Golden Trout fish identification, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
Golden Trout are the most elusive and difficult trout to catch, as they tend to be fickle about what they eat. The insects that come from these meadows; mayflies, gnats, mosquitoes, stoneflies, ants, beetles, spiders, dobsonflies, worms and larvae, are among the prey of the adult trout. Another sources of nutrients are vegetable detritus, Plankton, trout eggs, and other small fish. They are the most colorful and thrilling to pursue. The waters at the elevation where the trout are found are very cold and very clear with a high reflective rate. The Golden Trout's appearance has adapted to this environment. It has a yellow gold to olive green tint on its sides and belly. The fish also developed two very brilliant red stripes; one on its belly which runs from the last lower fin to the front of the gill, the other stripe is on the lateral line that typically begins at the seventh lateral spot which also runs to the gill.
The Golden Trout is a relative of the lost California native, the Sea Run Coastal Rainbow Trout. Tectonic movement combined with glaciations and volcanoes isolated the Kern Plateau and created a barrier for the Golden trout around 20,000 years ago. High outlet falls, hanging valleys and volcanic lava cut off created this high elevation plateau for the trout. Isolated, and no longer able to be a migrating sea run fish like it's soon to be ancestors, the Rainbow trout it was forced to adapt to its permanent high elevation habitat.
The Golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita), is a sub-species of the
Rainbow trout. The fish is also known as the California golden trout and is native to Golden Trout Creek, Volcano Creek and the South Fork Kern River. The Golden Trout is an endemic organism to the Kern Plateau, Tulare County, California. It is a long lost relative to another California native, the Sea Run Coastal Rainbow Trout. This particular species had a wide geographic range, from Alaska to Mexico which gave way to many high density population pockets deep into the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The golden trout has golden flanks with a red, horizontal band along the lateral line and 10 dark oval marks, parr marks, on each side, centered on lateral line. Dorsal, lateral and anal fins have white leading edges. In their native habitat, adults range from 6–12 in (15–30 cm) long. This is the only species of trout in which the parr marks on the side of the fish remain prominent throughout the life of the fish. It also has a red streak similar to the rainbow trout that runs along the side of the fish.
The golden trout was recognized as a variant species of trout because of its uniquely vibrant markings. The waters at the elevation where the trout are found are very cold and very clear with a high reflective rate. The Golden Trout in particular has adapted very well to this environment in terms of appearance. This trout adapted a yellow gold to olive green tint on its sides and belly. The fish also developed 2 very brilliant red stripes; one on its belly which runs from the last lower fin to the front of the gill, the other stripe is on the lateral line that typically begins at the seventh lateral spot which also runs to the gill. Orange color on pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins; pelvic and anal fins have black band followed by white-yellow tip. Dorsal fin with white to orange tip. These colors were adapted for both passive and aggressive reasons. The gold and red, when viewed from out of the water, make the trout virtually invisible in the shallow creeks of the high Sierras. Having this advantage makes it difficult for predators and prey alike to locate it.
The tail and dorsal fins have small, variable black spots with a black border with white tips. Golden Trout have more spots on their back and tail than your average Rainbow trout or
Brown Trout. Native trout of all species typically have 7 to 10 large black circles along their lateral. The more predominant the “spots,” the closer to native blood the individual trout is. Typically, the purest Golden Trout have the largest lateral spots and the brightest colors. Knowing this helps the observer decipher between a native and nursery or hybridized trout. Due to the sensitivity and susceptibility of this particular species of trout the number and brilliance of spots and colors depend greatly on its environmental factors.
The golden trout is a slow grower with the average length of 5 to 7 inches. Golden Trout of 10 inches are rare. Its body’s depth is 3.5 inches with noticeably small scales. A typical adult golden trout will be up to 14 inches in length, and weigh about 1 lb in streams and up to 24 to 28 inches in lengthup and 11 lbs in lakes. The golden trout lives an average of 7 years in streams and up to 12 years in a lake.
Golden trout are naturally found in clear, cool waters with a temperature of 58-62°F at elevations higher the 6000 ft. Although they are being introduced to lower elevations and can now withstand temperatures of 72°F. However at these lower elevations and warmer temperatures they do not maintain their brilliant colors.
