Are There Really Any Trash Fish?

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Golden Rainbow Trout "Palomino Trout" - Photo By: Louis Cahill

I don’t know about you but if a fish will eat a fly I generally have no problem fly fishing for it. And I don’t consider there to be any trash fish, because they all provide enjoyment and opportunity for anglers to learn. Some people out there I’m sure would argue if it’s not completely wild, they don’t want any part. That’s cool with me and I understand where they’re coming from, I just don’t think and feel that way in my fly fishing. Heck, I remember when I was in middle school I actually got a real kick out of catching big channel catfish in my best friends farm pond with woolly buggers. Back then, it was all about getting my rod bent and watching that fly line being pulled off the reel. There was nothing pretty or serene about landing those catfish. Trash fish or not, I didn’t care because I was in it for the fight, and a 6-12 pound catfish puts up a good fight on a 5 weight fly rod. Furthermore, it was still more sporting than me breaking out my spinning rod, bobber and can of chicken livers like most kids my age.

Take the golden rainbow trout, a.k.a. “Palomino Trout”, that you can find in North Carolina for instance. Many fly anglers would jump on the bandwagon to call it a trash fish. It looks like a Koi Asian Goldfish at first glance, but it’s actually a real rainbow trout created through selective breeding. It originated from a single rainbow trout that was spawned in the fall of 1954 in West Virginia. Apparently a female rainbow trout was caught that carried a rare genetic mutation giving her a pale golden color. It was then spawned with a normal colored male rainbow trout and the palomino trout was created.

For fly anglers out there that haven’t had the opportunity to fish for this rare species of rainbow trout I highly recommend it. Particularly, if your one of those know it all anglers out there, who’s laughing at the notion and shouting trash fish. Please come visit me, and I’ll gladly point you in the right direction. I’d love to witness your frustrations and vulgar language coming out of your mouth when you fail to land the majority of the palomino’s you sight fish to.

Fly fishing for palomino trout. Photo By: Louis Cahill

Palomino trout are often a real challenge to catch on the fly. They honestly humble most anglers, and can be the toughest trout in the river to catch at times. You can easily spot them in the river but you usually have a hard time catching them. Because of this I think they make a great species for fly fishermen to chase after. They seem to be hard wired differently from other trout and carry their own unique behaviors. They often sit high in the water column and regularly ignore flies drifted in front them. Persistence is my best advice to anglers searching out this unique trout. You better be ready to change flies and switch fly fishing methods to increase your chances at landing one of them.  When you do though, you’ll be rewarded with the opportunity to view a trout up close that looks different from anything you’ve caught in the past. It’s really a pretty cool experience.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline

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8 thoughts on “Are There Really Any Trash Fish?

  1. We get some of those stocked in the Guadalupe down here each year. A buddy of mine affectionately calls them “banana trout.” I’ve yet to land my first since they are so tough. Definitely not trash fish; they’re probably called that by people who get frustrated that they’re unable to catch them!

  2. Right on Matt,

    Try swinging your nymphs at the end of your drift. I hear they have a sweet tooth for emerging bugs. Also try swinging and stripping a flashy streamer or a standard black woolly bugger. We’ve had great success dead drifting streamers in their face followed by quick strip down and across. This often will trigger a reflex chase and strike. Of course, some days none of that works and you just have to change flies and be persistent.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Kent Klewein

  3. You can thank my great state of West Virginia for the elusive “Nanner” trout. Engineered with a purpose. To serve as a marker fish for those looking for stocked trout in WV. Not that the state didn’t make it easy enough to find them. They are tuff to catch, initially aggressive but quickly turning very cautious after the first inspection. Its like they instinctively know they stick out like a sore thumb. Take them out of the hatchery and put them in a stream for about 6 weeks and you will have one the prettiest looking trout you will ever see.

    • Murphy,

      Thank you for chiming in for all the West Virginians out there. I love your belief they made palamino’s so anglers could find where the stocked fish are. They do a very good job of that don’t they 🙂 Hope to fish with you soon man. Let’s plan our NY trip as well. Need to mark off the dates on my calendar.


  4. Ain’t never heard of no trash fish round these parts. Cept maybe for them cats… leader slimin good fer nuthins…
    Actually, I agree. Anything that’ll eat a fly is good sport. I took my nephews smallmouth fishing once and all they caught were bluegill. They called them trash fish until I asked how many fish they would’ve caught today if it were for those trashy gills… They changed their opinion. Good kids.

  5. I was fishing the delayed harvest section of the Warauga river near the Boone/Linville area a couple of years ago and stumbled upon one. Bot was I excited to see that fish. I ever so quietly snuck up on the fish and landed a delicate presentation to it. It chased my fly for a second but the. Went back to its spot. I figure if I could get a drift just a little bit closer I’d nail it. Sure enough, what do I do on my next cast? Make a sloppy and lazy presentation, slap the water about 2 feet in front of it and get to watch it dart into he depths of the river. Ugh I was so disappointed. Haven’t seen one since.

    Definitely not a trash fish!

  6. We get a lot of these in Pennsylvania, and I find that because of their visibility, they are easy to target and catch.

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