How many trout species are found in America?

Eleven trout species are found in America, ten are native, one introduced and an additional species likely locally extinct. There might even be more, but fish classification can be a bit of a nightmare. So the purpose of this article they will be considered sub-species.

So I will now name the trout species and will give a brief background on where they are naturally found. Trout naturally occur in 38 states, but have been introduced to all 50.

Native trout on the West Coast include the Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout and the less well known Gila, Apache and the Californian golden trout.

In the North and East are found Brook trout, Lake trout, Dolly Varden, and the Bull trout.

The Arctic char is only found in Alaska. Some people do not consider char to be trout but it is more naming convention than genetics that separates the two groups.

There is one species of established introduced trout, no prizes are given for guessing it is the Brown.

Finally one species of trout, has likely gone locally extinct which is the Ohrid trout, which like the brown trout is native to Europe.

The 11 trout species of America

Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Probably the best known trout native to America, Rainbow trout are distinguished by their vibrant pink or red lateral stripes along their bodies. They come in a spectrum of iridescent colors.

Brown Trout (Salmo Trutta)

Introduced from Europe brown trout are now widespread across the United States. They commonly display an earth-toned appearance with prominent brown and yellow hues.

Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

Closely related to rainbow trout, and the two species readily hybdize. They are most easily discernible through the presence of distinct red vermilion slashes beneath the mandible. There are several sub-species of Cutthroat trout.

Gila Trout (Oncorhynchus gilae)

The Gila trout is closely related to both rainbow and Apache trout, they are endemic to the Southwestern United States where they are predominately found in the tributaries of the Gila river.

Endemic to the Southwestern United States, the Gila trout embodies resilience, having faced near-extinction and subsequently revived through meticulous conservation endeavours.

Apache Trout (Oncorhynchus apache)

Another close relative to the rainbow and Gila trout. The Apache trout is not numerous, it was actually once on the the brink of extinction, the Apache trout is endemic to a few streams located within the White Mountains Arizona. They have also been stocked in a few lakes.

Californian Golden Trout (Oncorhynchus aguabonita)

California golden trout is one of the best known but less common species of native trout. They are often confused with the bright yellow Palomino which are just rainbow trout with a mutated color pigmented.

California golden trout have a golden hue, they are native to a few high-elevation streams located within the Sierra Nevada. They are closely related to the Mexican golden trout which is found south of the border.

Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis), Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush), Dolly Varden (Salvelinus malma), Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus), and Arctic Char (Salvelinus alpinus)

There are several species of char found in America, the most widely distributed and most well known is the Brook trout which naturally occur on the east coast.

Next best known, and the largest trout species found in the United States are the Lake Trout, they are found in northern lakes.

Like all char species, Bull trout are more common north of the border, but a few can be caught in cold water streams in northern states. The Arctic Char can only be found in Alaska.

The forgotten trout

For a time there was one additional species of trout in America, and there is a small chance some still exists.

These are the Ohrid trout, a species of brown trout native to Lake Ohrid in Europe (It sits between North Macedonia and Albania). Ohrid trout were introduced to various reservoirs and waterways across the country.

The majority of these stockings failed to established populations and the program was halted. A few, or their brown trout hybrids might cling on in Pathfinder Reservoir in Wyoming.


America is home to eleven trout species, with ten being native to various regions. Along the West Coast, species like the Rainbow, Cutthroat, Gila, Apache, and Californian golden trout are native, while in the North and East, Brook, Lake, Dolly Varden, Bull, and Arctic Char dominate, the latter solely residing in Alaska. Brown trout stand as the lone introduced species, often spreading beyond their original habitats and sometimes becoming invasive

Did you know there could be over one hundred trout species globally? Learn more here.

Leave a Comment