Catching (and 5 ways to cook) Rainbow Trout!
10.06.2020 | eightclaws | Fishing Tips

Rainbow Trout

Q: Are rainbow trouts real?

A: Rainbow trouts are definitely real!

Q: What is a rainbow trout?

A: Rainbow trout are probably the most common and easiest to catch of all trout.  They are stocked in many lakes and rivers and eat a wide variety of both baits and lures.  They are also very popular among fly fishermen.

Even the stocked fish, however, can often be picky, and sometimes you have to try a variety of approaches before you find what they want that day.  Most rainbow trout caught range from 1/2 to 3lbs in size, with anything much over that being a pretty decent fish in most places other than Alaska and a couple of other places. They, along with Largemouth Bass and Panfish, are the most commonly pursued freshwater gamefish in North America.

Rainbows often jump when hooked and are a fun adversary on light tackle.  As an added bonus, many of the mountain rivers and lakes where they are found are very scenic which adds to the fishing experience.  Wild-caught rainbows taste delicious.  

Even stocked Rainbows taste ok but obviously not as good as the wild ones since they were raised on pellets.  

Catching Rainbow Trout

Q: How do you catch rainbow trout?

A: Rainbow trout eat a number of different types of lures, including spinners, spoons, plugs, and jigs in the 1"-3" size range.

If you had to pack just one lure for trout, I would suggest a small Crankbait. It also catches most other types of game fish that live in the same lakes and streams which is a plus.  

You can cover a tremendous amount of water, including various depths, with these due to how far you can cast them. 

Sometimes trout are focused on insects. 

You will see them rising to eat them on the surface and they usually ignore all other types of food during this time.  If you are a fly fisherman then this is the time you have been waiting for, but if you aren't that into fly fishing then this can be frustrating. 

One approach you can take is to tie a small clear bobber to your line, followed by a 4' or 5' very light leader, and tie a fly on the end. You can cast this with regular spinning gear and probably get more distance than the fly fishermen in most instances. 

You then VERY SLOWLY retrieve it back so that it looks like a bug drifting along.  If you are fishing in moving water you can just let it drift on its own and reel in slack. 

The fun part of this is that you can see the fish eat your fly most of the time. 

The hard part is that they usually bite and spit it out in one quick motion so you have to be very fast on the hookset.  This tactic has been very productive for me in times when all else failed.

For bigger trout, we suggest Minnow baits. Either silver colors or colors that resemble small Rainbow Trout are the best ones for reeling in the big catches.

These are also very good for Brown Trout and catch the occasional Largemouth Bass as well.

Cooking Rainbow Trout

Q: Is rainbow trout good for you?

A: If you still need convincing about rainbow trout, here are two reasons to start incorporating it into your meals.

First, it’s an oily fish with plenty of omega-3s which contribute to your health in numerous ways.

Second, its fillets are so thin that it cooks in practically no time. That means more time for the other hundred things on your to-do list.

Q: How do you cook rainbow trout?

A: Check out these five ways to cook rainbow trout that take the fuss out of eating healthy.

1. Oven-roasted: Preheat your oven to 375°F – 400°F.  Place trout in a baking pan covered with parchment or foil and a light spritz of cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fillet flakes easily when pressed with a fork. 

2. Broiled: Lay rainbow trout skin side down in baking pan. Turn the broiler on high and situate the trout four inches away from the heat source. Broil for three to five minutes. 

3. Grilled: Clean and then lightly oil the grate of your grill. Set it to medium to medium-high heat and place rainbow trout on the grate. Cook for three minutes on one side and then flip it over very carefully trout fillets are very thin and delicate to cook on the other side for an additional three minutes. 

4. Sautéed: Heat a lightly oiled pan on medium to medium-high heat. Place the trout in the pan flesh side down. Sauté for two to three minutes on each side. 

5. Poached: Place trout in a pan with aromatic vegetables and cover with stock/liquid until it is fully submerged. Cook on low heat for six to eight minutes. 

And remember: when it doubt, always grab the meat thermometer. Your rainbow trout fillets should reach at least 145° Fahrenheit.