Sunday, February 7, 2010

Choosing Freshwater Trout and Char for the Table

Seafood lovers and chefs around the world often choose trout and char as a main course. This special family of fish are found worldwide in freshwater and saltwater environments. Some trout and char are anadromous; they are spawned in rivers and streams, then migrate to the ocean, returning to freshwater only to spawn.

Arctic char are beautiful fish are found in both freshwater and saltwater in Arctic, sub-Arctic and alpine lakes and coastal waters. Char are found in the Canadian Arctic, the United Kingdom, Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia. Other names for this fish include, charr, goletst,  iqaluk or tariungmiutaq.

Brook trout are gray, with patterns of red, yellow and orange, topped off with cream spots and white tipped fins. They are typically smaller than other trout. Brook trout are typically 7-12 inches in length, but sometimes reach sizes of 18 inches or more.

Brown trout vary color from silvery with few spots and a white belly, to the typical brown fading to creamy white on the fish's belly, with medium-sized spots surrounded by lighter coloration. The silver forms of brown trout are sometimes mistaken for rainbow trout. Brown trout are native to Europe and Asia but has been stocked successfully in the North America and other regions. Sea trout (S. trutta morpha trutta) are fish of the same species that adopt an anadromous lifestyle. Brown trout art is very popular, both in its native countries as well as in North American culture.

Lake trout are another freshwater trout, belonging to the salmonine genus; distinct from the "true" trout and salmon. Lake trout have small, light, irregular shaped spots on a silvery-to-dark background although color can vary considerably depending on seasons and local conditions. Male and female lake trout are similar, with males having a slightly longer and more pointed snout. Lake trout can be distinguished from other char species by the absence of pink spots and their deeply forked tail. They average one to three pounds, but  occasionally exceed 25 pounds.

Rainbow trout are one of the most respected and sought after game fish of North America. These colorful trout are native to western North America from the Aleutian Islands to northern Mexico, but have been widely introduced to waters throughout North America and the rest of the world. A typical life cycle of this species begins with a stream for spawning followed by a larger body of water for maturation. The flesh of rainbow trout which has a distinctive flavor is often cooked with head and fins intact, which makes for an appealing presentation.

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