Golden Trout (Palomino)
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A VERY RARE MASSACHUSETTS GOLDEN PALOMINO TROUT

August 20, 2011

I woke up to a headache and feeling a bit under the weather. I figured it might have been from being out a little too late last night and from lack of sleep and thought I could probably shake it all off after some coffee and food in my stomach. After doing so I was feeling a bit better but my energy levels were still down and on this solo trip the thought of loading the rods, tackle, battery, electric motor, canoe and the rest of the days gear into the pick-up seemed too troublesome (at least for today anyway). But it was Saturday, which in my world translates as time to go fishing. I was undecided as to where to go since I had not loaded the canoe into the truck but had my rods and tackle. I had a pit stop to make anyway before I could wet a line and figured I could decide exactly where I would be shore fishing during the drive. Then I thought about that dumb little palomino fish I couldn’t catch last week, but in reality the fish was smart, at least enough not to get hooked. I was supposed to go straight on the highway and ended up making a turn and heading toward the spring fed pond I fished last week and completely blew off the pit stop, I had a purchase that I was going to make but decided at the last minute it would have to wait. As I make my way to the pond all I could think is am I really about to pursue this not so dumb fish again. But then I figured it cant hurt to walk around the pond and see if the palomino rainbow has exposed itself out in the open, if not I’ll just take a couple of casts, leave, run my errand and then fish elsewhere. As I glanced at the water I noticed the rain from the previous day had stained the water a bit, giving it a partial muddy look. There would be no sight fishing for numbers of fish today in this stained water but it was okay, I was really only seeking one particular fish anyway, one that with it’s gold coloration would still stand out if it hung out just below the surface (as they sometimes do). I couldn’t figure out anymore if I truly was there for another opportunity to fish for a rare trout or if I was really there for vindication or maybe a bit of both. Regardless either way I had to locate this fish first in order to have any real chance of catching it. And it was not looking good, I had already scanned one side of the pond and couldn’t spot it, while doing so I took a couple of casts and landed a rainbow trout in the process. I quickly released in doing so I had no enthusiasm over the catch I just made. As I walked over to the other side of the pond I told myself this is getting old if I couldn’t locate the golden trout on this side either I would just leave. Half way down the other side of the bank I noticed it out in a small patch of open water surrounded by weeds. The same exact scenario as last week (this too was also getting old). I baited up a hook with a mealworm, added a bobber, aimed at the open patch and made the cast. Too make a long story short it was a cat and mouse game for a couple of hours. I’d cast out all kinds of morsels of food; she would investigate and turn away. The same old, same old. I was equally stubborn with not giving up as she was with not accepting my hook. While trying to catch the golden I incidentally caught 2 regular rainbows. I had run out of bait options and exhausted every idea I could think of. At one point she did mouth the bait and immediately spit it out without ever submerging the bobber one bit. I thought maybe she could feel the hook, so I down sized to an even smaller hook size and put on a fresh mealworm (again). She approached and I expected her to turn away but this time she took the bobber completely under and I set the hook and surprisingly she was on. I would have to drag her over the surface of the weeds to land her or risk having her and my line caught up in the salad and loosing her. As she was being draped over the vegetation I could see flashes of gold and pink thrashing on the surface. She was 3 quarters of the way in from shore but then she came unbuttoned. I was disgusted and in disbelief. She had gone down deep and faded into the muddy stained water. I thought that was it, I won’t see her again and if by miracle she reappears she will not feed or take a hook again. She’s been too educated now. I said to myself I quit, it’s pointless to try any further now. I began to grab my tackle bag and organize all the contents in it. I then grabbed all my stuff and threw it all in the truck. I went back to make sure I didn’t forget anything before leaving (about 15 minutes had passed) and I noticed the golden trout had reappeared again but this time in open water adjacent to the weed line. I rushed back to the truck grabbed my rod and quickly put on a spinner, that I have caught countless rainbows on, had confidence in and threw it at her. She seemed to show an interest in it and then looked really excited about taking the lure and looked like she was becoming more aggressive and about to do so but then I ran out of real estate. I re-casted and the same scenario happened again, I tried slowing the retrieve on the following cast but she reacted by showing little interest. So I picked up the speed of the retrieve again on the next cast and she began to show an interest again but still not grabbing it before it reached the shore. On the 7th cast the spinner was only under the water for a couple of feet before she lunged at it and hooked herself again, this time I carefully played her until she tired and I was able to slip her out of the water. I had finally caught it and she was in my hands. I could not believe she would even consider striking at anything after being hooked earlier and after all those previous refusals; just like that she struck it. I admired the trout's brilliant colors and in doing so realized that there was no need to continue fishing. I finally felt satisfied and vindicated. My little goal had been met and on this note this would be how I end the days fishing and head home wondering what the next target I choose will be, fishing is what you make of it. Hope is what gets you out on the water but it’s persistence that usually delivers. Tight Lines All - George!

