Can Rainbow Trout Live In Florida? A Needle In A Haystack

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Fisherman smile by rainbow trout, underwater scene.

Rainbow trout in Florida exist in one stocked pond, making them quite uncommon. So, if you’re looking for a majestic mountain stream of cutthroat, brown trout, or brookies, Florida is not your destination. 

As the U.S.’s saltwater destination, your time on the water is better spent chasing speckled sea trout. Better yet, set your sights on coastal billfish, mahi mahi, and tarpon. 

Florida Trout 

Florida trout are rare, available in only one Tallahassee pond. If you’re a Floridian looking to scratch your trout itch, head north to Georgia for the nearest inland trout.

Rainbow Trout 

There is one known pond containing rainbow trout in Tallahassee. Dr. Allee owns a private pond of rainbows stocked annually and they’re available to catch for a price. 

But the rules state you must use at least a 4-weight fly rod and barbless hooks for a quick, safe release. Before Florida’s summer gets too warm for these stockers, the pond is drained to sell trout to local restaurants. 

Speckled And Gator Trout

Also known as spotted sea trout, these are Florida’s main trout attraction. Speckled trout are similar in size to your average inland trout, so they are perfect for beginners or anyone prone to seasickness. You can catch these spotted wonders inshore. 

Speckled trout can still provide entertainment if you’re after a more substantial catch. Their oversized version, which can grow to eight or nine pounds, is known as gator trout

Avoid expensive charters to fish for spotted trout by wading and walking beaches. Search inshore near the mouth of any inlet river or creek to catch speckled trout. 

Joyful lady proudly holds a spotted fish she hooked.

Florida Trout Regulations 

Florida’s trout seasons and regulations apply to their speckled trout and vary by region. Most regions apply a slot limit where anglers can keep spotted trout between 15 and 19 inches. 

But not all regions have identical laws and vary with their bag limits. So before you head out, it’s best to check the laws before you fish in your area. Otherwise, if you’re fishing for rainbows, stick to Dr. Allee’s requirements

Sign: Trout Stream, Surry County, NC.

What States Do Rainbow Trout Live In?

Because of rainbow trout’s durability in transportation and warmer water temperatures, rainbow trout have spread to all 50 U.S. states. 

But not all states have optimal trout habitat, so rainbow trout’s disbursement is uneven. Western and northern states host the most rainbow trout due to their coldwater streams. You can also find rainbow trout in states without moving water in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. 

Related Questions 

Can Rainbow Trout Live In Saltwater? 

1 to 3 years after birth, some rainbow trout migrate from their freshwater birthsite to the ocean. After this migration, rainbow trout are steelhead and take on an anadromous life cycle between fresh and saltwater.

Trout And Hot Weather: How Hot Is Too Hot? 

Trout need water below 65 degrees to thrive and grow. Once that temperature approaches 70 degrees, anglers should head home. 

Studies show rainbow trout surviving in water approaching 80 degrees. But these are critical conditions. Water above 75 degrees is lethal to most trout species. 

Summer heat: 35 degrees! Nature's thermometer.

Are There Brown Trout In Florida?

There are no known records of brown trout in Florida. Don’t hold your breath for any, either. I wouldn’t count on another doctor stocking browns into a private pond. 

Are Rainbow Trout Rare? 

Rainbow trout exist in all 50 U.S. states and in 87 countries. Their expanding region is due to successful stocking that began in the 1880s.

Despite their popularity for thrill and taste, rainbow trout are considered a nuisance in areas where their prevalence impacts native fish.

What Is Florida’s State Fish? 

As a fishing mecca, Florida has two state fish. Their freshwater state fish is a largemouth bass, and their saltwater state fish is a sailfish.

Lone sailfish on plain white backdrop.

Final Thoughts 

Among America’s rainbow trout states, Florida should be your last destination. A Tallahassee doctor owns the only known fishery with rainbow trout.

Though I’m sure this is a perfect place for beginners, there are much better options for rainbow trout throughout the United States.

David Linsmeyer Avatar


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