The Golden Trout is one of the most cherished fish in the entire world though they are tough to find in their natural birth lakes and streams. They are California’s state fish, and are found naturally high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Because they are so rare now in their natural state, golden trout are a bit of a Holy Grail to fly fishermen that don’t normally have access to them. Going after golden trout means taking a long hike and staying in the wild for a time most often. This makes for some awesome fishing trips, and stories, for fly fishermen of all ages.
What is a golden trout and how do I recognize one?
The golden trout is easy to spot because of a number of striking features. They are relatively small at about the length of a ruler, and they can get to be fairly heavy. Anything over a pound or two is considered a good catch simply because they are so tough to find naturally.
The golden trout is olive on top and slowly changes to a red stripe down the side. Underneath is the golden belly that it is named for and among the most beautiful natural colors in nature. This trout is something to see when it is shining out of the water in your hands. The colors are spectacular.
Golden trout hybrids and stock fish
While the native originals are very rare, the fish species itself is found in more and more places all the time. They have been introduced as species in a number of mountain lakes and streams in the northwest. This stands in sharp contrast to the dwindling species of native golden trout. They have been driven out of most of their habitat by commercialism and non-native species being introduced artificially.
Catching golden trout
Goldens are usually found at the beginning or end of a pool of water, so that is a great place to start. If you don’t find them there, then check in the rapids or active areas of water. You don’t need anything fancy to catch goldens. A simple four foot ultra-light along with a ultra-light reel will do the trick nicely. Add a few split shots depending on how fast the water is moving and throw some salmon eggs or nymphs on. Always cast upstream of where you anticipate the goldens to be. Streamers can be highly effective as well on days when it is not overcast.
When the golden hits your line it is very subtle. The line is very sensitive to this bite, so you have to concentrate and get used to the movement. Over time you will feel the bites easily. When you do get that bite, raise the rod up high and you will likely get them. Now you are in for a treat.
Regardless of size, goldens are very strong fighters. On fly fishing gear they will feel much larger than they actually are. Once you have them reeled in, however, you will see that it was worth the fight. These are the most beautiful trout in the world in my view. They also are awesome eating if you get one that is big enough to dine on. Most people turn them loose given their fragile numbers, however.