When Do Trout Spawn In America?

Did you know that trout build a nest to spawn? It is known as a Redd. When trout become adults, they spawn seasonally. Spawning is essential for sustaining the ecosystem. Female trout will spawn between 200 and 8000 eggs, depending on their size.

Anglers must be cautious not to step on and ruin the trout’s eggs in the redd. Many anglers love to fish during the spawning season because it is easier to catch trout. You need to know the exact season when the trout spawn before you plan your expedition.

So, when do trout in America spawn? How do they spawn? How should you fish to avoid stepping on the redds? Let’s answer these questions in the guide below.

When Do Trout in America Spawn?

The exact trout spawning season varies with the trout species. Different trout species spawn at different times. Brook, Lake, and brown trout spawn in autumn (between September and December).

Trout prefer cooler temperatures than cutthroat and rainbow trout, which spawn in the spring (between February and May). The temperatures in spring range between 42 °F to 44F° (6 °C to 7 °C). Species like Mountain whitefish spawn between October and December, which is late fall through early winter.

How Does a Trout Spawn?

A trout is ready to spawn when it becomes an adult. Some species migrate to large water bodies for spawning and those that swim upstream. Trout in large water bodies such as lakes have access to more food which facilitates more growth.

As they get close to spawning, both the male and female adult trout change behavior, anatomy, and color.

1. Color Changes

Trout can change the color of their exterior changes to bright pink, red, or green. Male trout usually light up in this color to attract the female trout. Color changes are a common trait among brown trout.

2. Anatomy Changes

The anatomy changes make it possible to distinguish a male trout from a female trout. A female trout will become more stout and rounded because of the eggs developing in the abdomen. On the other hand, the male trout’s jaw elongates in size. It becomes a hooked jaw, also known as a kype.

3. Behavioral Changes

Both the male trout will become aggressive in the spawning season. Male trout are aggressive towards other males as they challenge each other to find a female. They get even more aggressive when defending a redd of its female partner. The male trout use their hooked jaws and teeth to fight other males and fend off intruders. Female trout will become less aggressive as they cover their eggs.

The Spawning Process

  1. After the male and female undergo the appropriate changes, they get ready to spawn. The male looks for a female to pair with and fertilize her eggs. On the other hand, female trout will build a nest as the eggs develop in her stomach.
  2. Female trout sculpt their nest by removing sediment, silt, and other material from the nest area. Their goal is to ensure the eggs will be safe and well oxygenated. They usually build their redds in shallow river bottoms with gravel. The female trout can also make a redd in tributaries or below them.
  3. Once the male and female pair up, the female trout will deposit her eggs in the redd. The male trout will then fertilize the eggs and proceed to guard the redd. Female trout cover the eggs with loose sand and gravel after fertilization to let them mature. The eggs could take a few months to mature.
  4. Remember, a female trout could spawn between 200 and 8,00 eggs. However, very few of these eggs mature into adults. Various predators prey on them. They include hungry fish, amphibians, large insects, mature trout, and water pollution (deprives the egg of oxygen).

North American Spawning Seasons

The following is a table of the four major trout species and some more common trout species found in America, their spawning seasons, and where they commonly reside.

Common NameScientific Name Spawning SeasonHabitat
Brook TroutSalvelinus fontinalisFallLake, River
Rainbow TroutOncorhynchus mykissSpringRiver, Lake
Cutthroat TroutOncorhynchus clarkiiSpringRiver, Shallows, Mountain Stream
Brown TroutSalmo truttaFallLake, River
Lake TroutSalvelinus namaycushFallLake
Bull TroutSalvelinus confluentusFallCold Water River, Stream, Pool

Watch Out for the Redds While Fishing

You should be careful not to step on the redds while fishing during the spawning season. It will help preserve the ecosystem and allow more trout to grow and for more fun fishing expeditions.

Furthermore, it would be best to check the rules and regulations of the fishing location. Some fishing locations close off certain areas to help keep the spawning process away from human interruptions. Therefore, you risk getting fined if you fish or go to these areas.

How Should You Fish for Trout During the Spawning Season?

It would be best to avoid fishing for a spawning trout. Anglers usually fish for saltwater, bass, and other species during the spawning season, but they tend to leave trout alone. Trout are usually very vulnerable during the spawning season. They will attack anything that moves around the reed.

However, some locations allow for trout fishing even in their spawning season. It would help to try fly fishing for trout during the spawning season. You should consider fishing along the banks of rivers and lakes rather than using a large boat. The motor of a large boat will scare away the trout.

You can also look out for some of the other trout predators to identify an area with trout. Some of these predators include otters, other large fish, or even low flying birds.


The spawning process maintains the circle of growth of the trout species. A trout develops from the egg into a fry. The fry must find its food and shelter. It is prone to various predators, which is why many never mature into adult trout.

The trout will be a fry for about a year before it develops into a parr. Parrs tend to stay in freshwater until their vertical growth marks or parr lines fully develop. After that, they develop into a smolt or a young adult and prepare to spawn. They will begin spawning soon after once they become full adults.

Trout species in America have different spawning seasons. Brook, Lake, and brown trout spawn in autumn (between September and December). They prefer cooler temperatures. Lake trout even spawn at night. Cutthroat and rainbow trout, which spawn in the spring (between February and May). Mountain whitefish spawn between October and December, which is late fall through early winter.

Remember to be careful not to damage the trout redds because they contain their eggs, and future trout you could fish later.

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