Flanks and belly silvery, back bluish-green. Black spots on back, head,
and tail are small in size. Most rainbows have a pink or red side stripe.
The native trout of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada, rainbows can
be found from the edge of the Central Valley to high mountain lakes. This
trout is most active in water temperatures of 55 to 65 degrees F. A variety
of insects and small fish make up the bulk of the rainbow trout's diet.
The most active feeding period for this trout is at sunrise and near dusk.
At the lower elevations, anglers will find spring and fall the best seasons
for rainbow trout fishing.
White or silver belly with yellow flanks. Back is dark to olive-brown.
Only trout in California with both red and black spots. No distinct side
First introduced in California in 1894, brown trout have become abundant
throughout the state. They feed on insects, crayfish, and other fish,
including their own young. Because they grow quickly and are naturally
wary, this trout can become quite large. Brown trout prefer water temperatures
between 45 and 65 degrees F. In the warm months of the year they stay
in the cooler, deeper areas of lakes and rivers. Brown trout are very
competitive and tend to crowd out other fish, including other trout. The
meat of this trout is often pink and is excellent eating.
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Lahontan Cutthroat Trout
Back, sides, and belly yellow-red, large black spots over entire body
except head. Bottom of gills have two distinct red stripes on each side.
This cutthroat sub-species, native to the Truckee, Carson, and Walker
River systems, is classified by the California Department of Fish and
Game as a threatened species. Lahontan cutthroat prefer cold water lakes
and rivers and feed on insects and smaller fish. Like other trout, cutthroats
bite best in the early morning and evening hours. Although now uncommon,
Lahontan cutthroat were at one time fished commercially in Lake Tahoe
and Pyramid Lake, Nevada.
To seperate trout from salmon, count the number of rays in the anal fin
near the tail. Trout have 9 to 12 rays (rarely 13). Salmon occasionally
have 12 usually 13 or more.
Chinook (also known as King salmon) have a dark coloring on the crown
of the gums around the teeth of the lower jaw. There are usually large,
angular black spots on the back and spots on both lobes of the tail.
Coho (also known as Silver salmon) have a whitish coloring around the
teeth on the lower gums, with the rest of the mouth lining being darker.
There are usually spots on the back and upper lobe of the tail, but none
on the lower lobe.
The salmon is at the heart of Pacific Northwest Native American culture
and also a key industry of the region's whites; its ability to return,
after swimming thousands of miles in the open Pacific, to the stream in
which it hatched made it seem supernatural to Native Americans; whites
saw in the same ability economic opportunity for the fishing industry.
Coho and chinook salmon feed on a variety of insects, cladocerans, and
small fish. Salmon eventually stop feeding as they migrate to stream spawning
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Upper jaw extends past the rear margin of the eye. Back is dark green
with silver-green sides and belly. Single dark side-stripe (latteral line).
Introduced into California in 1874 from their native Mississippi River
system, largemouth bass have become common in most warm water lakes and
rivers in the state. Largemouth bass are mainly fish eaters, although
they will feed on crayfish and frogs. Active at water temperatures above
50 degrees F, largemouth bite best when the water warms up to above 60
degrees F. Adult bass tend to establish a home area with a rock or submerged
tree or shrub at the center.
Upper jaw does not extend beyond rear edge of eye. Sides and back are
green to dark olive-brown with white belly and faint, light-colored side
stripe (latteral line).
Similar in appearance to the largemouth bass, smallmouth is even native
to the same area, the Mississippi River system. This bass prefers slightly
cooler water than the largemouth, so they tend to concentrate near the
upper end of most lakes. Young smallmouth bass feed on insects, while
adult smallmouth usually eat other types of fish or even their own kind.
Smallmouth bass are not as solitary as largemouth and will group together
in a favored area.
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Irregular lateral stripe is similar to, but more broken than largemouth
bass. When mouth is closed, jaw does not extend beyond the back margin
of the eye. Spots on scales form "rows" of stripes on the whitish belly
Silvery body with 6 to 8 black horizontal lines from the rear of the gills
to the tail. Streamlined body.
Introduced into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from the East Coast of
the U.S. in 1879, striped bass are now found from the Mexican border to
southern British Columbia. When planted in lakes, striped bass must be
replanted to maintain satisfactory fishing. Striped bass bite best as
the water cools in the fall. Since this bass needs moving water to spawn,
they concentrate near inflowing streams and rivers during the spring spawn.
