Wild tiger trout may be the rarest of the trout family.
They are a hybrid of a female brown trout and a male brook trout. They are distinctive, the dark modeled pattern of a brook trout’s back extending down their sides to their belly. This bold pattern won them the name tiger trout. The pattern more closely resembles the coat of an ocelot but I suppose ocelot trout sounds silly.
Browns and brooks are both fall spawners so it’s bound to happen that some big beautiful brown trout catches the eye of an eager brookie but getting a tiger out of the deal is still tricky. A brook trout, being a char, has 84 chromosomes and a brown trout only 80. A fertilized egg will yield a fry only 5% of the time. The resulting tiger trout is sterile so there is no tiger trout to tiger trout reproduction.
The science guys have figured out how to make tiger trout in the lab. They fertilize the brown trout eggs with brook trout milt and then shock them with heat which causes the eggs to mutate adding a chromosome pair and boosting the success rate to 85%. A pretty cool trick but why would you do it?
Well, it turns out that the tiger isn’t just in the stripes. Tiger trout have the attitude to boot. They are aggressive piscivores and grow quickly, eating every smaller fish they can. For that reason they have proven to be an effective tool for controlling invasive species. Since they are sterile, there is no fear of their population getting out of hand.
I’m not a big fan of tinkering with the ecosystem and used carelessly, tiger trout could reek havoc on native fish. However several states have used tiger trout stocking as a means of controlling unwanted species and the result is often great fishing. Tiger trout are aggressive and with the record being twenty pounds, a tempting target species.
I’ve never caught a wild tiger trout but my buddy Dan Flynn shared this photo with me. He’s caught two. I guess if I were serious about it I’d target streams where brook and brown trout spawn together and fish small streamers in hopes of finding one but I don’t. Maybe it will happen one day, or maybe not. If it does you’ll hear about it. For now, it’s cool knowing there’s something out there that I haven’t found yet.
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