How to Tell If It's a Male or a Female Trout

by Gerard S. Walen
Trout spawn at different times of the year, according to habitat and species.

Trout spawn at different times of the year, according to habitat and species.

The fisherman with an untrained eye might have trouble distinguishing whether a mature trout is female or male, but each has a few identifying characteristics. Those features, though, don't show up until sexual maturity. The sex of a juvenile trout is nearly impossible to determine just by looking.

1. Check the calendar. If it is spawning season for trout in your region, you will have more luck determining the gender of the trout. Different species of trout spawn at different times of the year, usually in the fall. Check with your local fishery management agency to find out when the spawning season is for local trout species.

2. Examine the trout's head. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, a male trout will usually develop a hooked snout, or "kype," on its lower jaw. Male trout are usually more elongated, too. The female trout's mouth is more rounded and is smaller than the male's. Her body also tends to be more rounded.

3. Look at the color of the trout during spawning season. The male will have brighter colors than the female.

4. Check the abdomen of the fish and determine if it's distended. If so, it more likely will be a female carrying eggs. Note that a trout that just ate could show a similar trait.

Tip

  • Even with a trained eye, identifying the gender of a trout is an inexact science, especially if it is not spawning season. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the only positive way to do it is to dissect the fish and look for an egg sac.

About the Author

Gerard Walen started writing professionally more than 16 years ago. He's been published in "The Tampa Tribune," Sunbelt newspapers, the "Sarasota Herald-Tribune" and college publications. He wrote a story for the Hillsborough Community College "Triad" magazine that was named the 1997 ACP/LA Times Story of the Year. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from the University of South Florida.

Photo Credits

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