Freezing crystal clear waters, short production seasons, very shallow streams, and scarce food are among the new obstacles for the species survival. Trout are a eurytropic species. Though not quite a cosmopolitan distribution, the trout species have disjunct and continuous distributions (dependent on subspecies) in most of the world’s biomes. These distributions are in the mid to high latitudes of the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This particular sub-species of trout found in mid- latitude Southern California has become one of the world’s most coveted neoendemic species. This is because of the vibrant colors it has adapted in isolation. The trout distribution has the highest natural concentrations on the Pacific Coast because of the origin of the species.
Native habitat for golden trout is primarily found at high elevations in meandering streams with little riparian vegetation. The water is generally clear and cold 38-72°F (3-22°C) and substrates are composed of cobble, gravel, and sand. Favorable reaches include pools that provide cover in the forms of undercut banks and aquatic vegetation. Individual golden trout tend to remain in a small stretch of stream measuring 16-18 m. Fish transplants have brought golden trout to lakes and streams they did not previously inhabit. Generally these new waters are at high elevations and may include stretches of stream above impassible fish barriers. Golden trout feed both day and night on a wide variety of items, especially aquatic insects. Cryptic coloration or a lack of predators may account for their feeding habits. Despite increased vulnerability to birds and mammals males develop especially bright colors during the breeding season.
Adult trout feed on insects that come from these meadows; mayflies, gnats, mosquitoes, stoneflies, ants, beetles, spiders, dobsonflies, worms and larvae. Although vegetable detritus, Plankton, trout eggs, and other small fish are sources of nutrients. The portion of plankton and vegetable detritus in the trout’s diet increases together with increases the temperature and with the changing seasons. These types of foods have the greatest impact on the growth of the trout. Golden Trout are the least productive of the trout family. Long winters and high elevation are the reason for this low productivity and lack of availability of food. Stream production, riparian production, and trout growth all come to a halt with the onset of fall.
Golden trout reach maturity in 3-4 years and spawn in late spring or early summer when water temperatures range from 50 to 59°F (10 to 15°C). Spawning peaks in the afternoon when water temperatures reach their daily maximum. Females dig wide shallow redds among small gravel particles and lay from 300 to 2,300 eggs. The eggs hatch in approximately 20 days at 57°F (14°C). Emergent fry remain in the substrate for 2-3 weeks before rising into the main water.
As the water warms, the phytoplankton and larva growth excels and the trout begin seeking out redds or nests. Spawning begins slowly for the Golden Trout, the water must reach at least 50°F (10°C), around the end of April and the beginning of May. Peak spawning is apparent when the water temperatures reach 61 to 65°F (16 – 18°C) in June and July. But, temperature is the independent variable for spawning. The dependent variables are the choice of redds, substrate size and water velocity.
The Golden Trout choose the finest substrate of the Trout, the banks and beaches with fine substrate, the sand and gravel that have a much longer time period to breakdown. Golden trout also choose for spawning the slowest moving waters of the trout family, shallow and slow, even during melt season. As the snow melts reach peak production, the habitat floods as opposed to rapids. If winter is prolonged, the trout spawning season will be delayed into the hottest months of summer. Rapid evaporation in these months means the late spawning trout lose all of their eggs and are not be able to contribute to the gene pull. This can pose a problem for population. Redds can have few to many trout spawning in the same area. After the trout find their place for redds they thrash there tails to make small nests. There they lay many eggs on and under the substrate.
Fishing for Golden trout is as easy or hard as fishing for Rainbow trout – with one difference, you may be able to see them a lot easier. That doesn’t mean they’re easier to catch though. In the spring the best bait is orange Salmon eggs.
4 foot ultra-light rod with an ultra-light spinning reel and 4 lb test. Goldens are found usually in the head or tail of a pool or in the rapids. Cast your line upstream of where Goldens might be. Here’s the parts that will differ from any other instructions you may encounter:
Hold your rod tip up high.
Hold the line in the crook of your index finger – you need to be able to detect the slightest “tick” from your line. No matter how big the fish is, they only give you a “tick”!
It takes a while but you’ll soon be able to detect the “tick”.
When you feel the bite, lift your rod up high and you’ve probably hooked Golden Trout.
The rest of the year a half of a nightcrawler did the trick. If use a nightcrawler, you have to let them chew on it a little longer or you’ll pull it out of their mouth.