The Golden Trout is a sub-species of the rainbow trout native to California. The golden trout is commonly found at elevations from 6,890 feet (2,100 m) to 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level, and is native only to California's southern Sierra Nevada mountains. Preferred water temperature is 58–62 °F (14–17 °C) but they can tolerate temperatures in degraded streams on the Kern Plateau as high as 70 °F (21 °C) so long as those waters cool during the night. The only other species of fish indigenous to the native range of California golden trout is the Sacramento sucker.
The Golden Trout has golden flanks with red, horizontal bands along the lateral lines on each side and about 10 dark, vertical, oval marks (called "parr marks") on each side. Dorsal, lateral and anal fins have white leading edges. In their native habitat, adults range from 6–12 in (15–30 cm) long. Fish over 10 in (25 cm) are considered large. Golden Trout that have been transplanted to lakes have been recorded up to 11 lb (5 kg) in weight.
Dawn and dusk are prime time to catch Golden Trout. Under subdued light the fish will expose themselves and feed freely on the surface.As trout leave the lakes to spawn in tributary streams they cannot resist roe flies. Orange 3mm pom-poms placed on a #14 hook and held in place with a few turns of thread are irresistible to the Golden Trout. Trout eggs are virtually weightless and it is best to use a piece of split shot a short distance up the leader rather than weighting the fly itself.
Creek Golden Trout will of course eat nymph patterns but they are so susceptible to a dries.You should use a six foot 5x or 6x tippet on a 10 or 12 foot leader. Short striking fish are often a sign of subtle drag and when this happens you should lengthen the tippet and make sure the fly is attached with a loop knot to reduce the potential for drag.
The Golden Trout is native to the southern Sierra Nevada, including the upper reach and tributaries of the South Fork of the Kern River, and Golden Trout Creek and its tributaries. It has been introduced in hundreds of lakes and streams outside the native range, though most of these populations did not last or hybridized with cutthroat trout and other subspecies of rainbow trout. Distribution data that may be incomplete or inaccurate includes the Canadian province of Alberta, and the US states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.