What it looks like

  • silver body with many small dark spots
  • radiating rows of spots over tail
  • mouth and gums often white
  • pink lateral stripe often present
  • leading anal fin ray extends the length of the fin
  • long, stocky caudal peduncle (where body joins the tail)
  • Typical length:  35-60 centimetres (14-24 inches)
  • Typical weight:  2.27–6.8  kilograms (5-15 pounds)
  • Ontario record:  18.5 kilograms (40.7 pounds)

Where it is found

Range of Rainbow Trout Great Lakes in Ontario


Rainbows (often called steelhead) are widely distributed in the Great Lakes and in many tributaries of the Great Lakes watershed, as well as in some inland lakes.

Angling Tips

  • Rainbows trout, as with other trout, can be found in warmer, near-shore areas during the spring. In particular, seek them near river and harbour mouths and off sandy and gravely windward shorelines.
  • During the summer, fish disperse into deeper, cooler depths. Rainbow trout, unlike other trout, are spring spawners, moving up streams where the young remain, eventually leaving to the lake to feed and mature.
  • The rainbow is a popular fish because of its fighting ability, dash and beauty. It rises readily to a dry fly floated downstream with the current. It will also take a range of spinners and plugs, as well as various salmon egg baits and yarn flies.
  • In the Great Lakes, most rainbows are caught trolling spoons and minnow imitating plugs.

Common Baits

  • Spoons
  • Plugs
  • Roe
  • Worms
  • Spinners
  • Flies

Similar fish


Map credit - modified from: Mandrak and Crossman (1992)