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CaseyPNovember 20th, 2006, 5:50 pm
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653

okay, got another "whazzat fish?" question

Holmes Run, suburban Washington, D. C. stocked stream. landed an 11 incher yesterday that was golden below the lateral line, silver and the usual dots above, with a rosy stripe like a rainbow. trout mouth and shape, fins in the right places.

fellow on the local TU bulletin board says he and a buddy got a couple in the Hughes.

there is no carry-over in Holmes Run--in fact we think most of the fish go into someone's dinner within a couple weeks of the stocking.

any fisheries biologists out there familiar with VA and its hatcheries?
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
GONZONovember 20th, 2006, 6:35 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hi Casey,

I don't know the specifics about your VA fish, but a number of domestic strain rainbows have been bred by hatcheries to produce "golden" or "palomino" stock. The first of these that I'm aware of was the West Virginia Centennial "golden trout." This stock was later used to produce the old PA "palomino" (a blonde rainbow) but the state has recently turned to producing the brighter "golden" version. These fish lack any spotting, but the "goldens" retain a pinkish to orangish band.

Your fish could be a back-cross between a normally colored domestic strain and one of the yellow rainbows. It could also be a domestic redband strain that retains more color in the hatchery (perhaps enhanced by diet). Many redband strains display a yellow shading on the lower sides and belly, especially in mature (spawning age) fish.
Some domestic strains achieve this color as holdovers, but since you indicate that this doesn't occur in this stream, the prior possibilities are more likely. Personally, I'm hoping for the second possibility (the mutant mykiss strains are cartoon fish that serve no real purpose other than to advertise state stocking), but I suspect the first is more likely.

PS--Afterthought. Here's a scenario that is worth considering. Even though you claim no carry-over in the Holmes, I've never meet a domestic rainbow that didn't have a wanderlust. They stray into the most unusual places--up into tiny tribs and down into big rivers (or even the ocean). Somewhere in their cloudy gene pool they still retain the ancestral memory of the big lake or ocean that once was home to their distant kin. I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that a colored-up holdover strayed into the Holmes or perhaps was a returning escapee.
GONZONovember 20th, 2006, 7:16 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Hey Casey-

Just had a wild thought. You didn't happen to notice if the trout you caught had an orange slash under its chin, did you? Admittedly, it's a far-fetched idea, but I know that they experimented a while back with introducing cutthroats into the upper Potomac (one of the branches). I even heard that they had some modest success, but I don't know if the program has continued.

Sometimes when a state discontinues a stocking program they dump the remaining stock wherever it's convenient (or even sell it to another state). Something similar happened a few years back on the Brodheads. Suddenly a whole pile of domestic tiger trout showed up in the lower end. We thought they might have come from a club well upstream, but it didn't really make sense. Turns out that the state decided to discontinue their limited production of tigers and just dumped the remaining stock. Not at all likely, but who knows?
CaseyPNovember 21st, 2006, 10:33 am
Arlington, VA/ Mercersburg, PA

Posts: 653

it could have. it was late and my hands were nearly too cold to get the fly out. i do remember thinking "cuthroat" at the time and then thinking--nope, rainbow delicious.

i'll go on back and see if he'll entertain me once more and i'll remember the camera.

and thinking of where he was found, that particular hole is sheltered from the southwest sun and is pretty deep and is next a much nicer pool...but a mile further on the whole run, as i saw on google-earth, dumps into a great big storm-water ditch arrangement that us usually all but dry.
"You can observe a lot by watching." Yogi Berra
GONZONovember 21st, 2006, 11:04 am
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681

I'd love to see a picture. It should make it pretty easy to rule out some of the possibilities. Good luck!

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