Rainbow trout pushing way into P.E.I. streams

Nigel Armstrong
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Island stream

Rainbow trout are not from here, but they sure like it on P.E.I. which might be a problem for Island fish, says a student looking for answers.

Scott Roloson is a masters candidate at the University of Prince Edward Island. His study into rainbow trout is co-funded by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

“Prince Edward Island in recent decades has had rainbow trout, which is non-native to P.E.I., establish in over 20 rivers,” said Roloson. 

“My study is an investigation into why the rainbow trout has succeeded on Prince Edward Island and not done so anywhere else in the Atlantic provinces.”

Rainbow trout, native to the West Coast, grow much bigger than brook trout and most of them live a dual lifestyle. For part of their life they may take to the ocean during which time they are known as steelhead salmon. When they live in fresh water, they take on the name of rainbow trout.

“It is believed that Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout compete for habitat, (so) there is great concern that rainbow trout will negatively influence Atlantic salmon that are greatly reduced on P.E.I.” said Roloson.

Now there is concern that rainbow trout, having adapted to life on P.E.I., may now migrate and invade other Maritime rivers.

“To look into that aspect we will be tagging and tracking rainbow trout with sonic telemetry equipment and assessing their movements . . . in cooperation with the Ocean Tracking Network at Dalhousie (university),” said Roloson.

Rainbow trout was stocked on P.E.I. as a benefit to the recreational fishery and they are currently farmed in aquaculture operations here.

“Maybe our practices of stocking in the past weren’t the best idea for management of our native salmon and trout so we are looking to shed some light on the potential influences the rainbow trout are having on the native salmon and trout,” said Roloson.

“For some reason rainbow trout have established in south-draining rivers so . . . maybe the warmer waters are allowing the competitive advantage to them,” he said.

Roloson hopes to have data on migratory patterns at the end of this summer. That will guide his study for next summer.

Organizations: University of Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Ocean Tracking Network

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Maritime

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Recent comments

  • Neil Mader
    April 18, 2011 - 07:50

    I'd like to do what I can to prevent this introduced invasive species. What rivers are the Rainbows in, and what's their perferred bait/lures/flies?

    • riverrat
      April 20, 2011 - 14:54

      Look at your invertibrate populations and then look at some U.S. areas with similar invertibrates. Stoneflies, caddis, etc. in freestone rivers look at flies fish on some of the great salmonfly rivers - Deschutes, Yellowstone, Clark Fork. Heavier to mayflies, maybe look at some of the east coast streams like the Battenkill, etc. Rainbows are plenty easy to catch. Sorry you have them THERE!

  • Paul
    April 18, 2011 - 06:13

    In the mid 1950s we used to get rainbows on the Dunk - That is sure more than 20 years ago. At that time I fished a lot and never saw a salmon. They must have been introduced also.

  • john
    April 17, 2011 - 20:48

    i got a 3 pound rainbow in millvail on the first day, not to many times you see rainbow on the north side.

  • Doug
    April 17, 2011 - 14:54

    At least there are fish in the rivers. Whatever became of the concerns over the rivers becoming poisoned by fertilizer runoff?

  • flaflafooeyisbababooey
    April 17, 2011 - 14:20

    Looks like downstream at Campbell's Pond in New Glasgow.

  • my two cents worth
    April 17, 2011 - 13:41

    goverments were warned of this 25 years ago when they were passing out money to raise them fish were lost out of cages and now are taking over so now this guy gets paid to find out where the fish came from twenty years from now they will be doing another study on another breed that was raised in a cage that are destroying rainbow trout

  • yup
    April 17, 2011 - 13:06

    It's probably a picture from last year... hence the leaves on the trees and the green grass :)

  • Matt
    April 17, 2011 - 11:55

    Maybe they should organize a culling? Teach all fishers what the rainbow trout look like and tell them to catch as many as possible?

  • Upwester
    April 17, 2011 - 10:40

    That certainly doesn't look like an Island stream in that picture. This time of the year most Island streams are usually running "red" with silt run off from ditches and farmers fields.

  • John Pickard
    April 17, 2011 - 10:31

    I have been flying fishing for the past 20 years and i have noticed a great increase in Rainbow Trout in our island waterways... I see less of the native speckled brook trout and more of the invasive speices. The salmon fishery is near the point of non exsistence. I contribute this to the heavy rains, soil run off , and buffer limits not adaqute ... We need more water shed programs along with stream and water way studies regarding just not fish invasive speices but invasive plants that are invading our waterways as well...