Natives of the Pacific Coast, rainbow trout were introduced into New York waters in the 1870s. Like brown trout, rainbows are more tolerant of warm water than the native trout and are found throughout the State.
In New York, there are two types of rainbows. The first, simply called rainbow, is found mostly in medium to large streams or small to medium size lakes. The second, called steelhead, is only found in lakes Champlain, Ontario and Erie and their tributaries. This anadromous (spawn in streams but live most of life at sea) fish uses these large lakes as their sea.
Rainbow trout are often very colorful fish. They have gray-blue to greenish backs and light colored sides with dark spots. Rainbows get their name from the pink or red band often present on their sides. During spawning, this band turns a deep red. Like other trout, adult rainbows tend to be more silvery when living in large lakes like the Great Lakes.
Quite variable in size, mature rainbow trout may weigh one or two pounds in streams and more than 15 pounds in the Great Lakes. Whether the fish is small or large, fishing for rainbow trout is a popular pastime for many New York anglers. Not quite as wary as brown trout, rainbows often put up spectacular fights when hooked, frequently making a series of acrobatic jumps.
More information can be found at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.