Origins Of Golden Rainbow Trout & Where To Catch Them

By Charles •  11 min read

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Many anglers enjoy trying their luck on different species of fish. If you are one of these adventure seeking anglers, the golden rainbow trout is a unique species that should be on your bucket list. Not only are these fish fun to catch, but they are also considered very tasty by a lot of people. This article will give you a brief overview of the origins of this distinctive trout. More importantly, I will point you in the right direction to find where to catch golden rainbow trout.

Table of Contents

What Is A Golden Rainbow Trout?

The golden rainbow trout is just a color variation of a rainbow trout. These trout are almost completely sparkling yellow or a golden color. However, they do have the same distinctive red/pink strip that runs horizontally along their lateral line.

What Are The Origins Of The Golden Rainbow Trout?

Golden rainbow trout may just be the most unique trout an angler can catch. However, many anglers do not know that this fish is a genetically derived fish that was originally bred in West Virginia. The story of the golden rainbow trout begins in 1955 when a West Virginia DNR fisheries biologist observed a yellow-spotted fish swimming with rainbow trout at a hatchery in Petersburg.

Little Camouflage – The Original Golden Rainbow Trout

They named this female fish “Little Camouflage”, and it was removed and placed in a separate pond used to raise fish in the hatchery. Later that year, as the fish grew, the golden spots turned to a larger band of golden scales. The hatchery fertilized 900 eggs with milt from a normal colored rainbow trout male in October of 1956.

To the disappointment of the hatchery workers, as the fry continued to grow none of them seemed to be developing their mother’s coloration. This caused the hatchery to give up on their experiment and the fingerlings were added in with the rest of the fish in their rearing ponds at the Spring Run Hatchery.

Later that winter, workers noticed that several of the fish were turning colors. In the end, nearly 300 of the fish began turning a gold color. These fish were then separated from the rest of the rainbow trout and the West Virginia DNR Chief directed the hatcheries to begin experiments to produce a brilliant golden rainbow trout. Eventually, they were able to get to the point that over 90% of the eggs hatched produced fish containing the golden coloring.

Golden Rainbow Trout Are Introduced To The Public

The hatcheries continued their work developing these fish over the next few years breeding for color and to increase the size of the fish. Then, after some exploratory stockings in 1962, West Virginia DNR biologists determined that West Virginia’s centennial, in 1963, would be the right time to properly release golden rainbow trout by including it in normal rainbow trout stockings all over the state.

This release was performed at a ration of one golden rainbow trout to 10 normal hatchery rainbow trout. The DNR turned this release into a type of contest by tagging the fish with two different tags. One tag was yellow and for the angler to keep as a type of trophy and the other was orange. These tags could be turned in to DNR for a chance to win a special prize.

Origins of Golden Rainbow Trout In Other States

For a short time, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources did send some of the fertilized eggs to other states’ DNR hatcheries. These exports allowed theses states to begin their own breeding programs. However, now the West Virginia DNR as a strict policy against the export of any golden rainbow trout eggs.

What is the difference between Golden Rainbow Trout and Palomino Trout?

Many anglers may not be sure if they have caught a golden rainbow trout or a palomino trout. Knowing their differences can help you identify which one you catch the next time you are on the water. There are not many differences, but they are there and can quickly be learned by any angler.

What Are Palomino Trout?

I have already discussed the origin of the golden rainbow trout but this is a good time to briefly discuss the origin of the palomino trout. Palomino trout are a hybrid mix between golden rainbow and regular rainbow trout. Therefore, as you can see, these fish can be found in the same locations and can be easily mistaken for the other.

Physical Differences Between Golden Rainbow Trout and Palomino Trout

Golden rainbow trout has a golden-yellow body color, with pink lower fins, red or pink tones on their cheeks, with rainbow’s reddish side stripe. However, a palomino trout almost resembles an albino trout, and they are sometimes referred to as banana trout. This is due to the fact that they are almost completely pale yellow.

What is the difference between Golden Rainbow Trout and Golden Trout?

If you are new to trout fishing you may also be wondering if there is a difference between a golden rainbow trout and a golden trout. The answer is a most definite yes. While there is not any physical resemblance between the two fish the names are generally enough to confuse most new trout anglers.

The golden trout has an olive-green back, with golden color sides, which gives the fish its name. They have about ten upright, dark, egg-shaped markings on their body, and they have black spots on their tails. Their pelvic, pectoral, and anal fins contain an orange color with white tips at the end of their black lines.

They are closely related to rainbow trout, but they are actually a separate species. Golden trout are native to California, and they can also be found in parts of in Canada, Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington state.

Where To Catch Golden Rainbow Trout?

Today there are many states throughout the country that have golden rainbow trout stocking programs. This means that you could fish for them in any of these states as long as you know where they are being stocked. However, your best bet in finding these fish are the eastern states that are stocking them.

That being said, there are a few states that are considered to be the top destinations for fishing for these beautiful fish. The best option for you to find a great spot to fish for golden rainbows is to find out where they are being stocked. Head out to these locations and start fishing.

Where To Catch Golden Rainbow Trout – Top States

I have included a link for each state that will take you to that state’s Trout Release Schedule.  These schedules will let you know when and where they will be stocking golden rainbows in their states.

