, mild taste, and high level of Omega-3 fatty acids. An average Rainbow Trout is around 40 cm (16 in) and weighs between 1-3.5 kg (2-8 lb). As of writing, the record rainbow trout caught in Canada weighed in at 21 kg (48lb) and was caught in Saskatchewan in 2009.

Beautiful Rainbow Trout caught with Bow River Hookers in Alberta, Canada
Beautiful Rainbow Trout caught with Bow River Hookers - Bow River, Alberta, Canada

Where to Find Rainbow Trout

The rainbow trout is native to lakes and rivers in North America west of the Rocky Mountains. However, it has been introduced to bodies of water all over the world because of its popularity as a sports fish. This is true for Canada too…in fact, the only area of the world that does not have an active Rainbow Trout population is Antarctica.

Understanding Rainbow Trout Behavior

Rainbow trout are carnivores that won't eat any vegetation found growing in the water. Rather, they prefer to feast on insects, small fish, crayfish, leeches and mussels. However, though they do not eat the vegetation, Rainbow Trout do use said vegetation for shelter and to assist them in catching their prey. Rainbow Trout feed most feverishly after the ice melt when they break free of the ice ceiling they have endured for months of the frigid winter and actively seek out food.

The fact that they are hungriest after the ice melt means the best time to fish for Rainbow Trout is early season. They will be actively searching for food after months of inactivity under the freezing ice-covered water. At this time of year, rainbows give serious chase to attractor flies and lures, making them a good opening-day fish option.

How to Fish for Rainbow Trout

Look in shallow water or shoal areas at depths of ten feet or less. That is where aquatic invertebrates become active following the ice melt and emerge soon after the first few warm days, triggering the trout to start feeding. In fast-moving water, use Mepps and Roostertail spinners and Crocodile spoons. Use bright, large lures in murkier water and copper or silvery smaller spinners in clear water. Vary the retrieve until you find the right speed to entice a strike.

When fishing Canadian lakes for rainbows, try flies such as chironomid pupa and larva imitations, as well as leech patterns. Weighted lines and good strong leaders are often needed to get the fly down to where the trout are hanging out. For spin fishers, the best lake lures include Flatfish, Quickfish, Dick Nite spoons and Mepps spinners.

Depending on what's allowed in the region being fished, roe and worms can also be very effective. Be sure to check to local/provincial websites for the specific conservation guidelines and regulations.

Fishing Tips for Rainbow Trout in Ponds

Difference between Rainbow Trout and Steelhead