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Q & A
Wild vs. Stocked Trout Coloring
Question
I've been told that you can tell a wild trout from a stocked one by the color of their flesh and if they have a hooked jaw or not. Wild trout are supposed to be more reddish looking but stocked trout are whiter or paler. And I was always told that only wild trout grew large lower jaws. I caught a big trout with a hooked jaw, but it was white. So what type of trout did I catch, a stocked one or was it a wild one?
Answer
For trout, the pigment of their flesh and outward coloration is largely influenced by their diet. For example, carotenoids (color pigments) found in crustaceans such as; crayfish and freshwater shrimp are largely responsible for the red, pink and orange pigments that you find when examining fish flesh. Trout that do not have access to these types of food items would typically lack this pigmentation.

Hatchery trout are typically more bland in coloration in comparison to their wild cousins. This is primarily due to the fact that they are fed a formulated diet that does not include the many of the food items that provide the color pigments found in nature and more readily available to a trout foraging in the wild.

Secondary sex characteristics such as, the kype on the lower jaw of a large male trout will develop in older and larger trout regardless of their origin. These characteristics are due to physiological changes in the fish as it matures and are not related to specific items in their diet.

From your description, it would appear most likely the trout you caught originated from a hatchery.

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