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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Waiting to head over to grandmas for dinner and the game on doesn't interest much...................

There has been some discussion here and on other forums about species, subspecies, and fish (trout) ID. Since the subject interests me, I'm usually eager to share my inflation adjusted 2 cents as are many others. Many such discussions tend to focus on the spotting patterns of the fish. Spots can be a key ID indicator but they are far from infallible. In fact, there is enormous variation among individuals in a given population that sometimes can cause confusion.

Here is a case in point.

I was on the river a few days ago and caught the following 3 brown trout in a fairly short time. These were not caught on redds. While I have read that some of our brown trout have Scottish "Loch Leven" genes in them as well as the usually cited "German brown" lineage, I don't know if there is much credibility to this or if the fish can tell each other apart in the free-for-all happening in the redds come spawning time.

Anyways, I caught this one first.



As you can see, this one has only a few dark spots and they are large and rounded, like a cutt. She also only has 4 or 5 red spots. At first glance, it looked very much like a cutthroat. Closer inspection shows it to obviously be a brown, but I thought it was a cool specimen.

Next, I caught this one.



This one represents the "normal" appearance or phenotype of the browns in the river. Lots of darks spots and abundant red ones too.

Then this.



I've caught a few like this in this river. Here, we have a fish with very pale "dark" spots and an abundant number of small red ones. The dark spots are present, but just aren't very bright. It isn't a seasonal or spawning variation, as I've caught fish like this in the spring as well.

Does anyone think that we have 3 different brown species in this river? Not likely. These and others are just the genetic variety present in our standard brown trout we catch all the time.

Now, if you really want to blow your mind and enjoy an interesting read, get
a copy of "Trout of the World" by James Prosek. It mostly discusses the different races of Brown trout in Europe and the Middle East as well as European char and the Asian taimen and lenok. You may be surprised to know that there is a "Finespotted" brown trout in a lake in Norway, which looks almost exactly like our finespotted cutt. There are also "marmorated" brown trout in multiple locations, which feature the wormlike vermiculation markings that look like brookies and other char. One locale even calls them "tiger trout" although they are very different than the frankenfish tigers we get here and are in fact, fertile, reproducing brown trout. There are also a Zebree pattern fish that looks a bit zebra like and many other oddities.

If the subject interests you, the book could be an idea for your Santa list. Happy Thanksgiving all.
 

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Interesting. I wonder if fish are a little like people and can have different characteristics passed on (freckles, moles, hair colors etc).

I talked to a biologist several years ago about some cutthroat that I had been catching. They should have all been a certain sub-species because of where I was catching them. I knew that the area was an area with some pretty pure strains and that it probably was not an area where different subs would be found. I told him about the different coloration and hues in the fish I was catching. I thought I was catching Snake River or Yellowstone varieties in with the Bonneville. He told me no. The difference in coloration came from habitat and food source. The trout could change color based on what they were eating, how long they had migrated from a larger body of water, and even the color of the substrate on the river bottom. Pretty interesting stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Interesting. I wonder if fish are a little like people and can have different characteristics passed on (freckles, moles, hair colors etc).

I talked to a biologist several years ago about some cutthroat that I had been catching. They should have all been a certain sub-species because of where I was catching them. I knew that the area was an area with some pretty pure strains and that it probably was not an area where different subs would be found. I told him about the different coloration and hues in the fish I was catching. I thought I was catching Snake River or Yellowstone varieties in with the Bonneville. He told me no. The difference in coloration came from habitat and food source. The trout could change color based on what they were eating, how long they had migrated from a larger body of water, and even the color of the substrate on the river bottom. Pretty interesting stuff.
I don't think there is any question that habitat, food, and substrate have a profound influence on appearance. However, I guess the point of my post is that indeed, fish are like people and other critters and have their notable individual variations too. While appearance has more factors than only genetics, a genetic influence must at minimum, have some contribution too. The 3 pictured fish were all caught in an extended series of adjacent runs that all had the same substrate. They were all caught at the same depth. Proximity would suggest that diet should not be radically different. Nevertheless, the fish are all notably different in appearance even though they are all brown trout. One can see the same thing in Strawberry cutts. Look how different the individual spotting is on the next 10 Strawberry cutts one catches.

Here is the link to the book I previously mentioned, if anyone is interested.

http://www.amazon.com/Trout-World-reissue-James-Prosek/dp/1617690236/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1448687814&sr=1-1&keywords=trout+of+the+world
 
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