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Fishes of North Dakota

Trout Family


Trout Family

In North Dakota, the trout family are all introduced fishes. They are beautiful fish, sporty to catch, and fine eating. They are fine scaled, often spawn in the fall, and are native to oceans and cold waters of rivers and lakes. North Dakota conditions offer little chance for most trout family members to spawn and reproduce successfully without the aid of a fish hatchery.


Rainbow Trout

The rainbow from the Pacific Coast has been widely stocked in North Dakota and has been the most successful. It varies in coloring but usually has pinkish streaks on its sides and small black spots on its sides, fins, and tail. The rainbow has 9-12 rays in its anal fin. Steelhead trout are a variety of rainbow that spend time living in the salt water of an ocean. Other rainbows are named according to where they originate, such as Kamloops trout or by a descriptive term such as red band trout. Cutthroat trout are closely related to rainbows but can be recognized by a red cutthroat slash on each side of the lower jaw. Rainbows are found in a variety of coloration due to where they originate, where they are stocked, the time of the year, and if they have crossed with other trouts.
JPG -- Picture of a Rainbow Trout.


JPG -- Picture of a Brown Trout.

Brown Trout

The brown or German trout is native to Europe and should be able to survive under warmer water conditions than the rainbow. It is found in the Missouri River system and a few lakes where it is regularly stocked. Like the rainbow, it has 9-12 rays in the anal fin. It has spots that are much larger and more colorful than those of the rainbow. The spots on the brown trout may be black, brown, orange, or red and are surrounded with a light colored halo. On large browns, the spots may be irregular shaped or even x-shaped. The brown usually does not have spots on its tail.


Chinook Salmon

Chinooks, also called king salmon, are stocked into the Missouri River system and have been providing thrills for salmon enthusiasts. The inside of the lower jaw of a chinook is blackish in color while in rainbows and browns it is white. They are spotted similar to a rainbow. Chinooks have a long anal fin that contains 15-17 rays. In the late fall when they reach spawning condition they darken in color and gradually deteriorate and die after spawning. Chinooks thus vary from silvery to black in color. North Dakota conditions prevent chinooks from reproducing successfully. They are the largest trout found in North Dakota.
JPG -- Picture of a Chinook Salmon.


JPG -- Picture of a Lake Trout.

Lake Trout

Lake trout, or mackinaw, have been stocked into the Missouri River system where it is expected they can reproduce successfully. Lake trout have a deeply forked tail and light markings on their silver-gray body. Lake trout prefer deep and cold lakes. Other trout that have been stocked in North Dakota include, the coho salmon and brook trout. Neither were very successful and stocking was discontinued. The lake whitefish is a deep-bodied, flat-sided, large-scaled, silver-colored, small-mouthed fish that has been stocked into the Missouri River system.


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