Home Fishing Tips & Advice What is a Palomino Trout?

What is a Palomino Trout?

If you’ve ever been out fishing and come across what seems like a floating banana, there’s a chance that you’ve just encountered a palomino trout. Otherwise known as the “banana trout” or the “lightning trout,” this crossbreed of trout is one that many anglers will spend an entire day hunting once they’ve seen it. This stunning and quite unique fish has made a name for itself as it can be quite difficult to catch.

So what exactly is a Palomino trout?

This species of trout is a unique cross-breed between a rainbow trout and a West Virginia golden trout. The intense, yellow coloring comes from the combination of the vibrant gold from the golden trout, and the muted streaks of the rainbow trout. The color that comes off from the palomino trout is akin to that of a banana, which is where its nickname comes from.

It can be quite eye-catching once seen and many anglers spend the whole day fishing for it.

As it is a cross-breed of two other species of trout, it is mostly found from hatcheries which then supply bodies of water with thousands of palomino trout every year. Essentially, these fish are reproduced and farmed by hatcheries to meet the growing demand by fishers. They are a fantastic game fish that puts up quite the fight whenever caught – even more so than most other species of trout. In order to find the palomino trout, you’ll need to know where the hatcheries are stocking.

While the palomino trout is easy to spot, it’s much more difficult to catch due to its evasive nature. If you’re going to be catching a palomino trout, it’s important that you do your research beforehand and know exactly where the hatcheries are stocking them for the upcoming fishing season. Another helpful hint is to know how to identify a palomino trout. This might not seem like too difficult of a task, but some palomino trout take after their golden trout parents and share similar coloring.

How to Identify a Palomino Trout

If you see a banana swimming through the waters where a palomino trout would normally be spotted, chances are that it’s in fact a palomino trout. Many anglers have noted the similarities between the coloring and shape of a palomino trout and that of a banana. The first characteristic that you’re likely to notice about the palomino trout is indeed the color. It’s a bright yellow that is unlikely to blend in with any of the surrounding foliage.

The size of the palomino trout is another determining factor about the fish. They tend to grow much faster and end up larger than the rainbow trout parents of theirs. Some can grow up to more than 30 inches and end up weighing 10 or more pounds. As far as size goes, these will stand out amongst the rest of the local fish populations. There will be difficulty determining whether the fish is a palomino trout or a golden trout if you’re fishing in West Virginia waters.

The best way to identify between these two species of fish is to look for the red streak that adorns the side of a palomino trout. This is the genes of the rainbow trout coming into play and will not be found on the naturally occurring golden trout. A palomino trout has the bright yellow coloring – which can sometimes be mistaken for that of the golden trout – and a red stripe along its side. It’s larger than the rainbow trout and will put up more of a fight.

Some anglers have noted that a majority of palomino trout have a paler or “sick” coloring to them when compared to the West Virginia golden trout which has proven to be an effective identifier. Regardless, chances are that if you’re encountering a palomino trout, they have come from a rainbow trout hatchery.

Where to Find the Palomino Trout

The palomino trout is a key part of many stocking programs in the eastern United States and can be found in many different streams and rivers throughout. Your best bet is to contact local hatcheries and find out where they are planning on stocking this year with the palomino trout. If you’re at a loss, your best bet might be to look at the crossover point between the habitats of the golden trout and the rainbow trout, though finding a wild palomino trout will be difficult.

Palomino trouts have similar habitual needs to those of the rainbow and golden trout and will likely be located in similar regions. Their hunting tactics seem to be rather similar as well, though a bit more fire can be found when they are trapped. Keep in mind that one spot flushed with palomino trout one year might be empty the next. This is either due to the different stocking tactics of a hatchery, or the palomino trout attempting to evade predators who have gotten used to their presence.

A Target on Their Backs

The reason why the palomino trout tends to be difficult to pin down is because they are quite the adaptive species. If the palomino trout stays on the same path for too long, predators and fishers alike will become used to their movements, and they will be easier to hunt. To avoid this, adult palomino trout who have been around in the wild have adapted and developed plenty of variations in their movement patterns to avoid being caught.

This target on their backs is what causes them to be so difficult to catch. You might be able to easily spot them, but getting them to bite your line is a whole different story. These are some of the most picky fish you’re likely to encounter as they have adapted not to trust most food they see. Chances are, if they’ve been fed it before, they won’t fall for the trap a second time. That’s why most food given to trout won’t work for the palomino trout. They are often quite selective, simply because it could be the difference between life and death.

While they stand out, it won’t be easy to ever get close to a palomino trout, so be ready to spend the whole day attempting to coax one in, only to walk away with nothing. Though their scales are stunning and unique, it’s what makes them such an easy catch for most predators. It’s for that very reason that you’ll seldom find a natural-born palomino trout.

Difficult to Survive in the Wild

One thing that you’ll notice in the world of cross-bred fish is that it’s very unlikely that they’ll be able to naturally reproduce by themselves. Most fish that are born of two different species breeding with one another don’t have the tools necessary to reproduce themselves. The palomino trout is a rare exception to this rule as they are able to breed with one another and reproduce another palomino trout. There is one issue that makes this process pointless, however.

Due to their bright colors and bland surroundings, chances are a wild palomino juvenile won’t survive too long and very few will reach adulthood. So, though they can reproduce naturally, in many cases, it simply amounts to nothing. Most palomino trout that you’ll encounter in the wild will have been stocked by hatcheries who bred them themselves. This leads to a stable population of palomino trout, but not a natural, self-sustaining one.

How to Catch the Palomino Trout

As we’ve mentioned, finding the palomino trout is easy. Catching it is much more difficult. You’re going to have to outsmart a fish that has learned how to adapt and avoid capture despite the target on its back. Understand that they have been fed similar food since the day they’ve been released into the wild, so the palomino trout is unlikely to go for your typical trout bait as they’ve developed trust issues. Bring new food that is appealing, yet unique to them.

Also, be ready for a fight. Those who have caught the palomino trout are always astonished at the fight that it puts up when being reeled in. Trout are a popular game fish and are known for the fight, but the palomino trout takes it a step further. Don’t skimp out on your tools, and don’t underestimate the species either.

Each year, hatcheries from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia restock the waters around them with thousands of palomino trout so that the population has a chance to establish itself and possibly evolve in a way that makes wild palomino trout more likely to survive and make it to adulthood. They are also used as an exciting draw for many anglers across the east coast as they make for a fun game fish that’s difficult to catch.

By the time the season is over, the population has been thoroughly fished. They’ve also developed the tools necessary to survive and avoid capture by any predators despite the color of their scales and their standout nature.

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Growing up on the south shore of Long Island, Chum Charlie has always had a passion for fishing. His favorite fish to catch is a striped bass and his favorite bait to use is bunker. Off the water, he enjoys blogging and sharing his favorite fishing tips & tricks that he has learned over the years.