Tanner Hrycyk is new to fishing Lake Superior, so when the 19-year-old reeled up a blue trout recently, he figured there was nothing special about the catch.
“At first I thought it was just a normal rainbow trout from Lake Superior,” Hrycyk told For The Win Outdoors. “But then we did some research and found out it wasn’t your average rainbow.”
The 27-inch fish turned out to be a hatchery-raised rainbow trout with a genetic mutation, giving it a sleek, bluish appearance.
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Eisch told For The Win Outdoors that the agency used to rear Arlee and Shasta strains of rainbow trout and “a noticeable number of fish had a bluish tinge to their skin color.”
The biologist added: “There are all sorts of genetic variations, including skin color, that occur in both wild and hatchery reared fish. In some instances, such mutations allow for better survival in localized populations if conditions favor the mutation. That mechanism allows for local adaptations to occur to increase survival.
“Most often, though, genetic mutations that occur in the wild make fish less fit to survive beyond the very early life stages. Hatchery fish are not subject to the same pressures of natural selection as wild fish are, so fish with mutations may survive longer than they would in the wild.”
Hrycyk, who lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, was fishing with a friend on Black Bay when the blue trout struck his Tail Dancer lure.
He kept the trout but said that in hindsight, after realizing that it was a special catch, he wishes that he would have returned the fish to the lake.
–Images are courtesy of Tanner Hrycyk