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Evaluating A New Rainbow Trout Strain For Vermont

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is again stocking a new strain of rainbow trout and is looking for help from anglers to evaluate its performance.

“Vermont stocks about 115,000 rainbow trout annually into inland rivers and lakes to provide recreational fishing opportunities for the public,” said State Fisheries Biologist Lee Simard.  “We are evaluating the new Eagle Lake strain of rainbow trout against our traditionally stocked Erwin-Arlee strain to ensure we are providing the highest quality fishery possible with these stocked trout.  The Eagle Lake strain is currently stocked in many states including Maine and Michigan and could be a great fit for Vermont as well.”

The two strains are the same species, but genetic differences can impact their behavior and performance.  Both strains will be stocked side-by-side into 12 waterbodies across Vermont and will be compared based on their catchability, survivability and growth to see if the Eagle Lake Strain performs better after stocking.  

The two strains look very similar but can be identified by a clipped ventral fin, the paired fins found on the underside of the fish about halfway along its body.  A missing left fin indicates the new Eagle Lake strain while a missing right fin indicates the Erwin-Arlee strain.

“To help us evaluate the new Eagle Lake strain, we are asking anglers to report to us the rainbow trout they catch from the waterbodies included in this evaluation,” said Simard.  “Take a picture of the trout that clearly shows the missing fin.  Then submit that picture and catch report on the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department website or by using the Vermont Outdoors app on your smartphone.  Over half of our results in 2023 came from reports submitted directly by anglers.  These reports are critical and will directly influence our management of stocked rainbow trout in Vermont.”

This is the final year the two strains will be stocked as part of this evaluation.  A final decision about which strain will continue to be stocked in Vermont will be made in 2025.

Additional information and a complete list of the waterbodies included in the evaluation can be found on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website  https://vtfishandwildlife.com/fish/fishing-events-and-programs/rainbow-trout-strain-evaluation

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