Most anglers are familiar with the common species of trout found throughout North America’s rivers and streams. Few fishermen and women are aware that there are many different trout hybrids that exist throughout the world. These rare trout species are highly prized by avid anglers because of their remote habitat and the fact that they are more difficult to catch than more prevalent species.
Trout Hybrids List
The following sections list some of the known trout hybrid species found throughout North America and other parts of the world. We’ll explain in greater detail how these trout hybrids formed, as well as where you can find them.
Palomino Trout (Rainbow Trout and West Virginia Golden Trout)
Palomino trout are among the most sought-after hybrid trout species in the United States. They are usually called golden rainbow trout but are also commonly referred to as “bananas” or “lightening trout” because of their fiery yellow coloration. They came into existence in 1955 after a hatchery in West Virginia successfully bred a rainbow trout with a California golden trout, resulting in a species that has an unmistakable golden color.
While the golden rainbow trout originated in West Virginia, it can now be found throughout streams and rivers around the Great Lakes region, as well as the Pacific Northwest, where hatcheries have stocked them in certain waters. Some streams around West Virginia and the Appalachian mountains are now home to a self-sustaining population of golden rainbow trout.
Tiger Trout (Brook Trout x Brown Trout)
The tiger trout is a result of cross-breeding between a brook trout and brown trout species. They are commonly found in the lakes and rivers of Michigan and Wisconsin. Tiger trout very rarely come to be as a result of the natural spawning process and are usually found in lakes that are heavily stocked with both brook trout and brown trout.
These fish are one of the more puzzling trout hybrids from the perspective of freshwater marine biologists because tiger trout look exceptionally different from their parent species in more ways than one. In addition to their distinct color patterns, tiger trout hybrids are also more muscular than brooks and browns. This added density makes them a true delight for angles to catch, as they are often considerably stronger and fight much harder than common trout species.
Cheetah Trout (Brook Trout x Rainbow)
The cheetah trout species are a unique type of fish that comes from the interbreeding of brook trout and rainbow trout. These are not commonly found in a natural setting but are usually caught by anglers in lakes and streams that are stocked with both types of trout species. Cheetah trout are sterile hybrids and unable to reproduce in the wild.
In recent years, cheetah trout are becoming more common in a few lakes located in Victoria, Australia. Many dedicated trout fishing enthusiasts will travel great distances for a chance of catching trout like these.
Splake (Brook Trout x Lake Trout)
The Splake trout are another distinct species that are among the more sought-after hybrid trout found throughout the world. These fish are a very specific pairing that results when a male brook trout fertilizes the eggs of a female lake trout. These trout have an insidious reputation because of their insatiable appetite, as their diet usually consists of other trout species that live around them. Some anglers have nicknamed the Splake trout the “Wendigo trout” after the cannibalistic demon told of in Canada’s native folklore.
The Splake trout can grow to be as large as 20 pounds (9 kg), and they are most commonly caught in the waters of Ontario. This is mainly due to the fact that the Canadian government routinely stocks Splake trout each year along the Georgian Bay and a few other lakes in the region.
Brownbows (Brown Trout x Rainbow Trout)
The Brownbow trout is a hybrid species that came about in the mid-1990s after geneticists at the University of Washington successfully hybridized a German brown trout with a rainbow trout. The fish were initially developed to be a more sustainable sport fish than the brown trout, which is notoriously hard to raise due to the fact that these trout stop eating for a full month before they spawn.
These can be caught in and around the Pacific Northwest, and they are generally known to grow to be about the size of an average rainbow trout. Brownbows usually more closely resemble brown trout but carry many of the physical traits of rainbows as well. Both brown trout and rainbow trout can grow to be more than 40 pounds in the wild, but brownbows are usually known to grow to a much smaller size when they reach maturity.
Brake (Lake Trout x Brown Trout)
The Brake trout is another hybridized fish species that was developed by researchers and geneticists in the early 1990s. Scientists in Utah managed to successfully cross-breed a female brown trout and a male lake trout. These trout are sterile and unable to reproduce, but they are extremely rare compared to most other hybrids due to the fact that the program in which they were developed was discontinued due to a number of difficulties in sustaining the fish.
Cutbow (Rainbow Trout x Cutthroat Trout)
Cutbow trout hybrids are a somewhat commonly-occurring cross-breed that are usually found along the Pacific Northwest from California up to the Alaskan coast. They are one of the few fertile hybrid species that are found in North America. Cutbow trout are the result of rainbow trout spawning with cutthroat trout.
Co-nooks (Coho x Chinook)
The Co-nook is a hybrid species stemming from the salmon fish family. These fish are capable of reaching nearly 30 pounds in some cases and are said to grow even larger in some instances. The co-nook is a result of the coho salmon cross-breeding with the Chinook salmon. Their native range is the same as that of their parent species, and they are most often caught in the coastal ocean waters.
Pinooks (Chinook Salmon x Pink Salmon)
The Pinook salmon is a very unique species found throughout the northern parts of North America. Anglers from the Great Lakes region all the way to the Pacific coast of Canada chase after these beautiful species for a chance at catching one. The Pinook salmon is capable of growing up to roughly 16 pounds and can be caught in larger rivers and streams throughout Canada and part of the northern and western United States.
Chumpies (Chum Salmon x Pink Salmon)
Another extremely rare species of hybrid fish are the Chumpies salmon. These fish were found to be the result of pairing a chum and pacific salmon after geneticists from Washington State hoped to combine the best characteristics of both species. They are seldom caught in the wild and remain one of the more elusive hybrid fish in the world.
Brown Trout x Atlantic Salmon
One of the more common hybrid species known to occur naturally is that of the brown trout and the Atlantic salmon. This hybridization is known to occur throughout the range of the Atlantic salmon as there are almost always brown trout eggs found in the same streams and habitat where salmon are known to spawn.
Rainbow trout x Coho Salmon
Anglers who are familiar with the Cobow know that this fish is a hybrid species resulting from the cross-breeding of a Rainbow trout and Coho salmon. They are often caught in the streams and rivers of Idaho and have reportedly landed in waters throughout the western United States and the Rocky Mountains.
Trout, Salmon and Char FAQs
The following sections offer information related to the various hybrids resulting from trout, salmon, and char species.
Are hybrids sterile?
Most hybrid species of trout and salmon are usually sterile and unable to reproduce. However, there are some instances where certain species are known to have the ability to spawn and produce offspring that go on to live and grow to maturity. Most species that are found in lakes are typically more likely to have the ability to interbreed and produce offspring.
Why are hybrids created?
Hybrid trout and salmon species are created when the eggs from one species of fish are fertilized by the other. This happens on occasion in the wild for some trout and salmon or char species, but many of the more popular hybrids known to exist more recently are a result of geneticists and scientists working to implant the eggs of one species with the sperm of another.
Many scientists have worked for decades to study each species of fish and determine which kind of trout or salmon would be preferable when paired together. However, there have been numerous attempts in the last century to cross-breed certain species of salmon and trout to produce hybrids without success.
Are hybrids fun to catch?
Hybrids are always considered highly unique species, making them very fun and exciting for any angler to catch. Many dedicated fishermen and women will spend many days, weeks, or even months out of each year trying to catch a specific hybrid species, as these are usually very difficult to locate, catch, and land.
In some cases, such as the tiger trout, hybrids can be larger and of a more powerful build. This makes trout hybrids more fun to catch in terms of sheer fighting power because the fish are capable of swimming faster and pulling harder against a rod and reel.