It may as a surprise to know that most trout anglers don’t eat their catch. I feel that they are missing out. Lately, I’ve only been going trout fishing when I feel like eating some trout.
There are 11 species of trout in the U.S and even more sub-species. Let’s take a look at the best-tasting trout.
Many anglers will claim the Brook Trout as the best tasting trout.
Native to Europe, brown trout were brought over to the U.S from Germany. The Brown Trout population is now thriving all across North America and can be found in many rivers and lakes.
Brown trout feed on a variety of aquatic insects, smaller fish, and even small mice and frogs.
Their diverse diet lends to their flavor. I like to eat brown trout from high elevation waters. I find that this really increases the flavor of the brown trout.
Broun trout meat is extremely flaky when cooked properly and has a delicate flavor. It absorbs any ingredients well.
A sea trout is actually a Brown Trot. The only difference is the sea trout is anadromus and spends time out at sea.
This really has a favorable impact on the taste of the trout. The saltwater penetrates the meat.
Another big factor in the difference of taste between a sea trout and brown trout is the diet.
Sea Trout primarily feed on shrimps, prawns, small crabs, and smaller fish.
The taste of Sea Trout would be more similar to salmon than River Brown Trout.
Rainbow Trout are native to the U.S and are one of the most common trout across American waters. There is a healthy rainbow trout stocking program throughout America ane they can be easily found in many lakes, rivers, and ponds.
Rainbow Trout are also the most common trout found at the fish counter in supermarkets.
Most anglers who eat their fish would put rainbow trout high on their list.
Their diet is similar to that of a Brown Trout. They feed on insects, minnows, fish eggs, zooplankton, and crustaceans.
I find there is not much of a taste difference between rainbow trout and brown trout. The meat on a Rainbow Trout is a little firmer than the meat on a Brown Trout.
Similar to the sea trout, the steelhead is a sea-run rainbow. The steelhead diet is no different from rainbow trout when they are in freshwater. Once they enter the sea, their diet changes to small fish like herring, sardines, anchovies. They also eat a large number of crustaceans and squid.
Steelhead is unique in that when it returns to the river to spawn, and it will not die like salmon but rather return to the ocean. It can do this several times over its life.
The lifestyle of a steelhead contributes to the firm flakey meat. Steelhead will often grow larger than rainbow trout. The meat from a steelhead is considerably different than a stocked rainbow trout. The steelhead would be a much better-tasting trout.
Palomino trout are a cross between a rainbow trout and a west Virginia golden trout.
There are far fewer palomino trout than there are rainbow trout. However, if you are fortunate enough to land one of these, you can prepare them as you would a rainbow.
The taste of the two is quite similar. The only major difference is the appearance. The meat from the palomino may be pinker or more orange than the rainbow.
Califonia Golden Trout
Golden Trout is another rare trout to come across. If you luck into one of these, you are in for a culinary delight.
Due to the range and lifestyle of these fish, they have an exquisite taste.
You can find these trout in high-altitude rivers and lakes where the water is cold and clear.
The flesh is akin in color to that of a salmon. This is one of the more diverse fish for cooking methods.
Cutthroat trout are very flavorful. This is another species of trout that anglers go to great lengths to catch.
I recommend cooking this trout with minimal seasoning, so you don’t overpower the delicate natural flavors of the fish.
Cutthroat trout prefer clear cold streams and feed largely on flies and other aquatic invertebrates.
This trout is a fan favorite. In a poll I did on anglers’ favorite trout, brook trout came out on top. The strange thing is brook trout isn’t technically a trout. The brook trout belongs to the char family like many other trout on this list.
The char family is some of the tastiest fish you can eat.
The Brook Trout is one of the most retained trout for eating. The meat of a brook trout is the most delicate of all trout species. It has a sweet flavor and can be prepared in numerous ways.
I find the best way to cook a brook trout is right n the side of the river. I like to keep it simple and pan fry it with some butter, herbs, and seasoning.
This trout cooks fast, and the skin turns a delicious golden brown color; it’s worth cooking it with the skin on.
Another member of the Char family, the lake trout, is not a true trout either. While I don’t find them as tasty as brook trout, they are still delicious in their own right.
Lake trout can grow quite large, and there is plenty of meat should you land one.
Lake trout are not as delicate as Brook trout; their meat has more of a medium fish flavor.
Lake trout are also more oily than most other trout.
It’s best to cook lake trout with other ingredients to make a full dish.
They are also extremely good smoked.
Trout Location Affects Taste
Similar to most animals, the lifestyle and diet of a trout affect the taste greatly.
I find that trout from higher elevations where the water is cold and clear will often taste superior to trout at lower elevations.
The diet of a trout makes a huge difference in the taste. Sea-run trout like steelhead and sea trout that feed on shrimp and squid are more flavorful than a stocked trout at a local pond.
If you want to try trout for the first time, I highly recommend finding a stream at a high elevation or head to the sea to catch one.
As well a location impacting the taste of a trout, it is best practice to kill the fish quickly, as this will also affect the taste.
Best Methods for Cooking Trout
Trout are a very diverse fish for cooking. Depending on the type of trout you want to cook will determine the best method for cooking.
For trout like brook trout or cutthroat trout, the best method is to stay as minimal as possible as the flesh is naturally mild, tasty, and delicate.
For oily trout like lake trout, I find they are best tasting when they are smoked.
Trout like steelhead and sea trout can be done in numerous ways; grilling them is an all-time favorite.
The list of ways of cooking trout is endless. Grilling, battering, frying, baking. Whatever your method, I’m sure you will find the taste of trout more appealing than you thought.
Why You Should Eat More Trout
As I mentioned at the start of this article, many anglers do not keep their trout for eating. Most are primarily catch and release anglers.
I have always kept most of my trout for eating. The main issue I see is that most anglers are fishing local stocked trout, which don’t have the greatest taste.
If the same anglers were to try a brook trout from high elevations or a sea trout from the Atlantic, I believe it would change their opinion on the taste of trout.
One of the reasons you should eat more trout is because they are full of nutritional benefits.
Trout are high in omega 3 fatty acids. They don’t have a high mercury content compared to other common fish that people eat.
A freshwater trout has 0.071 mercury concentration mean, whereas a tuna has 0.354.
Typical Rainbow trout nutrition 79g fillet
Many people will head to the store and pick up some farmed fish for their meal. This includes many anglers.
These farmed fish pale in comparison to the taste of a healthy wild trout caught from a fresh river.
Trout offers an abundance of nutritional benefits. There is plenty of the above-mentioned trout with healthy populations across North America.
The feeling of heading to a remote river and landing your own trout on the fly to cooking it, and completing the full circle is a feeling you won’t quickly forget.
You can incorporate trout into a huge range of meals.
For me, Brook Trout or sea trout are the best-tasting trout. If you have access to either of these, it’s worth trying.