In BC, we are so lucky to have such an incredible stocking program that allows us to be able to not only catch massive rainbows but a few different strains of them. There are plenty more than the top 3 stocked strains (Fraser Valley, Pennask & Blackwater) but we will focus on those for now and the differences between them. Most of the fish we have stocked in our trophy lakes are referred to as “triploids”, meaning a fish that is treated from the egg stage in a heating process that renders them sterile. Having sterile fish planted into our lakes means that they can live their whole lives without spawning and have only 2 things to worry about, eating and getting big.
Pennask – Pennasks are a gorgeous strain of rainbow trout, not to mention they are usually a couple feet in the air by the time you realize they’ve eaten your bug. They jump more than any other strain and take blistering runs. Pennasks are fairly easily identified by their streamlined, torpedo shape with very few spots & a very pronounced lateral line. Their backs will usually be a medium olive-brown colour, but in very clear lakes with marl bottom they can be almost translucent with teal or light blue backs. Pennasks like to school up, some of the most furious action you’ll experience is when a good sized pod of actively feeding pennasks roll in. They usually grab your fly with reckless abandon and head straight for the surface, making them one of the top stocking strains in BC.
Fraser Valley – Fraser Valley triploids are the pigs of the underwater world. Sometimes eating themselves into nothing short of a barrel shape, they also fight way differently than a Pennask or Blackwater. Some anglers look down upon Fraser Valleys, but anything that puts a bend in a fly rod is fine by me. Fraser Valleys are easily identified by their thick build, large bellies and a healthy amount of spots both above and below their lateral lines. When they are hooked, usually they will stay down close to the bottom and play a game of tug-a-war against you until making their way to the surface. “Tubby tuggers” is what we always referred to them as, not known for taking long deep runs like a Pennask or Blackwater.
Blackwater – These are my favourite, hands down. Blackwaters are beautifully marked with large spots and often a prominent red or pink hue along their sides. Rarely do they have many spots below their lateral line. Blackwaters (originated from the Blackwater river) are also a predatory fish. They will be implemented in lakes that have a high population of shiners or coarse fish as it will quicly become part of their diet. Blackwaters jump occasionally, but are best known for their lightning speed runs often taken a foot under the surface of the water. Nothing is more exciting than watching a ten pound Blackwater create a V shaped wake as it makes a football field run just under the water surface.
To see exactly how many fish and what strain is going into your favourite lakes, click here. Though they aren’t all created equally, they are all fun in my books. If you’ve got any questions or comments, leave one below or send me an email and I’ll be more than happy to answer. Until next time happy fishing!