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Rainbow Trout in the UK

Written by FishKeep. Posted in Fly Fishing

Rainbow trout were introduced into the UK from the US in the early 1900’s. This introduction coincided with the need to build extra water supplies for the growing industrial cities such as Bristol and Birmingham. For a fish that is unable to breed naturally in all but a few British rivers the Rainbow trout has been an incredible success. This is due to its eagerness to feed compared with the native brown trout and its habit of shoaling.

rainbow trout in the UK
rainbow trout in the UK
Both of these soon made it a firm favourite with the fishermen and because of the Rainbow trout’s faster growth rate it was a favourite with the fish farmer as well. The only fly in the ointment was that two different strains of rainbow trout were used – the Kamloops and the Shasta strain. Unfortunately these strains became sexually mature at different times of the year. This resulted in fishermen catching ‘coloured’ fish in both late and early season.

The development of egg treatment solved this problem by producing Diploid rainbow trout which were all sterile females. This resulted in ‘clean’ fish all year round. As a bonus these trout also grew faster. The introduction of these ‘sexless’ rainbow trout had another benefit for the angler. It opened the door for the abolition of the closed season for rainbow trout. Pressure from both fishery owners and fishermen forced the abolition of the closed season.

The fishery owners benefited from this move and the faster growth rate of these diploid rainbow trout soon resulted in a new national record fish. As a result a race began between fish farmers to grow bigger and bigger rainbow trout to meet the demands of the anglers. Another race began between fishery owners to stock these ‘jumbo’ rainbow trout to attract fishermen to their fisheries.

Selective breeding has since pushed up the growth rate of both rainbow trout and brown trout even more. Coupled with intensive feeding programs and egg treatment this has produced today’s Jumbo rainbows. This has led to a totally confusing situation in the record fish list where separate records now exist for all trout species. There are now separate records for fish which have been recently stocked against fish that have been in the water for a period of time or fish that are ‘wild’.

TROUT (Rainbow) (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
The previous cultivated record of 36lbs 14oz 8 drms caught in 1995 at Dever Springs Trout Fishery, and claimed by C White has been suspended due to statements made by Mr White as to the authenticity of the record claim. Therefore pending the outcome of any legal action that may be taken, the record has been suspended.


Until resolved the Committee will acknowledge fish above the previous record of 30lbs 12ozs, that being a fish caught by Mr T Flower at Tavistock Trout Fishery in July 1994 and consider all claims that are above the 36lbs 14ozs 8 drms fish purported to have been caught by Mr White, these will be processed in the normal way.


The Committee therefore acknowledge the following claim- which has yet to be ratified:-
Cultivated 33 4 0 15 082 2003 J Lawson, Watercress Trout Fishery, Devon
Resident 24 1 4 10 921 1998 J Hammond, Hanningfield Reservoir, Essex
Wild             Vacant

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