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News Trout tips and tricks

Want to catch more trout? Learn how to identify and catch the different types of trout that MassWildlife stocks.
3/02/2022
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Media Contact for Trout tips and tricks

Media Contact, MassWildlife

Rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has been operating fish hatcheries since the agency was formed in 1866, making it the oldest state-operated hatchery program in the country. Today, MassWildlife manages five hatcheries in Belchertown, Montague, Sunderland, Sandwich, and Palmer, producing brook, brown, rainbow, and tiger trout. Each spring and fall, MassWildlife stocks these trout in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams throughout the state.  

MassWildlife begins spring trout stocking in March, and will continue stocking through May. Anglers can find daily stocking reports by visiting mass.gov/trout Read on to learn how to identify the different types of trout and get tips for catching them. 

Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis

Brook trout, also known as eastern brook trout, brookies, square tails, and brook char, are Massachusetts’ only native trout. Mature, wild brook trout are often less than 8 inches, whereas brook trout from MassWildlife’s hatcheries are 9–18 inches. 

Identifiers:  

  • Worm-like markings along their back and head

  • Yellow and red spots (the latter surrounded by blue halos) along the sides 

  • Spots lighter than body 

  • White leading edge, backed by black, on its lower fins 

  • During fall spawning season males often develop a deep reddish tint along the belly and darken to black on the chin and throat 

Tips for catching brook trout 

  • Stocked brook trout are found in rivers, lakes, and ponds across the state. (Find stocked waterbodies at mass.gov/trout) They are fairly easy to catch and will strike flies, streamers, small spoons and spinners, worms, grass-hoppers, and even tiny colored marshmallows. 

  • Wild brook trout can be found in shaded stream habitats and should be approached stealthily to avoid detection. Drifting a worm downstream beneath a tiny bobber is an effective technique; you may need to add a split-shot a few inches above the hook to get the bait into swift current areas.

Male and female brook trout

 

Brown Trout (Salmo trutta

Brown trout get their name from their golden-brown color. Also known as German brown trout and Loch Leven Trout, they are native to Europe and Asia and were introduced into Massachusetts in the late 1800s. They are 9–18 inches long when stocked. 

Identifiers: 

  • Golden to brownish-yellow color, sometimes almost silvery 

  • Scattered spots with silver halos

  • Spots are darker than the body 

Tips for catching brown trout 

  • One of the most difficult trout to catch because they are easily spooked and difficult to fool. 

  • Brown trout have more nocturnal habits. 

  • Target them with minnow-imitating plugs, spoons, spinners and streamers, various moth imitations (especially at night) and with cast or trolled live shiners.

Male and female brown trout

 

Tiger Trout (Salmo trutta X Salvelinus fontinalis

Tiger trout get their name from their distinctive striped color pattern. They are a sterile hybrid produced from a male brook trout and a female brown trout. MassWildlife raises tiger trout at the Sandwich Hatchery and stocks approximately 2,500 tiger trout annually. Due to the small number released each year, they are a unique trophy sought by anglers throughout the state. Tiger trout are 14 inches or longer when stocked. 

Identifiers: 

  • Dramatic worm-like pattern across most of their body 

  • Thicker-built than other trout species and like to throw their weight around 

Tips for catching tiger trout 

  • Be prepared; tigers strike more readily and fight harder than either of its parents. 

  • Target tiger trout the same way you would target a brown trout - with minnow-imitating plugs, spoons, spinners and streamers, various moth imitations (especially at night) and with cast or trolled live shiners.

Female tiger trout

 

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss

Rainbow trout get their name from their multicolored pattern. Native to Pacific coastal areas from northern Mexico to Alaska, rainbow trout are now found on every continent except Antarctica. Rainbow trout account for more than 60% of MassWildlife’s hatchery production. Their popularity with anglers stems from their eagerness to bite, beautiful appearance, strong leaping ability, and large size when stocked. Most rainbow trout are more than 12 inches when stocked. 

Identifiers: 

  • Pinkish to red longitudinal band 

  • Small black spots cover them from head to tail 

  • Wide, square tail 

Tips for catching rainbow trout 

  • Rainbow trout strike a variety of baits and lures. 

  • In rivers, an effective technique is to drift half a night crawler or a salmon egg down into pools and holding areas behind boulders. 

  • Nymphs and small gold or silver spinners fished with ultra-light gear is another useful technique. 

  • In lakes and ponds, small spoons and minnow imitations, gaudy streamers, weighted nymphs, and live baits in the form of garden worms, meal worms and tiny shiners will all work well when catching rainbow trout. 

  • The most effective “stockie killer” of recent years is Berkley’s marshmallow-like powerbait. What color the fish will prefer on any given day remains one of the greatest mysteries in fishing.

Male and female rainbow trout

 

Remember, you can get daily stocking reports by visiting mass.gov/trout throughout the spring fishing season. 

Media Contact for Trout tips and tricks

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.
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