Palomino Trout – Everything You Need to Know

Palomino trout A.K.A Golden Rainbow trout A.K.A Banana trout A.K.A Palomino Rainbow trout…okay, you get the point that it’s known by a couple of different names. Regardless of which one you prefer, there’s no denying that the beauty of the fish is absolutely mesmerizing.

While you may have seen plenty of them on your Instagram feed, it’s still a pretty rare one. That’s why many anglers consider Palomino, which is also known as Lightning trout, as a striking catch if not a novelty. And that’s for a reason though – as you’ll be learning in the article, Palomino trout are considered to be the most extraordinary and multifaceted one in the Rainbow trout family!

In this article, I’ll be covering the nitty-gritty details of Palomino fish that consist of but are not only limited to their history, average size, and habitat. In addition to those, you’ll also find the supreme angler’s guide to catching Palomino trout which will make your journey a lot easier.

And last but not the least, I’ll be answering some commonly asked questions in the FAQ section.

Without any more delay, let’s get started!

What is a Palomino Fish?

First off, it’s a hybrid fish. The scientific name of Palomino fish is Oncorhynchus mykiss. It’s produced from a cross-breed between a West Virginia Golden trout and a Rainbow trout. Palomino trout is mainly known for its unique coloring, which is this deep yellow-gold shade that looks absolutely stunning on them. Some might even say it’s an albino rainbow trout!

But there’s more to it than merely a colorful body. Superficial beauty may please you after you’ve caught it, but what anglers really want – the fish putting up a good fight at the end of their fly rod – is something Palomino excels at as well. The highly elusive nature proves the point fairly well that this isn’t your typical rainbow trout.

As if that weren’t enough, Palomino fish is also sought after for its rarity. A fish that looks great, is fun to catch, and scarce – when I say Palomino is a trophy fish in a league of its own, you know I mean it.

Now that the brief description is done, let’s move on to the technical details of Palomino.

Everything You Need to Know About Palomino Trout



Palomino trout generally have the size of the normal Rainbow trout but they often grow larger too. Commonly, they have a size of 12-30 inches and can weigh 2-10 pounds. However, large ones tend to be pretty rare so it’s safe to say an average Palomino may weigh about 2-4 pounds.

What does PALOMINO TROUT eat?

Other freshwater rainbow trout are usually fond of minnows and aquatic insects. Palomino is no different either. In addition to those, they also prefer crayfish, crustaceans, small fish, mealy worms, crickets, and salmon eggs.

Where to catch Palomino trout?

Palomino trout prefer fast-flowing water like swift streams, creeks, and rivers. Areas with more shade tend to have more Palomino trout, which is probably because the lack of light makes the bright-colored fish harder to catch for predators.

If you want to catch them, your best bet would be to find a stocked lake or pond.

Golden Rainbow Trout originated in Pennsylvania, making it undoubtedly the mecca for catching them. That being said, it’s also currently a part of many stocking programmes thanks to its popularity. So if it’s not possible for you to visit Pennsylvania, check with your local fish and game agency to see if there’s any Palomino stocking programme nearby. Normally they’re stocked with brook trout or rainbow trout.

Are Golden Trout, Rainbow Trout, and Palomino Trout the same?

There has definitely been a lot of debate on this topic and a simple Google search would not get you reliable answers. What’s worse, it’s more likely to confuse you even more. Because of that, I took my time to look thoroughly into it and only accepted data from credible sources.

According to David Thorne, a West Virginia State Trout and Stream Habitat Biologist, Palomino trout and Golden Rainbow trout are the same fish. To be more specific, they’re both mutated Oncorhynchus mykiss which is also popularly known as Rainbow trout.

There are virtually no differences between Palomino trout and West Virginia golden rainbow either.

That answers part of the question – Palomino trout and Rainbow trout are the same indeed. Having said that, the Golden trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is a totally separate subspecies that shouldn’t be confused with either of them.

That gets us to the conclusion that Rainbow trout and Palomino trout are the same, but Golden trout is a different subspecies. Be noted that normally pigmented Rainbow trout are not the same as Palomino trout.

The Supreme Angler’s Guide to Catching Palomino Trout


Finding a Palomino and actually catching it are two entirely different things. The bright yellow color of this popular trophy fish may make them highly visible and hence easy to find in the water, but that is precisely the reason why they’ve had to step their game up. Meaning, they’re one of the wariest and smart trout species.

