Friday, February 13, 2009

Donaldson Trout Explained

Donaldson trout (sometimes called, "Super Trout") is a special hybrid trout which is part steelhead, cutthroat, and rainbow trout. These trout get their name from the man who originally created this hybrid, Lauren Donaldson. If you're interested, they're officially classified as Oncorhynchus Mykiss (same as steelhead and rainbow trout).

Donaldson became very interested in fish genetics while working in a Montana fish hatchery in the 1930's. The usual practice for raising trout in hatcheries back then was to procure some roe (or fish eggs) from a stream and take them back to the hatchery for raising. Once the fish reached a catchable size, they were released back into the wild.

While this practice still continues today, some folks have taken to playing God by creating their own hyrid strains of trout. Donaldson created his "Super Trout" in 1944 at the University of Washington.

Naturally there are advantages and disadvantages to raising hybrid trout. One of the biggest advantages is that it gives anglers the opportunity to catch "trophy size" trout. This was one of Donaldson's goals when creating his trout hybrid.

Donaldson's trout are unique in that they are not only large and put up a good fight, but can also adapt to salt water (like steelhead). Their ability to adapt and survive in salt water has made them highly sought after for commercial fisheries (especially in Norway, Finland and Japan).

Several fisheries in the U.S. stock Donaldson trout for anglers including Lake Amador (California), Red Hills Lake (Oregon), and the Great Lakes, to name just a few.

Lake Amador is a popular fishing spot for Donaldson trout. The lake has its own hatchery where they raise Donaldson trout. Several tons of trout are released each year in Lake Amador.

When fishing for Donaldson trout, the key is to fish near or just below the surface (no deeper than about 3 feet). These trout tend to hang out near the surface, looking for an easy meal. If you fish too deep, your offering may be out their view. Fishing at night under a flashing bobber has been a successful technique for many shore anglers.

By the way, in case you're wondering how Donaldson trout taste, it's been reported that they taste more like salmon than trout. Many say the meat is more moist and the flavor less intense than salmon.

For more information about Donaldson trout, click here.

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