Tips To Help You Catch Golden Rainbow Trout

Fishing for golden rainbow trout has continued to become more and more popular in recent years. As a result, it has become a lot more difficult to catch golden rainbow trout. To help you out I have put together a few tips that should help you to land one of these beautiful fish.

Try To Fish Them As Soon As Possible After Stocking

Like any trout, these fish will learn very quickly and will soon become bait and lure shy. Not to mention the fact that their bright color makes them extremely easy to spot in the water. If you can, you should look at the stocking schedule and try to plan your trip for that day or very soon after. You will soon find that these locations will be crowded. However, fishing these uneducated fish will be you best chance of hooking one.

Fish Them Early In The Day

Many times, after these fish have rested overnight, they are more likely to bite. This is especially true in areas that get a lot of pressure. Get out early and your chances of landing one of these fish should be a little better.

Use Different Baits & Lures

Due to the intense amount of pressure these fish see they become bait shy pretty quick. Try some different baits and lures that these fish are not seeing every day. If at all possible, just keep trying different baits and lures until you find one that works. Some possibilities include minnows or worms coated in Pautzke’s Fire Dye or some Pautzke Fishing Bait Fire Balls.

However, if you are fishing the day of the hatchery release, anything that looks like a feed pellet may be a good choice.

golden rainbow trout golden rainbow trout

Final Thoughts – Golden Rainbow Trout

The golden rainbow trout is a beautiful fish that can be found in many waterways across the country. These fish are usually quite elusive, but with some practice and patience you should be able to catch one. We hope this article has helped you learn more about these amazing creatures and given you some tips on how to catch them. Get out there today and see if you can land yourself one!

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a golden rainbow trout?

They are a mutant variety of rainbow trout which are closely related to one another. Golden rainbow trout were found in 1955 when a DNR fishery biologist spotted a yellow-mottled fish swimming with rainbow trout near Petersburg.

Whats the difference between a golden rainbow trout and a Palomino?

The biggest difference between Palomino Trout and Golden Rainbow Trout is that the Palomino Trout’s colours are lighter than Golden Rainbow Trout.

Is a golden rainbow trout an albino?

No, a golden rainbow trout is not an albino. Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the eyes, skin, and hair. Golden rainbow trout are a type of trout that has a naturally yellow coloring.

Are palomino trout rare?

Many anglers consider Palomino trout to be rare. These species are found only in select areas throughout the US and are loved for fly fishing and traditional fishing.

What are yellow trout called?

Yellow trout are golden rainbow trout. They are considered by many to be one of North America’s finest fish and have attracted anglers for dozens of years. These species are also called Palominos and West Virginia gold trout and are known for their distinctive yellow colors which are very attractive to fishermen.

How do you catch golden rainbow trout?

Golden rainbow trout can be caught using the same methods as other rainbow trout. They are usually found in streams and rivers, but can also be found in some lakes.

What is the best bait for golden rainbow trout?

Baiting based on smell or flash works well. I also like Gold Garlic or Pink Shrimp Fireballs for the catch. And when they’re not biting them I use live Chartreuse fire dye minnow.

Is Palomino a trout albino?

Palomino trout are sometimes described as banana or lighter trout but are almost albino in color. The body is normally yellow to golden and lighter towards the base with a very pale yellow and white belly.

Is a golden rainbow trout the same as a Palomino?

Palomino trout and Golden Rainbow are the same species, just names for the same fish. Originally discovered during the 1950s in West Virginia it is a fish that has a bright yellow color.

Is a golden rainbow trout a rainbow?

Golden rainbow trout are just coloured variations of rainbow trout. These trout have almost entirely sparkling yellow colors. However, they have similar distinct red/pink stripes running in vertical directions across their lateral lines.

Is there a golden rainbow trout?

Golden Rainbow Trout have deep yellow bodies and have a pinkish upper fin, pink or red hued cheek bones and have the rainbow reddish lateral stripe.

What states have golden trout?

For sportsfishing Golden trout had a variety of twenty century translocations throughout Western states and a population exists in California, Montana, Washington, Colorado, and Wyoming as well. Population at the high-elevation lake in the Ruby Mountains of Nevada ceased in recent years.

How can I catch Palomino Trout?

There are a few ways to catch Palomino trout. Some people use artificial lures, while others use live bait. You can also catch them with a fly rod. The best time to catch them is in the early morning or late evening.

What Do Golden Rainbow Trout Eat?

Golden rainbow trout eat the same things as other rainbow trout. Their diet consists of small fish, insects, and crustaceans.

Are Golden Rainbow Trout Endangered?

No, golden rainbow trout are not endangered. They are a type of trout that is found in streams and rivers with a yellow coloring.

What Are The predators Of Golden Rainbow Trout?

The main predators are other fish, birds, and mammals. Humans also catch and eat golden rainbow trout.

Featured Photo by West Virginia Dept. of Commerce


Charles is a man who loves the outdoors. He moved to Wyoming specifically to spend more time in the mountains and wilderness. A hunter and fisherman, Charles knows how to enjoy nature and all that it has to offer. He is an outdoorsman through and through, and he wouldn't have it any other way. Charles is the President of Absaroka Enterprises, an company focuse on outdoor entertainment and endeavours. He's also an Editor for Alpha and Omega Outdoors, an online hunting, fishing, camping, trapping, and all around outdoors blog.

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