Learn Info You Need to Answer “When Do Trout spawn?”

By Andy Whitcomb

Mar 20, 2018

It is important to know when each species of trout spawns for angling and conservation. 

Trout are tremendously popular sport fish. There several species but rainbow, brown, and brook trout seem to get most of the attention. When trout fishing, it is important to be able to know answers to fish life history questions, such as “when do trout spawn.

Trout Spawning Season, Depends on the Species

Rainbow trout spawning season is in the spring. However steelhead, which are anadromous rainbow trout, seasonally move in and out of streams. They will enter lake or ocean tributaries in fall and remain in the stream most of winter before spawning in the spring and heading back to the lake usually by April. Brown trout spawning season is in the fall or early winter. So too, is the brook trout, which actually isn’t even a trout, but a type of char.

Hatcheries and the Spawning Seasons

Although there are distinct spawning seasons for each trout species, hatcheries have been able to extend fishing opportunities in some areas. By artificially reproducing trout from parents collected from various geographical locations, fish hatcheries have found that the timing of trout spawning varies with these slightly different genetic strains. Also, to fully answer when do trout spawn we need to take into account influences by water temperature, day length, and even water flow. Trout need cool, clean, silt-free, gravelly areas.

If you are Wading

If you are wading during or near trout spawning season, try to stay on the shore and even leave the stream completely if you notice spawning activity such as a fish turning on a side and kicking up gravel with tail, or find spawning nests, called redds, which are evident by large patches of cleaned gravel. The goal of any fishery should be to not be totally dependent on stocking so try not to disturb any areas of natural reproduction.

Knowing the answer to “when do trout spawn,” is important for fishing as well as the conservation aspects. You may find that trout feed heavier before spawning. In larger creeks and streams that support staggered spawning by several species, fly anglers can benefit by casting patterns that mimic trout (or salmon) eggs at various stages of development.  Plus, regulations may prevent fishing completely during that trout spawning season window so read up when you renew your fishing license.

Andy Whitcomb
Andy Whitcomb
Andy is an outdoor writer (http://www.justkeepreeling.com/) and stressed-out Dad has contributed over 380 blogs to takemefishing.org since 2011. Born in Florida, but raised on banks of Oklahoma farm ponds, he now chases pike, smallmouth bass, and steelhead in Pennsylvania. After earning a B.S. in Zoology from OSU, he worked in fish hatcheries and as a fisheries research technician at OSU, Iowa State, and Michigan State.