Find out all about the wildest and strongest Patagonia’s trouts.
All of Patagonia salmonids are exotic species, including Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) that were introduced here, from North America in the early 1900s for sport fishing. It has a small head and a long body, with a bright blue or green color on its flanks, and a silver white color on its abdomen. In the middle of each side it has a longitudinal striking red stripe, inspiring their name. This color is typical of the species, but it may vary from one trout to another, and even disappear in some of them.
The anadromous form called "steelhead" migrate to the ocean, though they must return to fresh water to reproduce, do not necessarily die after spawning (they may spawn as many as four times). River resident rainbow trout are generally darker and more brilliant. They always have dark spots on their heads, backs, bellies and across their dorsal fins and caudal fins. Rainbows occur in well-oxygenated lakes and streams where the temperature normally doesn't rise above 12°C in summer. There is also an important variability as regards color in relation to the spawning season, having mature specimen a darker and brighter pigmentation.
It is possible to find it in almost every river and lake in the province of Neuquén, and it is highly appreciated by anglers for its combativeness and size. Rainbows range from 12 to 36 inches in length, reaching as much 10 kg. in lake environments. It feeds on insects, mollusks, crustaceans and fish.
Brown Trout (Salmo trutta) is probably the most popular Salmonidae among anglers, since it lives in hardly accessible environments, in places difficult to reach with a fly, adding to this its characteristics, such as evasive, unpredictable, aggressive, and enormously cunning, which makes it really difficult to catch.
They are generally olive-green to steely blue in color with a silvery white belly. The sides are lighter in color and there are numerous spots over the upper body, head and tail. In rivers, its loin is darker brown, with a golden brown color on the flanks and a white yellowish tone in the abdomen, with spots scattered on the body: green and brown on the upper part, and on both sides they mingle with red dots wrapped in pale circles.
The brown trout were stocked from Europe and Chile. Prefer cold, this species has a somewhat higher temperature preference of about 60-65 F°, or 15.5 - 18.3 C°), well-oxygenated upland waters, especially large streams in mountainous areas. Cover is important to trout, and they are more likely to be found where there are submerged rocks, undercut banks, and overhanging vegetation.
The brown trout is a medium sized fish, growing to 20 kg or more in some localities although in many smaller rivers a mature weight of 1 kg (2 lb) or less is common. May live for several years although, there is a high proportion of death of males after spawning and probably fewer than 20% of female recover from spawning. The migratory forms grow to significantly larger sizes and may live longer. Brown trout are active both by day and by night and are opportunistic feeders. While in fresh water, the diet will frequently include invertebrates from the streambed, small fish, frogs, and insects flying near the water's surface. The high dietary reliance upon insect larvae, pupae, nymphs and adults is what allows trout to be a favoured target for fly fishing.
The spawning behaviour of brown trout is similar to that of the closely related Atlantic salmon. A typical female produces about 2,000 eggs per kilogram (900 eggs per pound) of body weight at spawning. Brown trout rarely form hybrids, almost invariably infertile, with other species. One such example is the tiger trout, a hybrid with the brook trout.
Brook trout (Salvelinus Fontinalis) were introduced Patagonia from USA and they are generally found in cool fresh water of the rivers, small streams, creeks, lakes and spring ponds in the North-west area of Patagonia.
The Brook Trout is very beautiful and voracious, and it changes its color according to the food it eats. It is of dark green to brown basic colouration with a distinctive marbled pattern (called vermiculations) of lighter shades across the back and flanks and extending at least to the dorsal fin, and often to the tail. There is a distinctive sprinkling of red dots, surrounded by blue haloes, along the flank. The belly and lower fins are reddish in colour, the latter with white leading edges. Often the belly, particularly of the males, becomes very red or orange when the fish are spawning. Brook trout prefers cool, clear waters of high purity and a narrow ph range in lakes, rivers, and streams, being sensitive to poor oxygenation, pollution, and changes in pH caused by environmental effects. Its diverse diet includes crustaceans, frogs and other amphibians, insects, mollucs, smaller fish, and even small mammals such as mices. The brook trout is a short-lived species, rarely surviving beyond four or five years in the wild.
Since it prefers colder waters rich in oxygen, its distribution is restricted with respect to the other types of trout, being better represented to the west of the province of Neuquén in mountainous environments. As regards size, it is the smallest of the Salmonidae in Neuquén, and only occasionally surpasses 4 kg. in lake environments.
Native of Lake Sebago, it was introduced at the beginning of the century, about 1906, in numerous river and lakes. Today it is only found in some of them. It is silver color, with blue head and back, black spots on the flanks and dark dorsal fins with blue stripes. It is easily taken for a brown trout, but it has a smaller mouth, since its maxillary does not usually surpass the back rim of the eye.
Atlantic salmon, known scientifically as Salmo salar, is a species of fish in the family Salmonidae, which is found in the northern Atlantic Ocean and in rivers that flow into the Atlantic and the Pacific and were introduced in North-western Patagonia starting in 1904.
Most Atlantic salmon follow an anadromous fish migration pattern, in that they undergo their greatest feeding and growth in salt water, but adults return to spawn in native freshwater streams where the eggs hatch and juveniles grow through several distinct stages. The average size of Atlantic salmon is 28-30 inches (71-76 cm) long and 8-12 pounds (3.6-5.4 kg) after two years at sea. Although uncommon, adults can grow to be as large as 30 pounds (13.6 kg). Atlantic salmon do not require salt water, however, exist numerous examples of fully freshwater ("landlocked") such as in Patagonia, after the construction of large dam.
After hatching, young salmon begin a feeding response within a couple days. After the yolk sac is absorbed by the body, they begin to hunt. Juveniles start with tiny invertebrates, but as they mature they may occasionally eat small fishes. During this time they hunt both in the substrate, and also those in the current. Some have been known to also eat salmon eggs. The most commonly eaten foods include caddisflies, blackflies, mayflies, and stoneflies. While they may occasionally be aggressive towards each other, the social hierarchy is still unclear. Adult Atlantic salmon are considered much more aggressive than other salmon and are more likely to attack other fish than others.