Although there are many trout a fly fisher might pursue, the wild rainbow trout remains one of the most popular, and for good reason.Wild rainbow trout typically inhabit cold, clear streams in some of the most beautiful locations around the world. Not only are these wild trout challenging to catch, but when hooked they put up quite a fight. Add to this, the beautiful coloring of a wild rainbow trout, and you’ve got quite a sport fish.
With a natural range originally in the Rocky Mountains and west to the Pacific Ocean, the rainbow trout has increased its distribution thanks to human kind. Streams and rivers in the eastern United States now have rainbow trout, as well as a few southern states. In fact, rainbow trout from California were brought to New Zealand in egg-form and now naturally reproduce in the beautiful rivers of New Zealand.
Rainbow trout are important for the environment, as they act as an “indicator species.” To thrive, they require cold, clean water. When historical populations of rainbow trout begin to suffer, it’s typically a sign that the water they live in needs our attention. By saving rainbow trout populations by protecting their environment, we’re actually protecting ourselves by keeping our watersheds more healthy.
Although catch and release aids in preserving limited wild trout populations, there are places in the western states where rainbow trout thrive. It’s in these environments that it’s perfectly fine to keep a wild rainbow trout for a meal. Its moist white meat is great for breakfast, lunch or even dinner. It’s even better when cooked on an open campfire high in the mountains.
Rainbow trout can be caught many in ways. Bait, lure and trolling all work. However, in the clearest of streams, where the fish are most shy, fly fishing is the best approach. Using fly fishing gear, an angler can land the lure (called a fly) just like a feather and the trout is none the wiser. Catching a wild rainbow trout on a dry fly should be on everyone’s list.
Whether on a tiny mountain creek or on a larger valley river, chasing wild rainbow trout while fly fishing can be a worthwhile pursuit, creating experiences and memories that last a lifetime. Fly fishing gives you the excuse to find yourself in beautiful places with a reason to be there. If you’ve ever wanted to fly fish for rainbow trout, we at Leland are here to get you started correctly.