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August 06, 2011

On Wednesday while I was at work a good friend of mine Ray was fishing and sent me a text and a picture message on my cell phone. The picture was of a rainbow trout and the text read: Gold trout spotted. I called up my friend later on that evening to see if he had any further luck. He had reported just the one rainbow and he mentioned the golden trout would not bite at anything.

The pond he had fished is one we both know well, that I will keep nameless. It offers the usual assortment of warm water game fish but also provides a year round trout fishery. The pond is fairly shallow but contains a few deeper pockets and is able to sustain some trout even in the peak heat of the summer, courtesy of a spring feeding cold water into the pond. An essential ingredient for trout survival. It's one of very few places I know where I can sight fish for trout, even during the summer. The pond does not receive a whole lot of pressure in the summer months. The pond is nicely tucked and hidden away. Though I’m happy to share spots, especially with friends. This is one of those rare gems I like to keep mostly to myself, a tranquil spot away from the crowds and slob fishermen who love leaving a trail of their trash everywhere they go and kill every trout they catch. I realize not everyone is like that and allot of the local guys are ethical fishermen but that's hard to determine with strangers over the internet. Not to mention I've been sworn to secrecy and also burned in the past for sharing spots.

Though it’s a public pond it is not stocked by the state but is stocked annually with trout by a private hatchery. Which is how the golden trout got in there. Unfortunately only 1-3 golden palomino trout are stocked per year. Both Ray and I have been fortunate to have each caught one here in past seasons. Our state does not raise and stock golden palomino trout, which makes landing one out of our state public waters a rarity. I no longer live near this pond anymore and rarely fish it but ironically the next day I happened to be in the area for a doctor’s appointment. When I left the appointment I decided to fish that evening before dark. Shore fishing for coldwater fish in the prime summer heat of August, primarily for one trout in particular, that I find to be extremely fickle. It seemed a bit of an impossibility for success. But being in my old neck of the woods and not too far from the pond I decided to head over to it and see if I could spot the golden trout and try my luck at it. When I got there I did not initially spot the golden trout. When not in the weeds hiding the fish can easily be spotted. Its shimmering bright gold appearance sticks out and it can be seen across the pond. However I was disappointed I could not locate it but still I was enjoying the evening and having fun catching a variety of other fish. After about an hour into it and walking around the pond again I finally spotted the golden trout. It was a small fish but beautiful. I had caught one 5 years ago and remember how difficult it was to catch and how finicky the fish was. I also remember it taking me 3 weeks (3-4 short trips per week) to catch it; it didn’t help me any that it was blind in one eye. Anyway I grabbed my ultra-light rod and threw out a small spinner, which it hardly noticed and then I began experimenting with other small lures but I could only get it to give an occasional half follow at best and then it would snub it’s nose at my lure and swim away. Beneath the golden trout I could see dark shadows on occasion. Which I later learned were rainbow trout after hooking a few while trying to catch the golden. The golden was swimming right above the spring and going back in fourth in this one little area, following the school of rainbows but staying above them most of the time.

It was beginning to look like a reenactment of the last golden trout hunt, watching the fish refuse every tactic I presented. I even got desperate and looked for worms under rocks and insects. I was looking for anything I could impale on a hook. I noticed when I casted out a small freshly caught worm that it immediately rushed over but put the breaks on when it got close to the bait and snubbed me again by turning away and swimming off. I did get the golden to finally suck in the bait after what seemed like a million casts but it spit out the bait before I could set the hook. I could remember the frustration I had gone through with the last golden trout I caught and thought; this is no different, here I go again. I also had hooked a handful of rainbows but with most coming un-buttoned, adding even more fuel to my frustration. It was starting to get dark out and I had used up every option I could think of on hand. Since I was running out of light I decided to call it quits and try again another time. Even though I still enjoyed the fine evening weather and landing pickerel, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, pumpkinseed and bluegills, I still left slightly disappointed.

A couple of days later I decided to head back to the pond and try my luck again. While driving to the pond I felt pretty confident and had a new game plan. Before leaving I had taken my reel and put it on another ultra-light rod I felt had a slight bit more back bone, for a better hook sets, added a fluorocarbon leader and changed the hook to a small circle gamakatsu hook. I also picked up some natural baits, mealworms and earthworms. Sometimes keeping things basic & simple yields better results but that was to be determined. I also brought along an experimental bait (another story within itself).

I had become slightly obsessed with catching this little golden; I find them to be the most attractive of all the hatchery-produced trout. When I pulled in I had hoped the fish was still around and easy to locate. I had gone straight to the same spot and there it was. I immediately casted out an earthworm and the fish rushed over and sucked in and then spit out the bait before I could set the hook. Annoyed but at least I felt more confident with my new fluorocarbon leader and although the golden seemed a little less line shy it was still wary and becoming increasingly more cautious with each cast I took. I then tried a mealworm. I then tried both baits with and without a bobber. The fish kept coming over and investigating but then would repeatedly reject me and turn away.

