What is a Heritage Trout?

California’s history, culture, and heritage include one of the most diverse assemblages of native trout forms found in the United States. Over the millennia, twelve different sub-species, or forms of trout evolved to inhabit the wide diversity of habitats found in California, from temperate rain forests, high deserts, large inland rivers, isolated lake basins, to mountain streams. The same forces that shaped our landscape played a hand in contributing unique characteristics to each of our native trout. Adaptations to hydrological, ecological, and climatic conditions have resulted in an astounding variety of size, coloration and life history patterns.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife uses the term “heritage trout” to describe native trout that have existed in California since prehistoric times. To be considered a “heritage trout” it must be found in its historic watershed.


We are committed to protecting and restoring our native trout. The Heritage Trout Program was established to:

  • Increase public awareness about the beauty, diversity, historical significance, and special values of California’s native trout and their habitats
  • Build public support and increase public involvement in native trout restoration efforts
  • Promote collaborative efforts with organizations and individuals involved with native trout restoration and management
  • Diversify opportunities to fish for, observe and enjoy native trout in their historic habitats

It is important that we leave our wild, native trout legacy for future generations of Californians to experience. A vital part of restoring our native trout is protecting and improving the high quality habitats they need to survive.

Golden Trout underwater in Golden Trout Creek
Golden Trout in Golden Trout Creek. CDFW Photo.


Heritage and Wild Trout Program

CDFW Fisheries Branch
Attn: Heritage and Wild Trout Program
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090