Don’t worry, that certainly doesn’t make it Mission Impossible: Palomino Protocol. All you have to do is follow my tips and you’ll be fine!

Which bait would be perfect for Palomino trout?

When it comes to bait, Palomino trout tend to have a very unpredictable nature. To be on the safe side, you can go for freshly caught worms or insects – or even lures you’d use for regular Rainbow trout. But be sure to reel it in as quickly as you can because it may spit out the bait immediately.

As I said, it’s almost like they have a sixth sense that tells them when they’re being hunted.

Anyway, heavier lures or baits usually catch the attention of Palomino trout better. You might want to keep that in mind as well.

How to not spook Palomino trout?

Palomino tends to get spooked very easily, so you’ll need to be very stealthy around them. If possible, stay at least a few feet away from them as even your shadow can alert Palomino.

According to experienced anglers, the ripples in the water a fishing line produces after hitting the surface also drive Palomino away. While there isn’t any way to avoid that entirely, just cast as sneakily as you can and then wait a few minutes for the Palomino to swim back.

If they don’t return, don’t hesitate to repeat the process and cast again. Patience is the key to catching Palomino trout.

When is the best time to catch Palomino fish?

Most trout are extremely wary of motions and things aren’t any better with Palomino either. As I’ve said already, your shadow is something that’d work to your disadvantage.

So, the evening would be the best time to catch Palomino. The lack of light would both get rid of the shadow problem and make it hard for Palomino trout to notice you from under the water.

What fishing gear must you carry for catching Palomino?

You. Must. Carry. A. Fishing. Net.

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Palomino trout are very energetic and when they realize they’re hooked, they move violently trying to unhook themselves. That doesn’t only hurt them, but also damages the body, decreasing its value.

So, you just don’t pull the Palomino strongly towards yourself. What you rather do is, reel it slowly and make sure you’re not forcing it to swim in your direction. When it’s in reachable distance, take the fishing net, submerge that in water and let the fish swim right into it. After that, retrieve the net along with the fish.

That way, you can catch a perfectly undamaged Palomino with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Palomino trout is certainly not as rare as Tiger trout, but it’s very hard to come across even one in the wild.

Because they’re not only highly visible to human anglers in streams, but to natural predators like blue heron and osprey as well. This is why very few Palomino trout can be found at such places – most of them have already been caught.

They’re mainly stocked by various fish hatcheries, so getting in touch with them would be a good idea. If you reside in the United States, there are some locations where Palomino trout can be found.

Well, the taste is subjective. But to give you an idea anyway, they taste like Rainbow trout and the meat texture is similar as well. It’s a tad bit pinker or more orange in color compared to Rainbow trout, but the flavor is pretty much the same.

As for health benefits, freshly-caught Palomino offers optimum amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids too. Not to mention, they also contain Vitamin D and riboflavin like other fish. Some anglers do get hesitant about eating them due to the color, but Palomino trout is absolutely safe to consume.

If you’ve ever cooked Golden trout or Rainbow trout, the same preparation methods and recipes can be followed for Palomino trout.

No, Palomino trout are not sterile.

Unlike most of the other hybrids, Palomino trout can actually reproduce. They’ve been developed carefully in a way that they breed true to color.

No, Palomino trout are not natural either.

In 1967, Palomino was stocked for the first time, in Pennsylvania. It was done by hybridizing the pure strain of West Virginia Golden Trout with normal Rainbow trout, producing Palomino.

Point to be noted, Palomino trout isn’t the same subspecies as O. m. aguabonita, the Kern River golden trout of California which occurs naturally.

Final Words

To wrap things up, we’ve learned about the technical and scientific details of Palomino trout in this article along with their history. The fishing guide and FAQ section should clear up any confusion you may have had and answer all of your questions, too.

Palomino trout is best for those who are looking for a rare and striking catch and not afraid of having their patience and determination stretched to new extremes. Along with that, you’ll also have to spend quite a time on the trial and error method as each Palomino trout reacts differently and hence requires unique approaches.

But don’t let that discourage you, this trophy fish is very much worth the effort. And even if you can’t catch it at the first few attempts, your fishing skills will be greatly improved, making it a win-win for everyone.

Happy Fishing!

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