Off to my left through the corner of my eye I was surprised when I unexpectedly noticed another golden appear out of the weeds, this one appeared to be a few inches larger but was to far of a cast and surrounded by clusters of weed. It appeared a few times and then darted back into the weeds. Not to be seen again after some noisy ducks swam over it. I refocused myself to the other golden within casting distance and the one I’ve been repeatedly trying to hook. I was discouraged and scratching my head trying to figure out my next move. I kept casting until I could think of another plan, hoping the golden would change its mind. But my spirits were lifted when I landed an unexpected surprise, a handsome brightly colored tiger trout that ambushed my bait right before I could lift it out of the water for another cast. Prior to the tiger trout hook up I landed a handful of rainbow trout and I was reminded on how much more of a fighter the tiger trout is. It took out more line and darted in more weeds and had a stronger will to live than the others (not that the rainbows did not fight well). At one point I was afraid that my light 4 lb test line would break while I tried guiding the tiger out of the weeds. I was relieved once I got him onto the bank. A male that sported a small kype and a array of red, yellow, brown, orange and charcoal colors and with endless vermiculation markings all over it’s sides. A beautiful specimen. The first one I know of ever caught in this pond. Though tiger trout are stocked by the state in small numbers and select waters and not as rare as a palomino they are still hard to come by and I’m always happy to catch one. Even in this case when their not the target fish. As far as I was concerned the tiger would have made my trip but it was back to trying to catch the actual target fish.

It seemed pretty hopeless at this point, what else was I supposed to do? Then I decided to see if it would feed at all. I sacrificed a mealworm and just threw it toward the fish (no line or hook) and the palomino gobbled it up immediately as it drifted down a bit. Observing this I figured the fish was extremely line shy or was keying into the speed and action of the baits natural sink rate toward bottom. I then took another mealworm put it on my hook and made a soft cast but the fish refused to take it. I noticed the way the bait drifted down looked different then when it drifted unattached to my line. I started going through my baits looking for items that I could throw out that might resemble a similar sinking motion, while still attached to my 4 lb test line. I experimented casting some baits out in another section of the pond and paying attention on how they drifted down to the bottom. I found something I thought looked very similar to the natural drift (which ended up being my experimental bait I had brought) and went back to the spot where the fish was hanging out and casted to it.

At this time the sunrays were strong and the bottom of the pond lit up a bit more and I could see both the palomino and a regular rainbow trout heading toward the bait. The palomino noticed the rainbow darting for my bait and lunged itself more quickly at the bait, sucking it in and allowing me to finally get a good hook set on it.

I like to think my drift experiment was a success and would have also worked even if the other trout was not there to invoke the golden into biting. But unfortunately at the same time I had to acknowledge that the golden could have just made a mistake with it’s instinctive and competitive greedy nature, in having to beat the rainbow to the food. This could have been the real key factor or maybe a combination of the two but with what unfolded I would never really know for sure. 

However it didn’t matter anymore as I admired the coloration of the trout. It looked like a shimmering bar of gold with a florescent pink stripe running through the middle, mixed with some darker gold leopard like spots on top and a white belly. It wasn’t a large fish but it’s good looks and rarity more than made up for its size. I also felt good that I completed my little goal and it took just two short sessions, each one about 2 hours and not 3 weeks this time. This particular fish however had both eyes in tact, which perhaps helped speed up the process. I never really expected to catch another palomino and was grateful for it. I didn’t fish much longer after catching the palomino but managed another handful of rainbow trout, while keeping an eye out for any other golden sightings (which didn’t happen). Probably could have caught some more but I was more than satisfied already and needed to head home, wash up and get ready for some dinner plans. All fish were released except 1 that was bleeding but and not looking like it would survive but it would not go to waste. 

Judging from past seasons I was amazed at the amount of trout still left in the pond. The fishing pressure of the spring must have lightened up this past season. At quitting time the grand total was 3 bluegills, 10 rainbows, 1 tiger trout and 1 golden palomino trout (the target fish). Driving home I thought that was that and maybe I’ll visit the pond again next year but then again the thought of one more palomino trout in the pond I haven’t caught yet had me wondering if I’d perhaps be drawn back to the pond much sooner than I originally anticipate (who knows). Tight lines, George!