Striped bass feed mostly on smaller fish, although they will eat other
forms of aquatic life.
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Dark blue or blackish spot on gill cover. Small mouth with small sharp
teeth. Dark green back and sides with iridescent purple sheen. Many adult
bluegill have a dark spot at base or dorsal fin.
Originally introduced into California waters in 1908, bluegill have become
a favorite of many anglers. Although considered by most to be a warm water
fish, bluegill populations exist in lakes as high as 5,000 feet in the
Sierra Nevada. Bluegill feed on insects and small fish, with the most
active feeding occurring in mid-afternoon and shortly after dusk. Even
in large lakes, this sunfish stays within a small area for its entire
life. Because bluegill reproduce rapidly and in large numbers, they can
quickly overcrowd their habitat. For this reason, heavy fishing is desirable.
Silvery-white, with dark green or black mottling in the form of vertical
bars on sides. Mouth large, with transparent sides when extended.
White crappie are common in warm water lakes and rivers throughout the
state. They are a schooling fish, and the schools tend to stay within
one area. Schools remain near logs or boulders during the day and may
move out to open water in the evening. White crappie feed on minute aquatic
life as well as on insects and fish. This fish, like many warm water species,
become inactive in the fall when water temperatures cool. Although usually
small in size, crappie, when hooked, fight hard and are good eating.
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Silvery-white, with black mottling on sides. Similar to white crappie,
except the black crappie lacks the vertical bar pattern in the side mottling.
Black crappie may be found in most large, clear lakes in California. They
prefer lakes with large areas of aquatic vegetation. Black crappie, lilke
white crappie, congregate in schools around large submerged objects during
the day and venture into open water at dusk and dawn. This crappie feeds
upon insects and fish as well as minute forms of water life. Black crappie
are most active when the water temperature is between 55 and 70 degrees
Strong resemblance to crappie, although they are somewhat huskier. Colors
range from black and darker greens thru a purplish-red hue.
The Sacramento Perch is really not a perch at all. It's actually a sunfish
that was once native to most of what is now known as the Sacramento\San
Joaquin delta, and disbursed all the way up to Clear Lake. Sacramento
Perch are usually caught on accident by anglers fishing for bass or crappie.
They tend to occupy weedy shorelines in depths to twenty feet or so, and
feed on insects, small crustaceans, as well as small minnows. Some lakes
you may come across this fiesty fish are: Crowley Lake, Clear Lake, and
also Lake Almanor in Plumas County.
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Sides and back are gray, with white belly. Head large with long dark barbels.
Forked tail with rounded tips.
Originally native to the coastal river systems of the eastern United States,
white catfish were planted near Stockton in 1874. From this one introduction,
white catfish have spread throughout the state. This catfish is most common
in slow-moving rivers and in lakes with mud bottoms. White catfish feed
mostly on the bottom where they eat other fish and aquatic insects. They
prefer warm water and only spawn in water above 70 degrees F. White catfish
feed most actively at dusk and through the night.
Bluish-gold sides with white belly. Small dark spots on sides with deeply
forked tail. Head is small in relation to body.
Originally found in the Mississippi River system, channel catfish were
successfully introduced into California waters in the 1940s. Although
this catfish does well in many muddy, dirt bottom lakes, it prefers a
clear warm water lake with a sandy bottom. Channel catfish grow and bite
best when the water temperature is above 70 degrees but will tolerate
lower temperatures. They feed on insects, fish, and small amounts of plant
material. Like other catfish, channel cats feed most actively at dusk
and at night.
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Back is dark olive-brown, silvery sides and belly. Young have dark spot
at base of tail. Slender body.
This large native minnow has fooled many anglers after taking a lure or
bait intended for bass or trout. Because this fish looks like a slender
trout, the angler thinks he has hooked a big one - until the fish is in
the net. Although considered by many as too bony to eat, squawfish were
an important part of the diet of California Indians and early settlers.
Body gold-green with large scales. Two barbels hang from the rear of the
Introduced into North America from Asia in the late 1800s, carp have since
become common in many rivers and lakes in this country. Carp feed and
are active at temperatures as low as 40 degrees F, although they do best
at about 74 degrees. Carp eat plant and animal material which they stir
up by rooting around in the bottom mud. This fish is one of the few fresh
water fish in California which are harvested commercially. Carp bite on
dough balls or corn and when hooked will give the angler a good fight.