WHAT IS A GOLDEN TROUT? Is it a true Golden Trout, a Golden-Rainbow Trout, a Palomino Rainbow or a native Golden Trout?
The golden rainbow trout originated from a single rainbow trout that was spawned in the fall of 1954 in West Virginia. This trout’s body color was a chimera of golden and normally pigmented tissue. When this fish was crossed with a normally pigmented rainbow trout, the offspring (what we have come to refer to as palomino rainbow trout) were lighter in color.
Golden rainbow trout and palomino rainbow trout are not sterile hybrids, they are simply color variations of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and should not be confused with the golden trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita) native to a few drainages in California. It took selective breeding for several generations to result in the development of true breeding golden rainbow trout. Typically, these fish are more of a brilliant golden color than the palomino rainbow trout, which has a color phase intermediate between the golden and normally pigmented rainbow trout.
The rise of the palomino rainbow trout stemmed from obtaining fertilized golden rainbow trout eggs from West Virginia. Subsequently, when these golden rainbow trout reached maturity, they were crossed with normally pigmented rainbow trout and the offspring resulted in the development of the palomino rainbow trout. Source: PA Boat & Fish Commission
A TRUE GOLDEN TROUT: The Golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita), is a sub-species of the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). The fish is also known as the California golden trout and is native to Golden Trout Creek, Volcano Creek, and the South Fork Kern River. It is found in a number of western states at high elevations.
The golden trout was recognized as a variant species of trout because of its uniquely vibrant markings. The waters at the elevation where the trout are found are very cold and very clear with a high reflective rate.
The Golden Trout, in particular, has adapted very well to this environment in terms of appearance. This trout adapted a yellow gold to olive green tint on its sides and belly. The fish also developed two very brilliant red stripes; one on its belly which runs from the last lower fin to the front of the gill, the other stripe is on the lateral line that typically begins at the seventh lateral spot which also runs to the gill.
These colors were adopted for both passive and aggressive reasons. The gold and red, when viewed from out of the water, make the trout virtually invisible in the shallow creeks of the high Sierras. Having this advantage makes it difficult for predators and prey alike to locate it. Source: sfsu.edu
Below, images of true Golden Trout from the Western USA