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A RARE PIC OF TWO RARE TROUT (LEFT: TIGER TROUT, RIGHT: PALOMINO TROUT)

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EVEN THE LEOPARD LIKE SPOTS ARE GOLD

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AMAZING COLORS

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June 04, 2006

One night I got a call from a fishing buddy of mine telling me that one of the ponds we fish had been stocked and he also mentioned that he saw a few gold trout swimming around. I believed him about the pond being stocked but took his report of golden trout swimming around lightly. He was fairly new to fishing. He was a hunting buddy of mine who wanted to learn how to fish. He was new to the sport and I had taken him under my wing and was fishing with him often. At that time he could not tell one species of trout from another. Mass wildlife also does not stock gold trout, so I dismissed his claims and assumed he had seen some brown trout. I decided the next day to hit that pond with my friend. I pulled up to the bank of the pond and in no time my buddy had pointed out the fish in which I had no problem spotting. They were indeed a couple of gold palomino trout swimming around and they stuck out like a sore thumb.

I immediately thought to myself how did those get in here. I had never caught one and realized this was a rare opportunity to do so. I had made it my mission to cross this trout of my list and completely ignored fishing for the regular rainbow trout that the pond had been heavily stocked with. Just two problems, one my buddy and half the anglers at the pond were also gunning for the same fish and two, these golden trout would not hit anything. I tried all the usual hardware and natural baits. I threw everything at these fish (kitchen sink and all). I left the pond in disgust. Never had I been worked up over such a small fish before. Between lines getting tangled over this one fish and the fish being extremely spooky. I assumed they were not going to hit, I decided to come back the next day with some live bait and increase my odds. I'll hook it when it isn't so spooky and a bit hungrier. I'll catch one for sure tomorrow.

Yeah right, so I thought. Day in and day out this fish would not hit anything. On one of those days I noticed one of the Golden's had disappeared, either caught or hung low in cover not to be seen or perhaps a bird of prey made a meal out of it. Regardless my odds just dropped. The remaining single fish would come to my bait look at it and sniff it and still turn it's nose away.

It got personal now and I had developed a vendetta out for this small irritating fish. About 3-4 times each week I would pop by the pond for a bit and attempt yet again to catch this thing. Finally one day, my wife decided to join me. While we would fish I was not expecting her to also ignore the other fish and compete for the same palomino (real sweet of her after I told her how I needed to catch this damn fish). She was completely in the way but eventually gave up and moved on toward casting for some regular rainbows. I continued to cast my little ultra light rod with a fresh garden worm I dug by the pond and a mealworm. Here came the golden to investigate, I thought for sure as usual she would look at the bait and turn away but this time she inhaled it and I set the hook on her, after playing her out and some head shakes I felt relieved as I plucked her out of the water. I felt like a big rock had been lifted from my shoulders. It took me three weeks to catch her.

I also realized after examining her that she had a bad eye and was probably blind on one side. Which would also help partly to explain why she was so difficult to catch. The pictures don't do it justice but I thought it was the coolest looking trout ever. I wish Mass would stock these fish. Anyway it turned out after talking to some of the other fishermen at the pond. There was a derby and a separate and private hatchery had stocked a few gold trout as well as a handful of some larger 2-3 pound rainbows as the prize fish for the derby. In which case I ended up catching one of those 3 pound bows while going for the gold. I'll probably never catch another golden again unless I head to PA (who stocks them) or join a rod and gun club that stocks them. (If anyone knows of a club that stocks some big golden's or knows where to target large ones shoot me an email).

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THE GOLDEN TROUT IS EXTREMELY RARE AND ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO CATCH IN MA.
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THIS FISH WAS STOCKED BY A PRIVATE HATCHERY AS A PRIZE FISH.
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GOLDEN'S ARE NOT STOCKED BY MA BUT I WISH THEY WERE.
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This little guy believe it or not, was one of the most difficult fish I ever targeted.

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The golden rainbow trout originated from a single rainbow trout that was spawned in the fall of 1954 in West Virginia. This trout's body color was a chimera of golden and normally pigmented tissue. When this fish was crossed with a normally pigmented rainbow trout, the offspring (what we have come to refer to as palomino rainbow trout).

Below two new members to the golden trout club.
Both fish were caught on April 19th, 2008, at the Jaycees fishing derby.

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ROY WITH HIS FIRST MA GOLD TROUT

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TODD ALSO WITH HIS FIRST MA GOLD

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A CLOSE UP

Below a new member of the golden trout club. T.L.H.U. reader Ray caught this palomino on June 7th, 2008 at his secret spot. Congrats!

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RAY WITH A RARE MA GOLDEN

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Here is a Monster PA Golden from AKA Troutdogg

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STEPHEN STRIKES GOLD IN GEOGIA

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LARRY WITH HIS OWN VIRGINIAN GOLDEN

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STAN WITH HIS GOLDEN PALOMINO TROUT, WELCOME TO THE CLUB

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ADAM WITH A GOLDEN TROUT HE CAUGHT IN MARYLAND

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BRAD IS OUR NEWEST MEMBER OF THE GOLDEN TROUT CLUB WITH A PALOMINO HE CAUGHT IN OKLAHOMA