Trout of 16 kg (35 lb) have been taken by sport fishers, but they can grow much larger. A Gerrard was introduced into Jewel Lake, near Greenwood; it weighed 23.6 kg (52 lb) when netted in the 1930s. Gerrards are now stocked in several lakes throughout the Interior.
Anglers consider Rainbow trout in one of its three guises the most popular fish: Kamloops Trout, Gerrard Rainbows, and sea-run Steelhead. No other fish stirs the blood like Steelhead – large, super-charged, sea-run Rainbow trout.
Their size, strength, speed and stamina are considered the ultimate challenge by legions of freshwater anglers. No other place in the world offers them in such abundance as BC – or in such varied fishing situations. Steelhead are found in creeks and streams throughout the coastal regions, Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands, and in major river systems like the Fraser, Bella Coola, Skeena, Nass, and Stikine, as well as the world renowned Thompson.
There are two strains of Steelhead: winter-run and summer-run, but spawning migrations often overlap. Many rivers contain both, but some have only one or the other.
Closely related to Rainbows are two other species of trout native to BC: coastal and westslope Cutthroat trout, commonly called “Cutts.” Both species are opportunistic feeders, but their diet tends to favour small fish over aquatic insects. Coastal Cutthroat are present in most lakes and rivers along the coastal mainland and offshore islands, and wherever accessible to saltwater they are often anadromous. It is not uncommon for anglers to encounter these heavily-spotted trout while fishing for Steelhead. Although popular with fly fishers, large lake-dwelling Cutthroat – a few up to 5 kg (11 lb) or more – are usually taken by deep trolling with plugs.
Westslope Cutthroat originated in the Kootenays of Southwest BC, but have been successfully stocked in many lakes in the Okanagan. Although trout in high alpine lakes are seldom large, they reach very respectable sizes in lower elevation lakes and streams in the Kootenays, where they are popular with fly fishers.
Brown trout have a very limited range in BC but are known to reach weights of up to 6 kg (13 lb) in Cowichan and Cameron lakes on Vancouver Island. Browns are also caught in the Cowichan River, and to a lesser degree in the Little Qualicum and Adams rivers. They are also present in the Kettle River in the Okanagan.
Dolly Varden are present in many coastal lakes and streams, and are often caught while fishing for coastal Cutthroat or Rainbow trout. The large Bull trout are more common in interior and northern BC waters.
Lake trout are common in most large lakes throughout central, eastern and northern BC. Known to reach weights of 15 kg (33 lb) and more, they are usually caught by deep trolling with large spoons.
Introduced Brook trout do well in various lakes throughout the province, attaining weights of over 3 kg (6.6 lb) in some waters. They bite on a wide range of baits, lures and flies, and are especially popular during winter ice fisheries.
Kamloops trout are considered the highest-jumping, most acrobatic of any trout in the world. Native to the south-central and central interior regions, they reach marvellous sizes and provide excellent sport.