Subspecies: A population of a species occupying a particular geographic area, or less commonly, a distinct habitat, capable of interbreeding with other populations of the same species.
Distribution Map of Golden Trout in California
The map depicts the native range of golden trout.
California's Golden Trout Wilderness is home to three unique forms of native trout, and you'll find descriptions for each of these trout in my new Ebook - Native Fish of the Golden Trout Wilderness.
For thousands of years, a population of rainbow trout adapted and evolved in the drainages of the Golden Trout Wilderness. Since then, three unique subspecies of rainbow trout, collectively referred to as golden trout, emerged within the upper Kern River basin.
Whether your goal is completing the California Heritage Trout Challenge, or just finding some of the Southern Sierra Nevada's most scenic stretches of water to wet a line, Native Fish of the Golden Trout Wilderness will help you reach your goal.
An Adobe PDF document will be made available at the end of the purchase check-out. Select Return to the Ecological Angler to view your copy of Native Fish of the Golden Trout Wilderness.
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Golden trout are rainbow trout, so the general attributes of rainbows apply to this subspecies. The color of golden trout happens to be much brighter (i.e., thus the name). The signature bright gold of the lower sides. The belly, cheeks, and branchiostegals are bright red.
The back is deep olive green and sets off the bright gold sides in contrast. The dorsal and caudal fins display large and concentrated spots. Spotting on the body is usually found across the back with a few below the lateral line - as exhibited below on this Kern River Rainbow.
Three subspecies of rainbow trout (collectively referred to as golden trout) are native to the upper Kern River basin. The three are: California golden trout, Kern River rainbow trout, and Little Kern golden trout.
These three golden trout are members of the redband-rainbow trout complex found in isolated areas of California and Oregon. They are thought to represent remnants of the first invasion of rainbow trout into the region. The distinctive coloring and spotting of these fish has resulted in taxonomic confusion. In the final analysis they are not a separate species, but members of the rainbow trout species.
Photo of California Golden Trout by P. Michael Carl © The Ecological Angler