Fishing for Brown Trout (non-native)


brown trout
CDFW photo by Roger Bloom.
brown trout
CDFW photo by Dave Lass.
  • Only trout in California with both red and black spots on body.
  • Dark spots on the sides typically surrounded by a pale halo.
  • Coloration is usually dark to olive brown on the back, shading to yellow on the sides, and yellow or white on the belly.
  • Large mouth with maxillary extending past the eye in larger fish.
brown trout - back and sides are marked with olive brown to black spots
USFWS illustration by Duane Raver.


man fishing on the upper Owens River
Upper Owens River. CDFW photo by Roger Bloom.
Hot Creek
Hot Creek. CDFW photo.
  • Native to Europe, North Africa, and western Asia.
  • Brought to California in 1893.
  • Introduced widely across the state; now present in a high percentage of suitable waters in the interior of the state, especially on both sides of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
  • Water temperature is an important factor limiting brown trout distribution (preferred temperatures are 12-20ºC).

Angling Information

man holding large spotted fish on river bank
Truckee River. CDFW photo by Jeremy Frost.
small spotted fish held above water
South Fork San Joaquin River. CDFW photo.
  • Brown trout fisheries are widespread and highly variable across the state.
  • Many small, higher-elevation streams offer fast action (>2 fish/hr) brown trout or mixed species fisheries.
  • Larger rivers or reservoirs with naturally spawning populations in tributary streams can offer trophy (>18”) brown trout fisheries.
  • Brown trout are known to be wary and targeting larger fish is widely considered a challenging, yet rewarding fishing opportunity.
  • Due to the wide variety of habitats in which brown trout are found, specific recommendations on fishing techniques and terminal tackle are difficult to provide. Check with local fishing shops in the area you intend to fish to get tips on localized conditions and suggested tackle.

Fisheries Branch
1010 Riverside Parkway, West Sacramento, CA 95605 |