The rainbow trout is native to rivers and lakes of North America, west of the Rocky Mountains, but its reputation as a hard-fighting (they have a tendency to leap repeatedly when hooked) and delicious game fish has led to its introduction throughout the world.
The strain of rainbow trout native to Nevada is known as the redband trout. The species was first identified in Nevada from a small Owyhee River drainage stream in 1964. Fish management has since delineated 176 individual stream populations in northeastern Nevada. They can be found primarily in the Owyhee, Bruneau, and Salmon Falls River drainages.
Although not native to the Great Basin, since the late 1800s rainbow trout have been widely stocked throughout the state due to the fishes’ ability to easily adapt to a wide range of aquatic environments and their popularity with anglers. Rainbow trout can survive in large lakes and reservoirs as well as in small ponds; they thrive in large river systems as well as small creeks.
Rainbow trout are stocked extensively due to the fact that they are the easiest and most economical of all trout to raise in a hatchery environment. In 2011, the Nevada Department of Wildlife stocked more than 1 million rainbow trout in Nevada waters.
The Silver State is known for growing large rainbow trout; NDOW received 18 entries in its Trophy Fish Program for rainbow trout in 2011. This includes a new state record caught by Mike Mott (pictured) at Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in February of last year. The monster fish weighed in at 16 pounds, 8 ounces and measured 30.5 inches long.
There are many waters in which rainbow trout have naturalized and maintain self-sustaining wild populations. Wild rainbow trout are found in many rivers and streams throughout the state, including the Carson, Truckee, and Walker Rivers. If you’re ready for the best fishing trip of your life, head for northeastern Nevada for a series of pristine alpine lakes and untouched mountain streams. Jarbidge Wilderness Area is known for it’s legendary fishing, along with a handful of alpine lakes nestled in the Rubies. #NVWildlife
Fishing Season in Nevada
In order to fish for rainbow trout in Nevada, anglers need an Annual Fishing License ($29 for residents; $69 for nonresidents) and a Nevada Trout Stamp ($10) or a 1-Day/Short Term Fishing Permit ($9 for residents; $18 for nonresidents). The Nevada license year is March 1, 2012 through February 28, 2013. Fishing licenses can be purchased online at ndowlicensing.com or at any Nevada Department of Wildlife licensing agent. For more information on purchasing your permits, please click HERE, or dial the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 1-855-6369.