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Rainbow Trout
(Oncorhynchus mykiss)
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When boating, regardless of water depth, wear a PFD!

Description Regulations Habitat Records

Gamefish in the Chicago Area include:

  • Fishing for these requires a trout stamp in addition to your fishing license.


The rainbow trout has a faint pink line across the side of it's body, a white mouth, black spots on it's back and entire tail, 9 to 12 anal fin rings, and a square tail. The rainbow and the steelhead are the same species, differing only in spawning behavior. The rainbow spends it's entire life in streams, while the steelhead migrates to a stream to spawn after living in a ocean or large lake. Rainbow trout feed on insects and fish. Many spawn in early spring with eggs laid in gravel at the head of a riffle area, but some spawn in the fall. Rainbow trout normally do not die after spawning like some trout. Rainbow trout prefer water temperatures in the 50's. While some can grow quite large, the average is 5 pounds. May through August are the best months for catching rainbow trout.

Please check the fishing advisories for information.


Statewide, the daily creel limit is 5 trout or salmon, either singly or in the aggregate. No more than 5 fish of any one species (except for lake trout where 2 fish is the daily creek limit). For all trout and Salmon species the minimum length is 10 inches. Remember to check for site specific regulations. Site specific limits

Habitat, habits and breeding

For much more information on breeding, habits and habitat, you can read the entire U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for Rainbow Trout This link is a scanned photocopy of the actual reports used by your local government to decide what fish to stock in particular locations. The reports are normally printed on heavy stock blue paper (You'll see the paper reflecting in the background of the scans. Warning: This report is nearly 4 meg in size and will require you to have Adobe Acrobat installed to view properly.


Illinois record: 31lb. 6.72

North American Record: 37lb. 0oz

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