ason Mattick holds a Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Truckee River. Photo: Jim Litchfield, Reno Fly Shop.

Jason Mattick holds a Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Truckee River. Photo: Jim Litchfield, Reno Fly Shop.

Rainbow trout
Oncorhynchus mykiss
  • Not native to the Truckee River.
  • Bluish-gray to olive green on the back, silvery or white on sides and belly.
  • Reddish horizontal stripe on sides.
  • Black spots on back, sides and head.

Record Observations
Species Description:

Rainbow trout are native to Pacific coastal streams of North America, but have been introduced to the Truckee River and other cool-temperature rivers, lakes and streams across the country and around the world (Sigler & Sigler 1987; Moyle 2002;).  They are adaptable and may evolve into different strains when populations become isolated (Moyle 2002).  Young trout feed mostly on invertebrates like insects and crustaceans.  As adults, they feed on smaller fish and insects drifting at the water surface, which is where they encounter fly-fishermen.  In the wild, the typical maximum age is about 5 years (Sigler & Sigler 1987).  Predators include birds such as Kingfishers, Mergansers and Herons (Moyle 2002).

Rainbow trout sometimes interbreed with Lahontan cutthroat trout (Rivers 1994).  The offspring are called “cutbows”.  I am not sure whether this is common in the Truckee River.  If you know the answer to this question, please comment below!

Photos & Information needed!

Do you have an original photograph of a Rainbow trout from the Truckee?  If so, please contribute photos and observations here!



Moyle, P. B. (2002). Inland fishes of California. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Rivers, I. L. (1994). Fishes and fisheries of Nevada. Reno: University of Nevada Press.

Sigler, W. F., & Sigler, J. W. (1987). Fishes of the Great Basin: A natural history. Reno: University of Nevada Press.


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  1. Don’t know if you are still interested in comments, but it looks to me like you have a fine example of a cutbow in the picture of the “rainbow trout.” The key to that conclusion is the lack of fine black spots; the fish in the photo has the sparse, larger black spots near the tail like a Lahontan cutthroat, but the bright pink gill covers and lateral red stripe of a rainbow. I live in Colorado now, but grew up in Reno and spent my summer evenings fishing on the Truckee near the Nevada/California state line. Caught and released what I took to be cutbows regularly…always brilliantly colored (like cutthroats during and just after spawning season). The real key was looking for the red slashes on undersides of the lower jaw. Cutbows have them; rainbows do not. Can’t see that clearly in your photo, but I bet that fish had them. While I saw a few rainbows in the Truckee that were not heavily spotted, the fish that I suspected to be cutbows all had the jaw slashes. Most of the rainbows, of course, were heavily spotted with fine black spots from head to tail.

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