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Savoring the Taste of Rainbow Trout: A Delectable Catch

Rainbow trout is popular for fly fishing enthusiasts and can be found in the wild or farmed. They are freshwater fish that live mostly in rivers, lakes, or streams. Some can also be found living in the ocean, but they always return upstream, to their place of birth, to spawn. But what does Rainbow trout taste like?

Rainbow trout taste similar to Salmon. Rainbow trout have a mild, fairly plain, but slightly nutty taste. They are flaky but delicate when cooked and don’t taste too ‘fishy.’ 

Simple is best when preparing this delicacy. There is no need for complicated sauces as they will overpower the flavor. Some butter and a squeeze of lemon are all you need to bring this fish to its glory!

The coloring of the Rainbow trout may vary according to habitat, maturity, and gender. These fish generally have a silvery/pearl-white underside with a pink stripe down their body’s length.

They also have black spots on their tails, fins, and back. Rainbow trout that live in the ocean are called Steelheads due to their silvery color.

Difference Between Salmon and Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout and Salmon are from the same family. Most people cannot tell the difference in the way salmon and rainbow trout look and taste. 

Author Note: The main difference is that Salmon live predominantly in the ocean while rainbow trout live in freshwater. Rainbow trout swim upstream and can be found in rivers, lakes, and streams.

Fish that live in freshwater are more susceptible to parasites than seawater fish and should not be eaten raw. Bacteria and parasites cannot survive in salty seawater. This makes ocean fish safer to eat raw than freshwater fish. 

Salmon is a popular sushi ingredient and often consumed raw. It is not a good idea to eat Rainbow trout raw as the fish may contain harmful bacteria. 

It’s good to know where your sushi fish comes from. There are some reports of restaurants serving Rainbow trout labeled as Norwegian Salmon to save on costs

What is Rainbow Trout?

Rainbow Trout Swimming

Rainbow trout are extremely popular game fish and are commercially farmed in lakes and dams across North America. They get their name from their vibrant, colorful skin.

Wild Rainbow trout usually live 4 – 6 years. They like calm, cool freshwater habitats but have also been known to spend time in the ocean. A distinct characteristic is that every year, they swim upstream to breed in the same place where they hatched.

Author Note: As members of the salmon family, they can grow quite large. The biggest caught Rainbow trout weighed in at 48 pounds. Usually, they average between 2 – 8 pounds and are the perfect serving size for one person.

How to Cook Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout can be prepared in a number of different ways. It’s best not to add too many flavors or sauces as you may lose the subtle nutty flavor of this delicious fish. Some of the same dishes you should use for lake trout work great for Rainbow trout.

Pan-fried in butter or baked in the oven with some garlic and olive oil are two tasty ways to prepare Rainbow trout. Peas & leeks, along with fluffy Basmati rice, are great companions. Serve topped with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice. 

How to Clean Rainbow Trout

If you would like to prepare your freshly caught rainbow trout, you can clean the fish by following these steps. It’s a very similar process to cleaning a bass.

1- Rinse the fish in clean water to remove any slime

2- Lay the fish on its side on a chopping board. Make sure you have a sharp knife.

3- While holding the tail, scrape the scales off each side from tail to head.

4- Remove the head, gills, and front fin.

5- Insert the knife into the excretion hole on the fish’s belly side and make a slit up towards the head.

6- Remove all the guts and insides

7- Rinse well with clean water   

Pan Fried Rainbow Trout with Peas & Leek Recipe

Fillet of Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Pepper


  • 2 x cleaned, whole Rainbow trout
  • 1 x half cup flour for coating. Place the flour on a plate for easy dusting.
  • 2 x ounces butter for frying
  • 1 x lemon
  • Salt & Pepper 

1- Rinse gutted rainbow trout in clean water and pat dry on a paper towel.

2- Dust the fish in flour on both sides.

3- Add butter to a saucepan on medium-high heat and fry fish for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

4- Squeeze lemon juice on top and season with salt & pepper.

