Trout, Rainbow

(Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Commonly referred to as Rainbows!

The rainbow trout was introduced into Western Australia in 1942 to provide anglers with food and a fresh water species worth catching. They prefer cooler climates and are restricted to the majestic fresh water streams and rivers that flow throughout the south west of the state. Rainbows are considered to be not only a visually stunning species but  have also gained the reputation of being a fine table fish. The sporting qualities of the rainbow trout are legendary among most seasoned anglers making the rainbow trout one of the most highly prized fresh water sport fish available.


Rainbow trout can be located throughout W.A from the majestic south west and north to Serpentine in most of our beloved fresh water rivers, streams and man made catchments. They are also found in S.A., VIC and N.S.W. with Tasmania proving to be the ultimate Rainbow trout locality in the country!


Rainbow trout can grow to over one meter in length and reach staggering weights of up to 15kg although most rainbows encountered here in mainland Australia averaging around 500 grams to 1kg with anything over this size considered to be large! Male rainbow trout grow much faster than females as do fish living in lakes as opposed to streams. Spawning for trout throughout Australia can be quite difficult depending on water levels etc but generally occurs between the months of May and August. Rainbow trout have an amazing and uncanny knack of making their way back to the exact stream location they were originally hatched. These spawning locations generally have a gravel bottom with plenty of oxygenated water passing over it. On arrival the female will dig a nest or redd with her tail and deposit between 800 and 1000 eggs.  The male  then fertilizes the eggs with his milt before the female moves further up stream to dig another two. The action of the second and third redd being dug out sends loose gravel and debris down stream covering the initial breeding site and protecting it during the following few months. The eggs eventually hatch in spring and both the male and female may use the same breeding site for more than three years.


Rainbow trout prefer fresh water locations such as rivers, streams and man made water catchments. They congregate around fast flowing, oxygenated water surrounded by heavy structures such as logs and gravel banks with larger boulders and deep pools present


Rainbow trout can be easily recognised by their long, narrow bodies that can vary in colouration from olive to silver, green or blue in lake fish to darker more prominent colourings in resident stream fish or spawners. They also have dark, black spots present on the body, head and gill covers with a bright pink to red horizontal stripe running along the lateral line.

Taste rating

  • Seventy Taste Rating

Although large, wild, rainbow trout should be released for breeding smaller, brood stock specimens released by hatcheries are reasonable eating especially when smoked or baked.

Sport rating

  • Eighty Sport Rating

Big, rainbows have plenty of power especially when they are headed into heavy cover or hooked on ultra light fly or spin outfits.

Tackle requirements

Ultra light and light graphite spin rods 6’6” – 7’ in length that will cope with gel spun and braided lines rated from 1 – 4kg are ideally suited to targeting rainbow trout and when coupled with quality spin reels in the 1000 – 2500 class make excellent outfits for throwing both baits and lures. Larger outfits spooled with heavier 10 – 12lb nylon line can also be used when targeting larger fish around heavy cover with baits but will struggle to cast small hard bodied and soft plastic lures. Fluoro carbon leaders with breaking strains of 2 – 10lb should also be joined to mainlines via an improved albrite knot and not only prevent the fish from seeing your brightly coloured main line but also help from being chaffed of on rough structures. Light fly outfits rated between #4 – #6 weight are also ideal for targeting rainbows and have proven to be not only incredibly challenging and rewarding to master but also extremely effective on larger, elusive specimens.

Recommended baits, lures and rigs

Fresh or live earth worms and night crawlers, mud eyes as well as grass hoppers and other large insects are an ideal bait option for chasing big  rainbows and should be fished on a pattern and size of hook that’s suit’s the bait. Bait holder styled hooks are ideal for most situations. Hard bodied, soft plastic, sub surface, metal spoons and bladed lures from 50mm – 100mm in length will also temp big rainbows into striking with this exciting new style of fishing really taking off amongst all anglers from beginners to the pro’s over the last few years. Many fresh water clubs are now being formed to encourage fresh water fishing throughout W.A.

Handy hints and tips

Try rubbing a couple of drops of aniseed oil on your hands before commencing fishing for trout, this will encourage shy fish to actively feed and is considered to be illegal in some countries due to its efficiency for attracting fish. Always fish as light as possible for trout this includes sinkers, lines and leaders. Quality lures and fresh baits will always catch you better quality fish and casting lures is much more fun and often more productive than fishing with bait. Always take note of the surroundings and try to be as quiet as possible!

Preferred fishing times and tides

Rainbow trout will happily feed during most times of day depending on location.


[What The Fish]