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Utah Field Guide: Rainbow Trout

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Although native to western North America, the rainbow trout is not native to Utah, but is still extremely popular with Utah anglers. Because of its popularity, the rainbow has been introduced to cold waters throughout the state and because most Utah rainbow trout do not reproduce in the wild, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources stocks millions of rainbows each year.

From 1971 through 1997, the rainbow trout was actually our state fish. That all changed when the Utah legislature adopted the native Bonneville Cutthroat trout in 1997.

Rainbow trout eat primarily invertebrates, including insects, worms, and zooplankton. Some larger rainbows become piscivorous, meaning they eat fish. In areas where rainbow trout and cutthroat trout co-exist, similarities in spawning time can lead to the production of rainbow - cutthroat hybrids. In fact, loss of genetic purity through hybridization with rainbow trout is one of the major threats to Utah's native cutthroat trout populations.

For more information on the rainbow or any other critter found in or around Utah, check out our Utah Field Guide on our outdoors page at

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