The fish should be light pink, firm, and flaky with crispy skin. You’ll know that the fish is cooked when the meat is opaque in color. The flesh should be soft and juicy. This recipe also works great for Bluegill.


  • 400g peas 
  • 3 x large leeks
  • 1 x onion
  • 2 x garlic cloves

1- Slice the onion and fry with some oil in a saucepan.

2- Chop the garlic and add to the pan.

3- Add thinly sliced leeks to the onion/garlic mixture and fry until cooked.

4- Add peas and cook for a further 5 minutes

5- Serve alongside the Basmati rice.

Basmati Rice


  • 1 x cup Basmati rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • A handful of fresh, chopped mint leaves

1 – Pour rice and water into a medium-sized pot and bring to simmer (without a lid)

2- When the surface gets foamy, reduce the heat, put a lid on, and leave to cook for a further 12 minutes.

3 – Take off the heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

4 – Using a rubber paddle, fluff up the rice

5 – Serve sprinkled with chopped mint leaves.

How to Debone Cooked Rainbow Trout

A single rainbow trout can have up to 262 bones! Luckily, you can still enjoy a delicious bone-free meal without too much trouble. 

Rainbow trout can be prepared whole with a variety of different methods. 

Once cooked, you can easily remove the bones in one go. Do you want to know how? Simply use the following technique:

1 – Place the fish on a clean chopping board

2 – Using a sharp knife, cut the fins off

3 – With the fish on its side, cut into the skin, on the tail end, slightly above the spine.

4 – Hold the tail with your free hand and carefully cut down the fish’s length along the spine.

5 – Gently press the meat down with the knife, separating the cooked fish into two halves. The bones will stick to one side.

6 – With the bones facing upwards, hold the tail and gently lift the spine and all the bones up in one piece

7- Serve as desired and enjoy

Interesting Facts & Fishing Tips

Two trout fillet
  •  Rainbow trout swim upstream to spawn in the Spring.
  •  Rainbow trout are known for their bright colors, but colors may vary according to the fish’s age, sex, and habitat.
  • The rainbow trout’s diet consists of crustaceans, insects, small fish, fish eggs, and leftovers from other fish.
  • A female rainbow trout can lay up to as many as 8000 eggs! 
  • Trout can be prey to herons, kingfishers, larger fish, and eagles.
  • What makes Rainbow trout unique is that they return to their place of birth to lay their eggs.
  • The most popular method of catching Rainbow trout is fly fishing.
  • Rainbow trout are best caught with live bait such as a worm or egg sack, but a decent lure will be successful too.
  • There are regulations on the minimum size and amount of Rainbow trout allowed to be caught daily.
  • It is illegal to fish for Rainbow trout without a fishing license.

Rainbow Trout Symbolism

Rainbow trout swim upstream to breed or spawn, reminding us not to take the ‘easy road’ or get lost in emotion. Instead, allow yourself to negotiate a calm path through the troubled water and let the emotion guide you to a safe place to survive, grow and thrive.

Author Note: Many trout spend their days in cool, calm shady areas, out of harms’ reach. They wait for their food to be carried down the stream to them. They are also good hunters. This reminds us to be patient and be aware of our surroundings. Grab opportunities when they appear!

In the popular series “Game of Thrones,” a silver trout is pictured on The House Tully’s sigil. Their house words are “Family,” “Duty,” “Honour.”


Rainbow trout ranks up there with Norwegian Salmon when it comes to look and taste. This fish is simple and easy to clean, prepare and debone. Native to rivers, lakes, and streams, Rainbow trout prefer cool freshwater to saltwater.

They are also known to spend time in the ocean but swim upstream to spawn. Rainbow trout are found globally in the wild and are popular on commercial fishing farms.

The most common way to catch them is by fly fishing. Although, live bait fishing is also popular. There are many campgrounds and parks across America where you can fish for Rainbow trout

We hope you enjoyed this article on what does Rainbow trout taste like. 

Happy Hunting!


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